Developers: Daedalic Entertainment
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Edna and Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes Review
Remember how your parents kept telling you that you shouldn’t judge by the appearance? Surely they must have had Edna and Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes in mind! When you see the screenshots for the first time, you may get an impression that it’s some sort of a lowbrow adventure game for children. Nothing can be further from the truth. The sequel to Edna and Harvey: Breakout is a production aimed at the mature audience who enjoy a healthy dosage of black humour, creepiness and more than a bit of crazy. Proceed with the text, provided that you’re not afraid or oversensitive.
Despite the title, the protagonist of the story is neither Edna nor Harvey. In the game we play as a taciturn and seemingly innocent young orphan called Lilli. Why seemingly? The reason is very simple – our heroine may be sweet and well-behaved, but at the same she somehow ends up killing inadvertently almost everyone in her vicinity. Well, accidents happen, right? She can’t be blamed that someone gets eaten by termites or is crushed by a chandelier due to a very unfortunate circumstances caused indirectly by her. Bad luck, nice gnomes would pain the crime scene pink and everyone would be happy again.
However, everything Lilli does is justified by the higher goal. The girl wants to protect her best friend Edna from the evil grasp of menacing Doctor Marcel, a deranged child psychiatrist who makes youngsters obey at any cost. In order to achieve her aim, Lilli needs to defy adults, embark on an adventure reaching far beyond the familiar surroundings of the convent school and do away with mental blockades imposed on her by the evil quack. Quite a task for such a little girl, but she proves to be more than capable to overcome any obstacles.
The main advantage of the game is its brilliant and very specific – dark, unsettling and often cruel – humour. The narrator is the cause of most giggles. Since nothing beyond occasional monosyllables, slight coughs or hums escapes Lilli’s throat, the burden of letting the player know what’s going on rests on the narrator’s shoulders. The funny thing is, he recounts everything in a bedtime-story-like manner from the point of view of a little girl, who doesn’t really understand most of the things that are happening around her. The speaker produces the most absurd or disturbing lines in the same upbeat tone (“A clown! Lilli had never seen a live clown before! Only the dead one who stood outside her window at night.”). The contrast between the commentary and the reality is simply ludicrous. The game also winks at the player, for instance saying something along the lines: “What Lilii now did was void of all logic, and she could already hear the uproar of the online reviewers”. The characters we encounter during our journey are fun to watch as well, my favourite being the nerdy shaman, who speaks with Internet acronyms. The overall effect is stunning and many times I was simply rolling on the floor. Edna and Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is definitely not meant for sourpusses and people who treat everything too seriously. If you don’t fall into those two categories, there’s a big chance that you’ll have a jolly good laugh with this game.
But the quality of the game is not solely based on the humour. The puzzles are also strong with this one, as Master Yoda might have said. Most of them are inventory-based, which involve a lot of stealing, gathering and then finally using the objects in the appropriate place and way. The combinations are surprisingly logical, apart from a few puzzles that were deliberately prepared as weird just to spite the online reviewers (thanks a lot, game!). If we have some problems with finding hotspots, space bar comes to our aid. Too bad, however, that there are so few active points. I would love to see more of them, especially that their descriptions were usually hilarious.
Perhaps to make up for the shortages in that department, the game offers another interesting feature, namely mental restrictions. At some point, Lilli gets brainwashed and many bans are imposed on her, for instance “don’t play with fire” or “don’t use sharp objects”. Every time she tries to do something against the prohibition, she gets zapped and lectured on the wrongness of her way. That is obviously quite problematic, so to progress with the adventure we need to unblock those bans one by one. In order to do that, we enter a trance and transfer ourselves to a different, warped reality, like for example a pseudo-western town where dogs are playing poker. Once we get there, we need to outsmart and defeat the monster who represents a given ban. This is rather unique and I was glad for such interesting distractions. However, it’s a pity that in “real” world you can have only one of the prohibitions unblocked at the time, so you have to juggle between them as you solve puzzles requiring different naughty activities. It gets mildly irritating.
Occasionally we also encounter conundrums in the form of minigames or jigsaws that require more logical thinking. I enjoyed them a lot, especially the one that resembled a turn-based strategy game, but if you’re not a big fan of such challenges, the game allows you to skip them. That would be a shame, though, but hey – we should be glad for the choice.
As was stated previously, the graphics – it’s simplicity, colourfulness and idyllic character – may be deceiving and suggest a title for children. Obviously, that assumption is totally wrong. The visual side of the game may not be an eye-candy and the animation tends to be quite clunky at times, but it strangely fits to the story of a mad little girl. Too bad that the music is rather bland and repetitive. We hear only a few melodies which become tedious after a longer while. Fortunately, the game made up for that with a brilliant dubbing. The narrator deserves a standing ovation and the highest praises, while the rest of the cast doesn’t fall behind him. Bravo, great job! The game was originally published in German, but despite a few blunders where some phrases were left untranslated, the overall linguistic impression is very positive.
I didn’t expected to like Edna and Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes as much as I did, but that game was a really pleasant surprise. With three different, rather depressing endings and around 8 to 10 hours of gameplay it provides an enjoyable experience on the border of hilarity and creepiness. I recommend it to anyone hungry for a bit of grotesque and macabre – a perfect game for Halloween.
+Abundance of dark and weird humour
+Interesting and creative puzzles
-Too few hotspots