Summits, the gathering of nations for intense diplomacy, must be one of the most dynamic, dangerous and nerve-wracking events to manage, and that’s exactly the role you find yourself playing in Wonderland Nights: White Rabbit’s Diary.
Wonderland Nights explores the world as it is left in the wake of Alice’s departure. With Alice gone and the Queen of Hearts replaced with a different noble you’d imagine that the world of Wonderland would have tamed down a little, however, it hasn’t. Displaced nobles, a shift in royalty and other mysterious doings are afoot, and a new summit is about to bring the four suits together to discuss important legal matters.
You take on the role of the White Rabbit and have to organise the entertainment, seating and pairing of the twelve individuals attending the summit. You’ve also, of course, got to do your best to get the voting results that the Queen of Hearts wants, while also uncovering secrets about the various nobles now in your care.
Handily, then, Wonderland Nights is designed to be played multiple times, with the secrets, likes and dislikes of the characters revealed and journaled as your muddle your way through the summit. Each suit has a King and Queen, as well as a Jack — which is an important noble from their kingdom. As it turns out, most of the current Wonderland nobility is in some way related, making the whole summit an entangled mess of interpersonal relationships. Two of the Queens are sisters, and a third Queen, and two of the Kings are also siblings.
Some of the marriages within the displaced nations, as well as some of the displaced nobles, are fresh or strictly political, meaning that there’s a lot of rivalry and history between certain characters. In fact, it’s almost impossible to not uncover a secret within the first summit round, and with one secret a second is sure to follow shortly afterwards.
Gameplay itself is incredibly simple, you simply pair off the twelve attendees into activities, one might hate croquet and so talk about something rather than playing, while others might enjoy the activity and grow more fond of each other. Regardless, each representative has their own want for each of the voting sessions at the summit (Legalising War, Banning Magic, etc) and so the pair will often discuss, argue or even sway one another on the subject.
Sky Bear Games have done an amazing job of using the Alice in Wonderland IP to create a political mystery game, it’s a simple offering that’s made premium due to the 3000+ lines of dialogue, most of which is fully voiced. I was really surprised to see how characters like The Caterpillar and Lewis’ Jabberwock were slipped into the story, and that’s a testament to the great writing behind Wonderland Nights.
There were some issues with the console version, namely that any game that’s reliant on information within menus (like the journal here) or that locks in player decisions and doesn’t let them undo before committing doesn’t feel quite a navigatable or friendly as it does on touchscreen or PC. However, the ‘complex’ menu does away with the second issue, and the game itself never really penalises you for a wrong decision — it simply plays out the conversation and the game continues.
Wonderland Nights: Rabbit’s Diary is available now on PC, and Xbox One Series X|S.