A few months ago I played and reviewed Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes on the PlayStation 4, the second game in the Edna & Harvey franchise from Daedalic Entertainment. Whilst writing the review I noticed that a full remaster of the first game in the series was supposedly coming to both PC and current consoles, yet there was no information other than a release date which had come and gone. Much to my surprise, Edna & Harvey: The Breakout – Anniversary Edition had a very stealthy launch a few days ago over on Steam – how could I resist getting hold of it and experiencing their first adventure?!
Originally launching in June 2008 within German territories (and 2011 in English), in celebration of its 11th Anniversary (I imagine development may have pushed it past the 10th year) the game has received a massive overhaul with both it’s mechanics and visuals. Seriously, swapping between both the original version and the newly remastered one (which you can do in-game) is a night and day transformation which brings the childish-like visuals more in-line with the quality we usually get from Daedalic Entertainment titles.
With a console version most likely still in development or at an optimisation stage, I booted up Edna & Harvey: The Breakout – Anniversary Edition on my PC and absorbed myself within the weird and wacky world of young Edna. However, thanks to the toggle, I was interested in seeing if things were changed for the better or worse as I’d not played the original before. So, let’s take a closer look…
Edna & Harvey: The Breakout starts off with the titular protagonist, Edna, waking up within the padded cell of a sanitarium, a building inhabited by people of varying levels of craziness. The strange thing is, she has no memories of why she is here, what she’s done, or where exactly she is (other than what kind of building it is). Although the guard at the door thinks you’re crazy, Harvey, your talking stuffed bunny rabbit, agrees that there must be a mistake as you’re completely sane!
The title of the game most likely gives away the plot of this adventure, you must break out and seek the truth behind why you were locked up and what’s happened to your family. However, things aren’t as easy as they sound as you must befriend the various madmen and utilise their questionable abilities in order to move freely through the building and organise a cunning plan to free yourself. Harvey isn’t only your best (and only) friend throughout this elaborate adventure, he also helps in restoring memories and reminds you how to perform certain abilities of your own, abilities you had suppressed within your mind that prove to be very useful as the story plays out.
Although not as long as the second game, with far fewer puzzles and abilities throughout, The Breakout is an exciting adventure which will have you questioning your own sanity as you work out the solutions to the many rather cryptic inventory-based puzzles and dialogue choices. If you’ve never played any of the games before, or you gave The Breakout a miss due to its dated-looking visuals, now is the best time to jump in and see where it all began…
Before I look at the gameplay and the narrative, let’s take a look at the differences. I actually own the original Edna & Harvey: The Breakout but I’ve never played it before as I, as I mentioned above, was put off by the quality of the visuals (sorry devs!). However, for this review, I not only swapped between the new and original visuals within the Anniversary Edition, but I also loaded up the original game and played that for a while to see just how different things were. I’m incredibly happy I did this as one of the major complaints the original game got has been fixed but there is also a missing feature which I would love to be reinstated.
The main difference between the original and this version has to be the controls. Originally, The Breakout was a homage to LucasArts Games-style point-and-click adventure games, although it took the inspiration a little to far and had verb buttons along the bottom of the screen. These were akin to The Secret of Monkey Island, requiring you to manually pick a verb then click on something on-screen in hopes that the character would interact correctly. The remaster has removed those and now you simply hold the Left Mouse Button and pick an action from a radial of options. Sticking with the LucasArts Games similarities, the Monkey Island Special Edition remaster also had similar control scheme improvements.
Visually and technically, the original game ran at a locked 800×600 resolution and maxed out at 40fps. For me, this meant the 4:3 resolution was stretched to fit my 1080p Monitor resulting in a very blurry image and ‘fat’ assets. The remaster is 60fps and allows a multitude of resolutions in both windowed and full-screen mode. Also, the remastered art is now presented in full 16:9 glory and if you flick to the original visuals in-game, it swaps to a 4:3 display which isn’t stretched and has scaled to your chosen resolution perfectly with side borders. The only issue I have with this is that you have to go into the menu to swap modes – a simple ‘F’ button swap would have been more convenient. Also, if you flick to the original visuals, you still have the modern controls – no more verbs!
