Daedalic Entertainment are among my favourite publishers (and sometimes developers) for classic point-and-click style games. From the brilliant, and often overlooked, Deponia series (which is now available in its entirety on modern consoles), to the deep and captivating Pillars of the Earth adaptation, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every adventure game they’ve released. So, when I saw that Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes was heading to the PS4, I had to get my hands on it and try it out as it’s one of the few games from the publisher which I’ve yet to play.
Despite once again being the second game in a series (Silence, I’m looking at you), prior knowledge of the original, Edna & Harvey: The Breakout, isn’t required in order to fully enjoy this outing. However, I’ve never understood why some developers (THQ have done it as well with The Book of Unwritten Tales 2) decide to only port over the second or third title in series, rather than the entire collection – like we saw with Deponia. Regardless, I’ve not played the original game, so I’ve gone into this game with new eyes (pardon the pun) purposely to see if it impacted my enjoyment by not experiencing the first game.
Although Edna & Harvey are the titular characters and do appear within the game, neither are actually playable or the main protagonist – Think The Legend of Zelda, yet you never play as her. Instead, we take control of the innocent and well-behaved Lilli, a young orphan student who currently resides within a convent ran by a very strict Mother Superior. Despite what you may think, it appears within this world, you don’t have to be kind to look after children as the Mother Superior literally hates them with a passion – every little thing they do and say irritates her beyond belief.
To top this off, all the other children constantly pick on poor Lilli, even when she doesn’t realise they’re being mean to her. Her only friend in this dark and depressing place is the titular Edna, another orphan who, unlike Lilli, is well aware that everyone hates them as she constantly hides from the other students.
Things take another turn for the worse when Dr. Marcel turns up at the Convent in hopes of getting the children ‘under control’ – I believe this doctor is from the first game and was the psychiatrist from the place Edna ‘Broke out’ of. That piece of information is crucial as Edna sends Lilli on a quest to destroy all evidence of her ever being within the convent so that she may plan her escape and get out of there before he clocks on.
However, things aren’t that simple. Lilli ends up the guinea pig in the control experiment and she has all her freewill and specific actions stripped from her. So, in order to overcome these restrictions, you must unlock them throughout the game, a mechanic which helps this game stand out from other point-and-click titles as it’s a mechanic which drastically changes the gameplay.
Harvey’s New Eyes controls great on the PS4. It’s your standard point-and-click game, with simple one or two-button mechanics, but it’s using the Deponia format. Basically, you can bring up your inventory, when you have to combine items or grab them for use in the environment or with people, or you can use the D-Pad to select them via a mini-inventory at the bottom of the screen. This is exactly the same as we saw in Deponia and it works really well, it makes it easy to quickly select items without going backwards and forwards through the inventory screen.
Conversations, of which there are many, are actually more akin to old Lucas Arts games, such as Sam and Max, as you don’t actually get worded responses or questions (as the running joke is that Lilli doesn’t actually talk, she just communicates in grunts, “ahh”, “uhmm” and “ohh”, yet everyone understands what she’s saying). Instead, you get small pictured images which are sometimes hard to make out what they represent. Although Lilli is a strange child with very little to say, all of the other characters are voiced beautifully. Now, I’m not saying Lilli isn’t voiced well, as I enjoyed hearing her mumblings, but the other voice actors, who had more than four words to say, also did a great job.
My highlight, in terms of the voice acting, has to be the narrator. He’ll regularly start talking as you play, telling you what he presumes Lilli is thinking about or about to do, sometimes with her breaking the fourth wall and staring into our soul as if to say “that’s not what I was thinking”. It was almost akin to The Stanley Parable, the narrator holds the entire game together and offers both hints and insight into the events which are happening without blatantly giving you the next place to go or thing to do.
Okay, so I’ve not talked about Harvey yet – just who is he and why is he in the title of the game? Well, I don’t know his origins, as that may have been explained within the first game, but he’s basically a stuffed rabbit. In Harvey’s New Eyes, he’s been ‘upgraded’ by the doctor so that he serves as the hypo-device which is set to ‘fix’ the children. As such, once you’re under his spell, whenever you try to do anything you shouldn’t be doing, a ‘living’ Harvey will stroll in from the side of the screen and stop you.
There are a number of ‘restrictions’ you have, such as picking up and using sharp objects, playing with fire, drinking alcohol, and lying to people. As you progress throughout the game, you’ll come across instances where you need to perform the actions you’ve been disabled from doing. So, you venture into your subconscious and solve a few puzzles to unlock the restrictions one by one. However, they don’t just unlock and stack, like unlocking skills in an RPG, you can only use one unlock at a time via the use of a radial menu. This adds a new level onto the adventure game as not only do you need the right items, but you also need to be in the correct ‘state’ in order to solve some puzzles.
Personally, I thought this mechanic was cool and offered a new way to look at things. It also added more difficulty to the overall experience as you had to think about multiple things in order to overcome the problems in front of you. Obviously, this difficulty can be thrown out of the window if you’re simply following a guide in order to achieve the three-hour platinum, but if you take your time and play it yourself, it works really well.
