Posted on October 29, 2012 AT 06:58am
Daedalic Entertainment seems to know what adventure gamers want for Halloween: A fun and unusual point-and-click adventure. Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes offers exactly that, with a big ol’ dollop of creepy to top it all off.
Harvey’s New Eyes is the semi-sequel to Edna & Harvey: The Breakout. In the original, you played as Edna and carried with you the pyromaniacal stuffed bunny, Harvey. I, unfortunately, haven’t had the privilege of playing The Breakout. Instead of playing as the titular duo, you instead control Lilli, who is ‘seemingly, the best-behaved little girl in the world’. She performs whatever tasks are asked of her, no matter how crappy they seem. Lilli doesn’t appear to have much to say, though I suspect she would if everyone didn’t keep interrupting her. The majority of her speech is single syllables, and even those are often cut off by whoever she happens to be speaking to.
Lilli lives at a small convent school, run by Mother Superior Ignatz, who absolutely despises ch-ch-children and would rather they all be mindless drones instead of being forced to hear their cheerful noises. But, enough about the angry nun. Let’s talk a bit more about Lilli. She doesn’t like to see violence. That’s not a problem, though, because there are potato-shaped gnomes who helpfully paint anything that might upset her in a calming shade of pink. Whether or not they’re really there is another matter entirely. As the game proceeds, you’ll find yourself questioning a lot of things, not just the censor-gnomes.
Lilli’s classmates are just dying to be her friend! Well, they’re dying, at least.
Lilli has just one friend: Edna. Nobody else likes her, because they think that she’s both a goodie-two-shoes and that bad things seem to follow her. She’s a walking calamity and doesn’t even know it. By the time you’re out of chapter one, the number of fatal accidents is embarrassingly high. Don’t worry about Lilli, though, she’s fine. Physically, at least.
Harvey’s New Eyes was a joy to play, though extraordinarily disturbing at times. It’s not the sort of disturbing that will keep you up at night [Well, maybe it will. I'm not really the best example of a 'normal' individual.] but you’ll certainly find some of Lilli’s actions… Morally unsound. Equally as unusual is how those around her seem to respond to these actions… Or rather, how they don’t. That is just the beginning of the oddities that make up this game. It’s hard to continue talking about the plot without spoiling anything, so I’ll proceed on to the gameplay!
It is, for the most part, your typical point-and-click affair, as controls go. You have a context sensitive Harvey-head-shaped mouse icon, an easy to access Inventory system, save/load anytime functionality, puzzles, and gobs of ‘adventure game logic’. In fact, there’s even a fourth wall breaking moment which the narrator notes is ‘void of logic’ and that us internet reviewers will be in an uproar about it. The only uproar for me in that case is that there weren’t more times that logic didn’t apply; I love ‘adventure game logic’!
No adventure game logic here. Just Lilli, a live explosive, and lots of SHIBUYA POWER!
There’s not a lot wrong with the game, overall. What is wrong about it sticks in my craw. First of all: There’s no auto-save function. If you’re not one of those ‘save often’ players, this will be the bane of your existence. I had stopped to take a break from the game at one point, not realizing I didn’t yet have a single saved game. If I hadn’t had the inkling to double check my saves, I would’ve ended up losing all of my progress and have been forced to start the entire game over. Secondly: Several of the voices are teeth-clenchingly awful to listen to, one of which being the guy who walks you through the Tutorial. Most of the voices are fair to excellent, but the ones that are bad makes me wish they were as near-mute as Lilli. I won’t complain too much, because even AAA productions have a voice or two that I’d rather go without having to hear. Lastly: The puzzles, be they item based or minigame based, are almost always far too easy. Seasoned adventure game players will likely breeze through the game without much trouble at all. I hope that they think to add something similar to Curse of Monkey Island’s ‘Mega Monkey’ super-hard difficulty mode to their future games.
Those issues aside, the game is a lot of fun. The unseen Narrator, whose sarcastic barbs and children’s storyteller-like tone make the twisted descriptions throughout the game absolutely hilarious. He tends to vocalize his ill-will toward those who give Lilli grief in lieu of Lilli herself actually being angry; A part of me feels as if the Narrator is Lilli’s inner monologue and he could possibly have been in league with the censor-gnomes. The humor ranges from childishly cartoonish all the way to dark and bizarre. You will often find yourself cracking up one minute, then horrified the next… and still smiling. It does feel like there is a little humor that was lost in translation from the original German text, but you’re never left feeling a gag didn’t make sense.
Harvey’s New Eyes has what is certainly my favorite Quick Time Event ever [and I hate QTEs with a passion]. It even has an achievement for said QTE which bears the description ‘They don’t really have quicktime events in this game, right?‘ There’s several other off-the-wall achievements to earn, including one for skipping a certain number of minigames. The game throws some interesting restrictions into the mix toward the end of the first chapter, making actions that would usually be simple require a touch of either creative thinking or digging into Lilli’s psyche. If you think your solution to a problem seems too strange to work, you’re probably on the right track.
Some may be put off by the odd art style and minimalistic animation of the game, but it gives it a certain quirky charm that just works in the context of the game’s world. The music also meshes perfectly with the world, and the opening theme ‘Needle and Thread’ sounds a touch cheesy, yet has a vaguely eerie sound to it. The line from the song, ‘I can’t stand to see children bleed’, is ever so slightly telling, considering the pink paint wielding censor-gnomes. I’m terribly tempted to invest in a copy of the soundtrack, if they have it available as a stand-alone purchase [As far as I can tell, you can only get a digital version of the OST if you purchase the Edna & Harvey Bundle from GOG.com, which includes both The Breakout and Harvey's New Eyes, as well as the OST and other various goodies].
Ice Harvey sez: You must not play with fire. Woooooogie! Woooooogie!
SUMMARY: If you’re looking for a darkly comedic adventure game that isn’t too tough, Harvey’s New Eyes is definitely worth a look! The art style is refreshing, the music is pretty catchy, and the humor is a bit on the sick side. Entry level and seasoned adventure gamers alike will find something to enjoy, as long as you remember to save.
Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is available on Steam and GOG.com for $19.99. I love Steam and all, but if I were you, I’d go with the Edna & Harvey Bundle on GOG since you get over twice the content for the exact same price!
- THE GOOD: Quirky and dark humor, great music, unique plot, best QTE ever.
- THE BAD: No auto-save, easy puzzles, a few grating voiceovers.
- THE UGLY: The truth of Valley of Unpleasant Memories. But is the truth ever not ugly?
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