Review: Radical Rabbit Stew

28 Jul 2020

The Switch has become a haven lately for quirky indy titles, and it’s easy to see why. It’s perfect for games that are easy to pick up and put down, don’t require a lot of power, and are just the sort of thing you’d want to play for a few minutes while out and about.

Our latest title, Radical Rabbit Stew, is no different. Developed by Pugstorm and out now for Switch, PC, PS4, and Xbox One, Radical Rabbit Stew is a delightful puzzle-action game all about punting rabbits into soup pots. That fly into space. I did say it’d be quirky.

To Stew and Beyond

The plot is… fairly non-existent. You’re the cleaning boy for a group of chefs at a space diner that make the best soup ever. The queen of the space rabbits, tired of her vegetable diet, has her minions kidnap the chefs, leaving only you and a spoon to save the day. The plot is told through beautiful slideshows between the game’s three chapters.

Said rescue involves hopping from level to level and using your utensils to knock the rabbits into soup pots, where they rocket to God knows where. Things start off fairly basic, with just a spoon to knock rabbits in a cardinal direction until they hit an obstacle, and springs that can redirect a flying rabbit’s direction, but as you get more tools and more environmental features are added, it rapidly becomes more complex… and seems to undergo a bit of a genre shift.

The early levels are very much a puzzle game. Each rabbit has a pot, a single way to get them there, and avoiding getting eaten is a vital part. Later you have more health, more tools, and (most notably) spawners appear to replace any rabbits you accidentally yeet off the map. Things shift more towards an action game; planning is less of a concern since making a wrong move is hardly penalized, and the difficulty now comes from dodging raining bombs and swooping bunniculas.

The end result isn’t bad exactly, but I can’t help but wish the developers had stuck to a more puzzle-like system, at least for a while longer. Failing a level because I didn’t notice a bumper went solely to the great beyond wasn’t great, but it did make finishing the levels all the more satisfying.

More time spent with puzzle elements would have been appreciated for another reason as well. I often found myself completely forgetting about tools in my arsenal, especially later ones, as I didn’t have enough time playing with them first.

For example, about halfway through you get a hand-on-a-chain that can essentially act as an opposite to your spoon: If there’s a rabbit to my right, I could make it go past me to the left instead of hurtling to the right. There were several levels where, in hindsight, that would have been handy, but I’d gotten so used to using my spoon only since the last time the hand was useful that it just didn’t register. A little more time being encouraged to see opportunities to use new tools before throwing me back at situations that only require the spoon would have been appreciated.

Classic Rabbits

Cute. Bunny. Sprites. What more needs to be said? Long version, the sprite work is expressive and charming, and the cutscenes between chapters have a nostalgic resemblance to the slideshow cutscenes of the 16-bit era.

There’s just so much charm and humor to the slideshows, and the levels manage to take you to such locales as tropical beaches, frozen wastes, and haunted cemeteries while keeping all the important interactables clear and distinct.

The soundtrack is no slouch either, with a wide selection of rocking chiptune pieces fitting each of the varied worlds. Then there’s the sound design. Thwacking stuff with my spoon just felt fun, and there were many sections design to send rabbits (or yourself) hurtling along curves and loops solely to listen to the hapless blocks along the path crumble. It’s like watching a fireworks show.

A Light Snack

Radical Rabbit Stew isn’t a long game, it isn’t a super complex game, but it IS a fun game, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. The levels are perfect little bite-sized chunks I can pick up whenever, and it hits that mix of challenging enough to be engaging without being frustratingly so.

My only real criticisms can basically be summed up as them not being quite punishing enough. Some real incentive to find the solutions to puzzles would have been appreciated, but I always had my standby of smacking everything with a spoon until everything sorted itself out.

~ Final Score: 7/10 ~

Review copy provided by Pugstorm for Switch. Screenshots taken by reviewer.