[Review] Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes
Lilli is a sweet little girl stuck at the convent surrounded by a bunch of mean kids for peers and one nasty habit of a Nun as her headmistress. She dutifully and cheerfully goes about her daily tasks despite all this, seemingly oblivious to the bleak and oppressive environment in which she lives. Beneath the surface, this world reveals itself to be far more sinister than she could have imagined.
Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is the latest point-and-click adventure from Daedalic Entertainment, a melding of classic genre conventions with a story that veers into some incredibly dark and unexpected directions. It’s certainly a unique game in terms of its looks and subject matter, but then again games don’t just get evaluated for their originality. The question remains; is Edna & Harvey any good? Read on to find out.
Edna & Harvey is a game in three chapters, and each feels like a contained story in and of itself. This is a game that requires you to endure the early part before it really kicks into gear. On one hand, it tries to be helpful by offering a voluntary tutorial at the beginning, but it doesn’t maintain this help with, say, a hint system for when you get stuck. That’s not to say that the puzzles are particularly difficult, but it seems somewhat inconsistent; there is a tutorial and a ‘skip’ function (more on that below) for some puzzles, but the developer is saying “tough – figure it out” for the other parts of the game.
As a straight up adventure game, Edna & Harvey is pretty basic in terms of its environments and gameplay. Everything is hand drawn with rudimentary animations, but manages to be expressive in spite of it. Along with this, the game gives excellent feedback about what can and can’t be manipulated – pressing the space bar allows you to see those items and people.
Aside from the usual point-and-click gameplay mechanics, you start off limited in your actions by the rules which have been drilled into your head. These rules, personified by stuffed bunny dolls (…trust me, you’ll see), block your progress until you go into a trance and defeat them in what can only be described as a logic-based boss fight. These sections of the game are not particularly difficult, but are clever in terms of how they use logic to justify Lilli’s right to defy the rules. Of all the different kinds of puzzles in Edna & Harvey, these are easily the most enjoyable.
The same can’t be said for the periodic in-game puzzles which pop up from time to time; involving navigating a Shaman through a mountain pass or deciphering an old man’s memory using masks and fruit (?). Frankly I found them to be a little obtuse and I suspect the developer felt the same way since there’s a ‘skip’ button for each of them, allowing you to bypass them entirely and move on. While I fully concede that part of the problem might be my lack of intelligence towards solving them, these puzzles just come from out of nowhere and once you’ve done it, you never see that type again. All in all, it feels like it was shoehorned into the game at the last minute and really could have been better implemented. As it is, they are wholly unnecessary and kind of annoying.
One thing this game has going for it is a wickedly dark and knowing sense of humor. The narrator is definitely the star of this show, providing insight and just a dash of snark while you fumble around trying to figure out which item goes where. Besides him, the voice acting is serviceable but not stellar.
In the end, my big takeaway about Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is that it’s not particularly excellent in any specific area. It has a pretty good premise, pretty good voice acting, and pretty good puzzles. I found it to be quite funny and cleverly written, but that kind of winking ‘break the fourth wall’ humor admittedly isn’t for everyone. While this game eventually got its hooks into me and presented a twisty and neat story, it was a bit of a grind for the first few hours which (fair or not) is pretty thin ice for Without a doubt Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is not the best game — or even the best adventure game — I’ve played this year. Not only that, but Daedalic is bold for charging $20 for this when there are a lot of better games from this genre out there for half that. However, if you happen to come across this game when it’s on sale it’s worth a look for its subversively nasty charm.
[+Writing is funny] [+Option to skip tougher puzzles] [+Unique visual style] [-Takes a while to get going] [-Tough puzzles come out of nowhere] [-$20 is too much]