Speaking of puzzles, I thought there were some challenging ones within Harvey’s New Eyes. Looking online, it seems I may be in the minority here, but it’s a combination of standard puzzles reskinned into the game’s art style and some cryptic ones which require you to talk to a few people for the answers. I never got too stuck that I had to look up an answer online, but there were a few which took me a few attempts to get them right – which didn’t help with the trophies as you have to get them correct the first time on a number of them. If you do get really stuck though, every puzzle has an option to simply skip it.
Trophy hunters (or those looking for the plat in one playthrough) – There are trophies for completing the puzzles and one for skipping them all. So, save before you solve it, then reload and skip.
Outside of the standard ‘puzzles’, there are environmental puzzles, where you use items you’ve picked up to interact with the environment and people, and conversational puzzles (not really a ‘puzzle’ but saying the right things to the right people will progress the story).
Daedalic Entertainment games, and a number of other point-and-click games, always appeal to me for a number of reasons. One such ‘thing’ which has to be good in order to keep me interested is the overall narrative. I’m happy to say that Harvey’s New Eyes was a joy to play and entertaining to experience. The game is crammed full of humour, references and puns, just like Agatha Knife, which keeps you invested in what’s going to happen next and what silly dialogue will be spoken. However, when looking deeper into the game, you can’t help but feel sad for Lilli as she’s become almost immune to all the abuse her ‘friends’ and superior’s gave her on a daily basis. She’s a rather traumatic individual.
Without going into Spoiler-Ville, the actual underlined narrative of the game is rather dark and disturbing at times. Thanks to Lilli being unable to comprehend what’s going on around her, as well as little to no understanding of what her actions may lead to, things get rather morbid throughout. To put it bluntly, people die, a lot of people die, all at the hand of poor, innocent Lilli. However, this isn’t a gore-fest or gruesome adventure game, it’s much more lighthearted with bright baby-pink blood covering the remains of the student who hung themselves, the one who blew up, the guy who died of lung cancer, etc… I was always so intrigued as to who was going to die next and how – it’s not disturbing, just a morbid curiosity!
The main thing which had me hooked from the very first time I loaded up the game though was the opening song. It’s called “Needle and Stitch” and was sung by the lead developer. It’s just so haunting, dark, catchy, and perfectly sets the mood for the subsequent adventure. The entire soundtrack to the game is a stand-out addition to the quality on show here. As such, I’ve just gone to steam and bought it (as the game and soundtrack are on sale until the 10th October 2019).
I can’t finish off my review without discussing the elephant in the room – the visuals. The entire game has a simplistic and almost child-like storybook look to it, with its bold colours, low-detailed aesthetics, and basic animations, but it all works really well for the impression it’s trying to give. The way I always imagine these simplistic games is, what would the world look like through the eyes of our protagonist? Don’t forget, Lilli is an innocent and sweet girl who has been abused and taken advantage of to the point of her no longer understanding what’s going on and why people act the way they do. As such, she sees everything as colourful characters and of childish design.
If the visuals are putting you off buying the game (as I know a few people who think the same way), don’t let them. The gameplay buried deep below the artistic aesthetics more than makes up for the simplistic take on the genre. If you’ve played games like the Deponia series or Silence, you’ll love Harvey’s New Eyes – I’ve heard it’s a lot better than the first game as well but, once again, I’ve not played it so I can’t confirm that.
Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is yet another great point-and-click game from Daedalic Entertainment. Despite its bright and humourous exterior, underneath is a dark and twisted tale of depression, anxiety, pain and acceptance. The numerous ‘restrictions’ you have to remove in order to proceed with various puzzles and interactions really adds a new level to the game, making you think about the solution in multiple ways. The music and overall narrative were spot-on for the experience they were trying to deliver, the narrator stands out as one of the best in recent years and I simply adore the opening song to the game. The port onto modern consoles is also great, with no issues or bugs that I could see.
If you’re looking for a new adventure game which will take you around five hours to complete and crammed full of humour and crazy adventures – check out Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes. Despite the simplistic visuals, the narrative and experience is anything but simplistic…
**Upon finishing the review, I found out that Edna & Harvey: The Breakout IS coming to modern consoles, it was expected a few months ago but seems it’s still not got a solid release date. So, we should soon have the chance to play the first game on modern platforms (for the 10th anniversary) after all!**
Edna & Harvey: Harvey's New Eyes£15.99
- - Really funny narrative
- - Great soundtrack and voice acting
- - Great use of the 'restriction' mechanic, forcing you to think about puzzles in multiple ways
- - Lilli is very likable, despite having me feel sorry for her most of the time
- - Simplistic but fitting visuals
- - Some puzzle solutions were a bit tricky yet some were really easy
- - This is the second game in the series. No prior knowledge is required but would be useful in some instances
- - The ending...