There is one thing omitted from the remaster, something I would love to be reinstated but I don’t know if it will – the developer’s commentary. When I first saw this option in the original game I immediately wondered why it’s missing from the new release, then I realised that all the commentary is in German as the developers are German. However, it would be great if Daedalic Entertainment could translate the commentary by either providing English subtitles or dubbing it with an English speaker – I’d love to hear about the ideas behind the game and the thoughts of the developers.
As mentioned above, The Breakout is a point-and-click adventure game which is clearly inspired by moon-logic games of the past such as Discworld and LucasArts Games titles. There are some puzzles for you to solve but the majority of your little grey cells will be used towards figuring out what item to use with certain characters, how to deliver a message to a security guard without talking to him, how to start a food fight which you’re not a part of, and how to brutally kill someone without touching them. Some of the solutions are straightforward and won’t require much thought, others will have you trying literally everything you have in your inventory on everything you can see – standard point-and-click mechanics!
Thankfully, The Breakout allows you to use a mechanic a lot of games in this genre haven’t implimented recently, you can highlight all possible interactive items and people by pushing Space. The original game had the names pop up for a few seconds then vanish but the remaster toggles the names to be always on or off, so you can turn it on then play the entire game with the helpful indicators on-screen forever if you choose to do so. Although this does make the game a little easier, I’d still recommend a bit of trial and error, clicking on things to see what they do and asking every person you meet every dialogue option you have – the writing is very funny and there are so many puns and references hidden within the story.
One of the first things I didn’t like was the lack of a map, due to having to continuously sneak around the asylum via secret passages and ducts so that you’re not caught by the staff as you explore the other floors. However, a map in this game wouldn’t feel right as you’re a
prisoner patient within this building so fast travel seems like cheating. So, although you have to manually move about on your own, it all makes sense and ultimately makes it a better game because of this.
The story within The Breakout is great although I personally preferred Harvey’s New Eyes in terms of the overall narrative. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the humour and craziness written within the dialogue and interactions during my playthrough of The Breakout. One major difference between the two games is how dark the second game is in comparison to the light-heartedness of this first game. Sure, it has its moments and there are a few scenes of death and destruction, but overall The Breakout tends to explore the humorous and silly antics which Edna and her talking stuffed rabbit get up to.
As I said above, I’d advise you to not look at any guides or walkthroughs and try to complete the game on your own by experimenting. This is because the guides tend to take you from point A to B, allowing you to complete the game in around four hours. However, if you were to play it blind and go at your own pace, you’ll uncover tonnes of funny narrative and events which are missed through getting things right every time, opening up the game to be a 15+ hour adventure instead.
The ‘new’ visuals
I absolutely love the new visuals within the Anniversary Edition of The Breakout. Every single screen has been redrawn based upon the original images yet they look so new and fresh – it feels like you’re playing a brand new game. The colours are much more vibrant, the character models look more ‘realistic’ than their ‘Microsoft Paint’-like originals, and the shading helps the entire presentation look like you’re playing a cartoon or a comic book which has come to life. Hats off to the artists who redesigned this version, they did a great job.
The visuals aren’t the only improvements as the jump to 60fps also brought with it new animations which are much smoother and pleasing to look at. Whereas Edna crawling in the original game looked like she had come straight out of a horror movie as she jerkily crawled around with seemingly missed frames, she now moves in a more fluid motion as she squeezes through the dirty air-ducts. However, not everything is as good as I would have hoped for as there have been a number of ‘short cuts’ in terms of the animation, actions which I’m not sure were like this in the original game or not.
