Edna & Harvey: The Breakout – Anniversary Edition is finally about to release on consoles, after coming to the PC late last year, allowing everyone to finally experience the first adventure starting the crazy duo. Whereas the sequel, Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes, released on all platforms early last year, this graphical and mechanically remastered twelve-year-old game took a little longer due to the complete overhaul which is in a similar vein to the Doublefine and old Monkey Island remasters. Although I’ve already reviewed it on PC (HERE), I couldn’t wait to revisit this hilarious story one more time…
As stated in my last review, I firmly believe this was meant to launch for the tenth anniversary of the game, which would have been 2018 or 2021 based on your territory, instead, it’s launched in both 2019 and 2020 – two dates which funnily enough lie in between both actual anniversaries. I imagine this was by accident, but based upon how insane the game can get, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was intentional!
So, let’s once again enter the strange and unstable mind of Edna as we plan one of the biggest and most dramatic breakouts of all time in; Edna & Harvey: The Breakout – Anniversary Edition…
As you’d probably guessed by now, Edna & Harvey: The Breakout is all about breaking out and escaping from the ‘prison’ you’re currently a captive of – which in this case is a sort-of sanitarium for the mentally insane. However, how could you be insane? It’s not like your best friend is a walking, talking stuffed bunny rabbit who can transport you to the past in order to learn special abilities to help you in the present… Oh, wait…
However, there’s more to the story than simply coming to terms with your condition and escaping into the real world, you have no memory of who you are or what you’re doing in this place – it’s as if someone has been wiping or suppressing your memories and keeping the truth about your past from you. So, your initial quest is to discover your past, find out why you’re within this place, and unlock various helpful abilities which you once knew as a child – thanks to Harvey – and then you must plan your escape with the help of other ‘patients’ within this mental institute.
If you’ve played the previous game, Harvey’s New Eyes, you’re going to love the adventures you experience within Edna & Harvey: The Breakout, even though the game itself isn’t as long and doesn’t have quite as many puzzles and abilities. However, you actually get to play as the titular characters throughout and experience just how crazy they can be when trying to solve a puzzle or make sense of what’s going on around them. Also, thanks to the improved mechanics and massive overhaul in the visual department, the game looks and feels like a modern point and click, rather than the much more simplistic and fiddly nature of the original 2008 release.
Edna & Harvey: The Breakout is a point-and-click adventure game which has been reformatted to work with a controller – as we’ve seen many times over the last few console generations. What this means is, you’re no longer ‘pointing and clicking’ with a mouse, you’re moving the protagonist around and then selecting from a variety of interaction points with the Right Thumbstick as you get close to them. There’s a wide variety of puzzle elements to solve, some requiring your to combine items, some you have to learn and utilise past abilities, and there are a number of environmental and ‘gifting’ puzzles, which involve using items on objects and people in the world.
Where Edna & Harvey: The Breakout really shines though is in its interactions with the world. Just like the best point-and-click games, you can instantly see all interaction points with the push of a button (which is a toggle in this game), allowing you to easily see who and what you can actually try and do things with. The difference between this game and other similar games is that in this one, almost everything is interactable! Edna and Harvey have something to say about (and to) everything, she’ll even talk to the plants, chairs, doors and toilets if you try.
The other thing I found surprising and creative was the number of things which can be defaced with ketchup, mustard and three styles of writing. You can literally write your name, squirt sauce on, or just scribble random things on a vast amount of objects. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game within this genre with this much interaction possibilities just for the fun of it – Sure, there are a few trophies tied into making a mess and writing on things, but a lot of the objects you can do this to aren’t included in that particular trophy checklist.
Initially, the puzzle elements are great as they’re cryptic and tricky to work out, but they all have some logic behind them. As such, working out what you have to do isn’t too difficult, it just takes a bit of trial and error when you’re being chased by a guard or constantly thrown back into your
cell room. But, I found the game became a little more tedious and annoying as you get further into it, especially when you get to a point where the main hallway is being guarded. Once you’re at this point, you have to distract the guard every time you want to come in or go out of the building, trekking back and forth due to the lack of a map or quick travel.
I also found some of the puzzles quite ‘Moon logic’-based (where it’s not clear why the solution is what it is), resorting in a lot of trial-and-error even though I’d played through the game to completion seven months ago on PC. As such, I resorted to a guide for some puzzles and I really wish I hadn’t as I missed out on a lot of the comedy and narrative the game has to offer. The guides out there simply tell you where to go and exactly what actions to do or dialogue to say, instructions which totally bypasses the extremely funny and crazy conversations you have when you’re simply picking all the options.
As such, although some of the puzzles can be confusing, and the wild goose chase for what to do in order to unlock some of the more obscure trophies is a bit frustrating, you’ll get much more out of the game by trying to solve things for yourself rather than following a step-by-step guide.
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2008 vs. 2020
I touched on this in my previous PC review but I thought it’s best to mention the differences here as well. As far as I can tell, the original version of Edna & Harvey: The Breakout only came to PC, it wasn’t ported onto any console (although it did come to mobiles in the original format). As such, when I played the original version on my PC, it was locked to 40fps and an 800×600 resolution, coupled with rather rough-looking visuals, quirky animations, fiddly verb-based interactions (like the old LucasFilm and Sierra games), and the entire game was presented in 4:3, making it stretch to my widescreen monitor.
