Having escaped from a mental hospital in the point-and-click adventure Edna & Harvey: The Breakout back in 2008, the titular characters returned for a sequel in 2012’s Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes. Now, some seven years later, the developers at Daedalic Entertainment have decided to bring one of these games to the console market. For whatever reason, they chose the sequel, but is Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes able to survive and thrive on its own, or is it lost without the original game to lay down the necessary foundations?
Fortunately, it doesn’t matter too much if you’ve never played The Breakout because there’s a new protagonist in Harvey’s New Eyes and the aforementioned duo are merely part of the supporting ensemble. Given the increasing amount of point-and-clicker games that have recently emerged on Xbox One – the likes of Apocalipsis: The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and Bear With Me – let’s figure out whether it’s one worth delving into.
This time, the spotlight is on a young girl called Lilli. She
resides at a very strict boarding school that’s run by a convent and it appears
that many of the other children here are troublesome. The infamous Edna is one
of them and she enlists the help of Lilli to take on a number of tasks to avoid
being caught by a visiting Dr. Marcel – a key character from the first game. If
the doctor finds Edna, he’ll take her back to the asylum and continue
practicing his unorthodox therapy methods.
Without spoiling anything else, that’s the basis of the story and you’ll find plenty of dark humour to make you chuckle. Admittedly, it’s a slow-burner, but eventually you’ll be drawn in by the big personalities like Mother Superior, who’s head of the convent; Gerret, a sinister and suspicious looking chap; Suka and Shy, two girls obsessed with a Japanese manga; and Harvey, a soft toy rabbit used to brainwash kids. Truth be told, almost every character is more interesting than Lilli and that’s the most disappointing aspect.
Lilli can engage in conversations with folk to gain more insight into what she needs to do in order to achieve her objectives, however she doesn’t really talk; instead, she just makes sounds indicating agreement and such. A narrator tries to flesh out the character and inform you about how she’s a very unlucky child who tends to see those around her get hurt – usually as a result of her own actions – but it’s still hard to connect and become invested in Lilli.
For the majority of Harvey’s New Eyes, it’ll be a case of exploring the school grounds and later a nearby village to acquire items for your inventory that are useful to the task at hand. It wouldn’t be a point-and-click adventure without inventory-based puzzles; just be aware that the solutions are tough and back-tracking through locations while tearing your hair out is a possible occurrence. Some of the ideas are great though, with crazy things like ensuring a tub of mayo goes off so Lilli can get ill from eating it or convincing a barman to make a cocktail to get her drunk enough to warrant being arrested. I doubt you’ll find solutions like that anywhere else!
Another aspect of the gameplay sees Lilli unlock various abilities to break the rules that have been imposed on her by Harvey’s hypnosis. To do this, you must help Lilli solve more conundrums inside surreal limbo environments that each relate to a specific rule. For example, to enable her to tell lies she needs to outwit a character into believing that lying is good, or to start fires she must set a talking snowman alight. These provide the most interesting segments in terms of visual design due to their generally bizarre nature.
Other than that, there are a handful of mini-games to add a new dimension to proceedings and put your brain power to the test. The types of tests you’ll face range from a Sudoku style game to a problem in which you must navigate a shaman through various routes to reach a totem. There’s also a complex and strategic chess-themed battle as well as a couple of puzzles that require a lot of logic to solve riddles. Most of them are damn difficult, however there is an option to skip if needed, which is a very welcome choice to have.
As for the visuals, and despite being a fair few years old, it holds up well and the character designs are greatly varied. The school is probably the only environment that suffers from a sense of blandness, which becomes highlighted more due to spending plenty of time roaming the halls and rooms. In the sound department, I adore the music bridging the gap between the story acts as it reminds me of that found in Daedalic’s Deponia adventures. Whilst the voiceovers do a more than decent job to convey the quirky personalities within, the sound quality is a minor drawback and one of very few times the game shows its age.
Overall, Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes on Xbox One just about manages to deliver a point-and-click experience which is funny and intriguing enough to warrant a look. It features a whole host of interestingly dark characters, a load of inventory-based puzzles and a selection of mini-games to add some diversity to proceedings. The solutions can be baffling though and often you’ll be spending large chunks of time simply trying to decipher what’s needed to progress. What doesn’t help matters either is how little of a connection is made with the main character, Lilli. As long as you have patience though and just want to laugh at the misery of these unfortunate souls, then Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes should be given a go.