The first short cut I noticed was when you knock out a guy early on into the game. There’s an animation of you lifting up the hammer but the guy then instantly appears as legs on the ground – no animation of him falling or the hit taking place, one minute he’s stood up and then, feet on the ground. There are other instances like this where you’ll jump cut instead of performing an animation. Again, these aren’t big issues and didn’t affect my enjoyment, but it would have been nice if certain actions were a little smoother and more visual.
One of the most controversial changes (in my opinion) is the new animation and visuals for Edna’s butt! In the original visual style, walking around has Edna’s butt stick out from the back of her open hospital gown, exposing the defined crack and cheeks of her perky rear. The remaster is the same only the gown isn’t as open and she now has a butt as flat as a pancake. Personally, I’m not bothered as I’m pretty sure Edna is a teenager and her butt shouldn’t really be the focus of what I’m looking at, but it was the most obvious ‘change’ other than the new art-style and expanded 16:9 view. (Check out the comparison above – which do you prefer?)
A worthy remaster?
As far as remasters go, The Breakout sits up there as one of the best from recent years. Instead of simply increasing the resolution or porting the game to a new platform, they’ve gone back and fully remastered each and every scene along with improving all of the animations and character assets. There are a few changes which some people may not be a fan of, depending on how much they loved the original distorted visual-style, but as a newcomer to the game, I can’t really say anything bad about the overall presentation or quality.
I feel the game would have added more incentive for owners of the original to pick it up if the developers had translated their developer’s commentary into English via subtitles or by getting it dubbed, as that’s a feature I don’t think we’ve ever had outside of German. Also, as it’s technically the 10th Anniversary being celebrated, you’d expect there to be some bonus features as part of this release. Don’t get me wrong, I love the new art style, but why isn’t there some behind the scenes, bonus artwork, information on the second game, developer bios, the soundtrack, deleted scenes etc…
Well, there is a soundtrack but it’ll cost you £2.49 and it appears to be exactly the same as the one you can buy with the original game for only £1.99 (at the moment it’s 39p). I know the developers and publisher want to make as much as they can on this release – and I believe they’ve given us a great game at a decent price, but I feel the soundtrack should have really been part of the bundle, at the very least, due to the game being a special Anniversary Edition.
On a side note, this new version is NOT free for owners of the original game – something PC gamers have come to expect over the years (blatantly ignoring the fact that work has gone into updating the game so some form of payment is obviously required to fund the development). However, if you own the original game, you get a discount towards this new version.
Edna & Harvey: The Breakout – Anniversary Edition is the remaster this game deserves. Not only have the visuals been redone into a new cleaner art style, but the animations have been improved, the controls have been overhauled to become more modern, and the game now fully supports widescreen monitors. The game itself is a fun adventure into the crazy world of Edna and her talking bunny, Harvey, which is filled with strange people and eventful situations. Although some solutions may seem confusing or unbelievable, sometimes doing the wrong thing results in more fun and hilarious dialogue than getting it right! Despite the lack of bonus features for the Anniversary, fans of the game or genre will love this graphically beautiful remaster.
Now we have the Edna & Harvey: The Breakout – Anniversary Edition released on PC (with hopefully a console release soon), as well as the second game on consoles a few months ago, I’m still hoping we’ll get a remaster of the original The Whispered World or The Night of the Rabbit at some point too.
Edna & Harvey: The Breakout - Anniversary Edition£17.49
- - Brilliant narrative and dialogue with lots of funny and crazy moments
- - The visuals are a massive improvement on the original assets and backgrounds
- - The controls have been fully modernised
- - An interesting story which hooks you as you want to find out the truth
- - No bonus features celebrating the Anniversary. The developer commentary (albeit in German) was removed and the soundtrack seems to be the same as the original game only it's now more expensive
- - Although the visuals look a lot cleaner and modernised, some things aren't as detailed as they were before 'butt' I guess there may be a reason for that?
- - Some solutions are rather cryptic but that's what you'd expect from an older point-and-click game which took inspiration from the LucasArts Games games