The remaster, on the other hand, has had all of its assets totally re-drawn to allow a full 16:9 widescreen presentation, it runs at 60fps, the visuals now look modern and appealing, the animations are smoother (in most cases), and the verbs have been replaced with a much more efficient ‘action wheel’. These upgrades are also present in the new console edition (obviously), delivering a good-looking remaster which is not only visually more appealing but it’s also much easier to control with the Full Throttle-like action selection wheel.
If you’re a purist or someone like me who likes to see how the game has improved over the years, you can flick between the original and remastered visuals. The issue here is that this port is identical to the PC version from last year – including the fiddly process to swap between versions. You have to pause the game, go into the settings, then swap the visual style, back out (and wait for it to save), then return to the game.
I still don’t know why this function wasn’t a simple push of the touchpad or one of the shoulder buttons? Regardless, even if you switch to the old visuals (warning, they’re rough), the control method remains as the modern action wheel – the old verb-selection is gone. This is both good and bad – it’s good because figuring out the right command was a bit tricky sometimes, and it’s bad because it means reverting to the old version isn’t ‘fully’ reverting the game, only its visuals.
Finally, another thing I mentioned in my PC review was the removal of the director commentary – this is also true in the console version. The original game had an update at some point which added the option to play the entire game with commentary, albeit in German. This has been removed from the anniversary edition and not replaced with a new track or feature. I really wanted Daedalic Entertainment to re-insert this track (as the gameplay is identical so timing and relevance will still match up to what’s being said) and re-record an English version so that we could also experience the comments the developers made as we played the game. But, as of release, this is a very bare-bones ‘Anniversary Edition’.
I personally really enjoyed the narrative within Edna & Harvey: The Breakout, although I prefer Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes as that game had more ‘abilities’ and the puzzles were a little more understandable as they usually boiled down to using the correct ability to bypass a situation. But, looking at this game as its own thing, without comparing it to any other game in the franchise or genre, it was a fun and challenging experience which was crammed full of hilarious conversations and zany interactions. Avoiding all spoilers, the direction the story went in and the conclusion to the narrative was one which I found quite surprising and something I hadn’t even guessed until that point. This is actually quite rare these days as you can usually guess what the finale is going to be long before you even get there.
Should you replay it?
If you’ve played the original version of Edna & Harvey: The Breakout on PC, should you pick up the remastered edition on PC or Console (it’s not a free update on Steam)? I’d say yes. The game is much more playable now, with the action wheel, and the visuals look a lot better than the ‘Microsoft Paint’ look it had originally. However, this is a literal 1:1 remaster – the story is the same, every scene has been re-made but is identical in every way, the vocals are the same (yet still brilliant), and interestingly, the animations seem the same…
I touched on this in my PC review, it’s as if the developers have simply re-drawn the assets and inserted them over the original base code, along with the original janky animations. Now, most of the animations are fine and look much better, due to there being more frames being drawn via the higher framerate, but some are questionable. For example, there are a few instances where there is no animations and the characters simple ‘teleport’ to their final destination.
Also, another thing I picked up on last time, they’ve smoothed out Edna’s butt in the remaster – this isn’t a big thing, as she’s clearly a young girl, but it’s one of the first things I noticed when comparing the original visuals to the remaster. Everything else got a graphical upgrade, but her posterior was made flat and less-defined as it pokes out of her surgical gown.
My only complaint
Again, I touched on this in the PC review – I feel that as an ‘Anniversary Edition’, Edna & Harvey: The Breakout is very underwhelming. I love the new visual style and the new way to interact with things is very welcome and works perfectly. However, that’s what we’d expect from a ‘remaster’, which is what this is, it’s a remastered version of the original 2008 PC game. ‘Anniversary’ to me means celebrating the game by looking back over what’s happened since the game released, showcasing unseen aspects and giving the gamer information and insight into everything to do with the franchise.
However, there’s no included soundtrack, there’s no gallery of concept or fan art, nothing telling you about the sequel (not even a trailer), no directors commentary (which was in the original game, but in German), there’s literally nothing extra other than the remastered improvements. Now, I know this could be seen as me being picky and wanting something which wasn’t promised or advertised, but the ‘Anniversary’ tag made me envision these extras, I wanted this to be a celebration of the franchise and to get people excited to go out and play both titles and support this very funny series – so we can possibly get another title in the future.
Aside from the negatives I have with the overall presentation and included ‘features’ though, the game and the upgrades presented are great. This is one of the few point-and-click games which have been modernised in various ways for new gamers and I applaud them for doing so – they could have just released the sequel and not the first game if they wanted (Yes, I’m still waiting for The Whispered World on consoles, Daedalic Entertainment).
If you want to see how to correctly remaster a 2d point-and-click game, check out Edna & Harvey: The Breakout – Anniversary Edition. Not only are we given more polished and colourful visuals in a 16:9 aspect ratio, but the gameplay mechanics have been overhauled to make the experience much more fun and less frustrating. The level of interaction within the game goes far beyond anything I’ve seen from other titles in the genre, and the humorous dialogue and events continue throughout, even if the story does get a little dark at times. The lack of actual ‘anniversary’ bonus extras is a bit disappointing, but the overall package is brilliant and should be part of any point-and-click fan’s collection.
If you enjoy the zany adventure of Edna & Harvey, why not check out Harvey’s New Eyes and the Deponia series, all five titles are out now on all platforms, as well as Silence and the brilliant Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth.
Edna & Harvey: The Breakout – Anniversary Edition
- - 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
- - 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