Edna & Harvey: Harvey's New Eyes|
I have to say that there are very few games on the market that I have played that have left me flabbergasted right up to the credits. The latest one to make that rather short list is Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes for PC. Released just in the midst of my favorite haunting season, Harvey’s New Eyes is far from what I expected from a title awarded as the “Youth Game of the Year” in Germany. But despite holding that distinction, Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is by far one of the coolest and most bizarre games that I’ve ever played in my years as a gamer.
For those out there like me, Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is the sequel to Edna & Harvey: The Breakout which released only in Germany when it first came out. This new tale features Lilli, a young girl, who lives at a convent with other children. She at first glance is the sweetest little child you can possibly imagine who seems to get all the worst jobs at this strictly ran church. As I completed each of her jobs in this indie point-and-click adventure, I got the distinct feeling that things were not as they seemed.
It wasn’t until the first censor potato thing showed up to paint the remains of a fellow student that I had inadvertently killed that I knew that Lilli was either completely oblivious to what’s happening around her or that she’s a stone cold deranged killer with an unknown agenda. Lilli does have a friend though at the school in the form of Edna, one of the titular characters, who seems to be sort of a big sister to her. Pretty much everyone else at the convent including its overseer Mother Superior Ignatz is hard on the young girl and calls her worthless. If that isn’t enough to drive a girl to instability then I don’t know what is.
One of the biggest things that drew me to Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes besides the wacked out, yet cleverly told story, is fact that this is an adventure title. I grew up with the PC adventure genre having played a lot of the best ones over the years so diving into the gameplay mechanics of Harvey’s New Eyes was a breeze. Completing the tasks forced up on you by Mother Superior and later tasks that you must complete to save your friend Edna are done through a series of puzzles. Harvey’s New Eyes takes a more old school approach to its puzzles with most of them revolving around using items found throughout the adventure. Finding most of the items such as a shovel to complete the simple task of digging up a flowerbed often required a little patience as you had to go through a large cleverly designed circle to get it.
Most of the puzzles in Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes are not that hard to solve overall though there was one that I found to be taxing as I’ve never been that good at them. The old man that I found sleeping suspended from a coat rack has you do a rather interesting grid based puzzle to jog his memory on how to complete another task you’re trying to solve. Since he has either lost his marbles or is as old as the grail quest, he has a hard time remembering things and needs a visual of representation of three basic pieces of information. The trick is to solve a puzzle using a process of elimination grid based on three clues that the old man gives you.
While this is the only puzzle that really gave me a bit of trouble the rest flowed almost too easily. I was too interested in the story than the puzzles themselves so this really was an afterthought. There are even a few puzzles that also downright defy all logic in the world like the one where you have to get a balloon with Edna’s face on it out of chandelier. I won’t spoil the surprise but it’s messed up. That however is what gives Harvey’s New Eyes a lot of its charm.
After getting through a decent chunk of the story, you are put through hypnotherapy and all your desires to do things like getting angry or playing with fire are blocked. You’ll then spend some time trying to break these blocks all the while trying to save Edna from Dr. Marcel. The trick is to use the altered stuffed rabbit Harvey, going into a trance and defeating the being that stopping you from your goals. One such trance moment has you going into a D&D fantasy event complete with a DM and everything. Your fellow adventurers are made up of mental patients and your job is to defeat an enemy force all the while trying to root out the cause of your inability to get angry.
One of the things that makes this such a unique title is that it’s done completely in a crisp High-Definition hand-drawn art style that looks like it was drawn by children. This choice in art-style not only harks back to the golden days of the adventure genre but sets the tone for this bizarre tale. The cartoony exterior blends perfectly with the darker story events even though you never actually see any of the deaths caused by Lilli’s actions. They always happen when you leave the area and you see the pink painted aftermath when you return to the area.
While you never see the event happen you can always hear what’s about to happen thanks to the use of sound effects appropriate for most of the circumstances. Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes has some pretty good music to set the tone including a brooding melody during the later moments and the almost soothing French inspired tune that also happens to be the theme song. But the best part of my journey through Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes had to be the dialogue. The story is largely told through a narrator that makes Lilli’s actions seem like nothing really happened and that she is just completing the tasks asked of her. There are even moments where he and another man break the 4th wall calling out aspects of gaming culture which is priceless. Most of the characters in Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes are actually voiced including two girls that are obsessed with anime heroines.
It’s easy to see why Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes has received the acclaim it’s earned overseas, and this is one title that I think definitely deserves that distinction. Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is full of twisted charm, a good story, rather easy though sometimes complex puzzles, great narration and a memorable cast. As far as this reviewer’s opinion goes Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is a must own title that has to be experienced to be believed.