Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is Daedalic’s spin-off title from their 2008 indie offering Edna & Harvey: The Breakout. While I didn’t play the first title, the very nature of a spin-off may be the fact that you can jump in and understand what’s going on without having done so.
This second title focuses on Edna’s friend Lilli, who is at the same convent as her, under the ever-watchful and despiteful eyes of Mother Superior. Lilli is a fairly likable, yet completely clueless, girl whose only real friend is Edna. She typically does what she’s told to do by Mother Superior and isn’t as liked by the other kids at the convent as she tends to innocently think she is.
In the previous game, Edna had escaped from a psychiatrist, Dr. Marcel, who held her in an asylum and, after you learn a little about Edna’s character, you’ll probably understand why she was locked up. This Dr. Marcel has always attempted to keep children under control, and when Edna learns that he’s at it again, she wants to distance herself from this whacko by eliminating any evidence that exists of her being at the asylum. This is where Lilli comes in, as her friend, Edna, enlists her help for the cover-up.
Along the way many thing happen – from Lilli being controlled by a talking rabbit (Harvey) to students at the convent mysteriously disappearing – and you have to figure it all out in a point-and-click manner.
The story seems pretty simplistic, with a bit of an psychotic air about the whole thing, which gives the game a vague sense of surrealism that I actually enjoyed. It’s more than just some kids at a convent, but instead the setting and the characters involved seem like they all have a dark side – even Lilli, who comes off as such a sweet, innocent girl at the beginning of the game. That all attributes to the game’s charm.
Each character also has their individual personality and quirks. Even the way simple narrations like the tutorial are presented, you get this overwhelming sense of detail attributed to this world that, on the surface, may seem pretty simple. Unfortunately, sometimes dialog seems to be very drawn out and long-winded, with pauses between sentences and when one character stops and another starts speaking. Not to mention it seems no one in this world is in a hurry to do anything, so it does feel like you’re doing more waiting around than actually playing the game in some respects.
All that being said, this is, at its heart, a point-and-click adventure game, so there is a sense of trial and error trying to figure things out. Around the various areas that you can explore, there are objects to interact with. Some of them you can pick up and keep in your inventory to use later, some you can only use in that one area and some are stationary, which you can interact with to perform various actions.
Some things in the environment you will have to use an object in your inventory on to progress the game and make things work to get the outcome that the game requires to make a certain action happen. I’m not a huge fan of trial-and-error type gameplay, but it isn’t taken to the extreme here, and things are pretty straightforward, especially since many of the objects align to their real-world application, such as using a rake to clean up leaves. In addition, there is a huge hint system – by hitting the space bar, you will be shown exactly what things on the screen can be interacted with using the currently-equipped item. If you don’t have anything equipped, everything on the screen you can possibly interact with will be highlighted.
Each object sitting in the world could have one of two actions you can do with it – use it (or use something in your inventory on it) or look at it. Each possible action generates various results, some of them are narrated quite hilariously, which, again, adds to the atmosphere of the game. Hint: The narrator is a sarcastic bastard.
The inconsequential tasks Lilli is given to do seem to fill the bulk of the game, practically to the point where the real meat and potatoes seems like the “B” story. The truly fun parts (such as confronting the demons in the alternate “Old West” world) are few and far between, while the trivial and eventually boring and repetitive aspects seem to fill in the massive holes.
The game does have a certain – sometimes morbid – sense of humor and is simple and easy to play, but can certainly get boring fairly quickly, thanks to the disjointed progression and the sometimes painfully slow dialog and character movements. For a point-and-click adventure, it’s very streamlined, if to the point of being too simplistic, but the story and characters delight and make you either smile or simply give yourself a huge “WTF” at just about every turn. Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is a charming adventure title if you can remain interested in what the point of the story is, otherwise you may find yourself falling asleep at the keyboard.