I've taken a look at the first iteration of the Edna & Harvey series and concluded that there's two main aspects that provide strength to the game. The first was the difficulty, which I believe has been sorely lacking in recent point and click games. Not many games have been able to make the player consider pulling out a pen and paper and recording every pixel and sprite that could be used as a clue. This was something I haven't done since I last played Sam and Max: Hit the Road. Running around the mental facility multiple times was made infuriating when confronted with the technical limitations the game had - yet that did not detract me from enjoying the challenge presented to me. Nothing was clearly pointed out, everything had to be deduced, and the colorful commentary from the two main heroes helped curb the growing irritation.
And with a clever use of writing, by tying the last sentence of the paragraph into the next subject, I'm able to make a clear transition to the second strength of Edna & Harvey: The Breakout. The art style is far from beautiful, but the designs and writing help cement each character and their personalities into the player's memory. The personalities of the asylum inmates you are trapped with only grow with the unusual way they're presented and drawn - as if you're looking at the world through a truly insane protagonist's eyes.
It isn't unusual to find brilliantly written characters and colorful personalities in a Daedalic game. I've been a fan of their writing and games ever since I was introduced to the Deponia series. I was prepared to enjoy another round with the characters of Edna and Harvey with a bang.
Which leads me to believe I set my expectations too high and not quite as surprised that I was utterly disappointed. But we can get to that later, first let's take a look at the actual game.
The very first thing players of the original Edna & Harvey will notice is that Edna and Harvey are missing throughout the majority of the game. It's something that's also immediately lampooned by the soothing voice of the narrator as he introduces player to the new protagonist: Lilli, the ideal angelic schoolgirl who is practically perfect in every way. Everything she does always turns horribly wrong for some strange reason. But who knows why, Lilli only wanted to help. She's not the one who made her classmate fall into the well, after all. Gravity did!
Throughout the first act the player encounters multiple puzzles at the same time and it isn't quite as difficult as the first game, but it's still extremely enjoyable. The characters are all fun and the story is simple enough (so far). Edna, while not the playable character, is without Harvey for some unexplained reason and spends most of her time being quite different from the character we know and love from the first game.
Instead of being proactive and finding solutions in the face of being caught, she hides in her bed and asks Lilli to do stuff for her. Then she bolts the moment she can, ditching her supposed friend Lilli on the fact that she "believes she can make it on her own." There's no real explanation as to why Edna is acting this way, but for myself I considered the lack of having Harvey by her side the reason. The main goal of the game, instead of performing a great feat such as escaping a mental asylum and finding out the truth of your past, is now searching for Edna while being handicapped.
The antagonist of the game is the same as the first, but this time there's no reason for his actions such as mourning the death of his son and blaming everything on Edna. It's plain and simple revenge and a rather cartoonish plan to enslave all children to listen to adults with the hypnotherapy with the customized Harvey doll that Dr. Marcel also inexplicably has.
After the first act, I've been questioning everything about the story from it's beginning to it's ending. Nothing made sense when lined up with the first game. In fact, the game lost me when other events made me question what's going on. I'm not going to spoil anything past the first act, but nothing is promptly explained and will leave the player to question everything even further. This isn't the good kind of questioning, either. It's questions that make the player doubt where the story is heading.
Harvey's New Eyes is the average point and click adventure, much like it's predecessor. But instead of using insanely difficult puzzles, this one utilized mini-games with an overabundance of clues. I would have loved to have continued using the old school pen and paper taking notes and figuring out the puzzles with only the barest of hints like I did in the first game.
In fact, I did start using a pen and paper for one particular puzzle that required the player to figure out the order of multiple items and fit them into multiple categories at once. When I had thought I had figured it out, I combined the items that would begin the puzzle-solving only to find that everything I had wrote down was meaningless. All the clues given were right up there in a cartoonish looking mini-game. It didn't feel like a puzzle. It felt as if it was just a distraction from the main plot. Despite these small distractions though, the game speedily rushes through the locations and make the player feel as if they're progressing with little effort.
For a game so heavily reliant on puzzle-solving it doesn't really make the puzzles more fun to solve. Or, at least, I didn't feel that way. Many other reviewers on Steam praised the game for it's straight-forward puzzles, but it just didn't jive with me. I don't really know why, but I'm probably witnessing a disconnect between people who grew up with point-and-click adventure games and people just starting to get into the genre. That's a topic for another time, though.
I beat Harvey's New Eyes at the beginning of this year. I recall ending the final night of 2014 thinking about the events of the game I just finished. I've been compiling my thoughts about it for the following weeks, and I still am not entirely sure how I feel about this game. I could go on for hours about why the plot doesn't make sense, how certain elements presented in the game contradict other parts in the game, and the ending.
Oh, man, the ending. A commenter from my review of the original game pointed out that the writer, Jan Müller-Michaelis (or Poki), in almost every game makes a sort of twist ending that changes the mood to an extremely heavy one. This kind of style worked for Deponia because I found it cemented the fact that pitiful Rufus will do the truly right thing despite being so close to his goal. It made Rufus a character that acts as deplorable and selfish as he wants, but that's shown to be a facade that disappears when he's faced with huge moral choices that could affect the people closest to him.
But this ending, oh man this ending is one that almost drastically makes the player not only question everything that happened in this game, but also the first game, and almost retcons major parts of the game. Like, a lot of the things done in the game are entirely pointless now and how could that have been this when this isn't that and it's really freakin' hard to talk about how much I don't like the ending without spoiling anything.
*sigh* I've been working on this review for more than a month and I can't exactly consider what I can come up with to be objective and impartial. It turns into a rant about what I expected the game to be, but I still have a duty to give credit to where credit is due. The art is far superior than the original and the fact that I can play this game at 1920x1080 resolution helps with that. The characters introduced, while one-dimensional and only serve a single function, are quirky and fun while they last.
The comedy is also top-notch and is probably the only aspect this game has that I found to be above average. In conclusion, Harvey's New Eyes isn't a superior game to the original in terms of puzzles and story, but it is still quite entertaining to last a day or so before the player thinks too heavily on the events in-game. Personally, I would recommend this game when it's on sale. I don't believe it's really worth the $19.99 tag, but I'm rather frugal so it could be just me.
Do you think this rant was on point? Or did I delve too often off-track and turn into a rather bitter person when it comes to unnecessary elements of the game? Do you think the author of this review needs to go outside and actually talk to a person for once in his life? Tell us down below in the comments!
The reviewer purchased and played this game on Steam. Harvey's New Eyes is also available on Amazon and GoG.
When examined closely the structure falls apart but overall it's rather bland point and click adventure game. Despite this there's good comedy value, but is not worth the price tag for laughs alone.(Review Policy)