Review by FTG Contributor ghost_117.
Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is, for lack of a better term, different. Not the “Oh, you like nerdy things, so you are a little different” different. More like the “Junior, stay away from that boy with the headless cat for a pet” different. Yet because it is a point-and-click PC adventure, there is a sense of familiarity to the formula: quirky graphics, black humor, a cast of diverse characters, and a soundtrack that wants to be liked. In fact, the whole game wants to be liked, has been liked, won several awards in Europe, and is praised as a great game. Where those other reviewers see a great game, I don’t know, because it was a true slog for me.
Edna & Harvey, while having a previous entry in the series, follows the story of new character Lilli, a blonde-haired, virtuous little girl living in a convent school. While her relationships with the other children seem to be strained, nothing compares to the swift fury dealt upon her by the tyrannical Mother Superior. The only person who seems to care at all for little Lilli is Edna, a girl with a strange and dark side to her. But it soon becomes apparent that Mother Superior doesn’t want anyone to have fun in her school and soon has everyone taking mental tests at the hand of a lunatic child psychologist, and Edna wants no part of this. Lilli then agrees to help Edna escape and learns the secrets that she has been hiding, learning a few things about herself on the way too.
The first thing that needs to be pointed out in Edna & Harvey is the graphics. Hand-drawn and brought to life in HD, the character models and all the locales visited have a cartoony feel to them, but somewhere underneath, something isn’t quite right. This is most notably pointed out by one of the most strange and baffling things that I noticed: Lilli is a mass murderer. Now, you may wonder how a sweet little girl has the potential to kill people all the time. She doesn’t, but it’s the fact that things around her seem to go amiss for the other people she meets along the way and somehow all end up with gruesome and horrible deaths. What makes it that much stranger is that after a death, a gnome appears and begins to paint the scene in a brilliant shade of pink. Is this a way of detailing the scene, or is it a way that Lilli plays down the whole scene in her mind? The only way to find out is to keep playing and notice the weird things that happen.
Music seems to be Edna & Harvey’s forte, as the tried and true formula of point-and-click is rarely deviated from. Everything from blues to gothic to high-up tempo pop can be found in here, and the title track at the beginning gives you a good feel on how the music will go, as well as set a tone for the underlying themes of the game.
The gameplay boils down to standard PC adventure style, clicking on everything in sight. This is immediately apparent in the first puzzle to get into a cellar, where you need to get a key from a well. Even with the tiny tutorial you receive on how to use items and select different things from your inventory, it became very apparent that you will be clicking on everything on screen to see what will go with which item to cause a chain reaction and bring up a result that will either help you proceed or add another problem to the current one. It quickly becomes tedious and doesn’t get any more exciting. Granted, Edna & Harvey has a nice little shortcut: if you press the space bar, anything that can be interacted with is highlighted by a set of glowing red eyes (don’t they realize how creepy glowing red eyes are!?).
Edna & Harvey‘s puzzles are all pretty straight forward, and any seasoned point-and-click’er will have no problem tearing right through the whole thing, even with the boring mini-games. The problem is going to be if the player really feels like going through everything. Edna & Harvey just doesn’t do enough to make it stand out from other indie adventure games. A colorful palette of colors and goofy character design can only go so far, and when you go the point-and-click route of gaming, your puzzles need to be compelling enough to keep the player going on, as well as somewhat challenging, and not constantly retreading the map in hopes of finding that one little item you missed along the way and not be so boring or easy. This could be due to the fact that Telltale Games has spoiled us with refinements in the genre through games such as The Walking Dead and Back to the Future; Edna & Harvey feels a bit like a step back.
While old school adventure gamers may find Edna & Harvey right up their alley, most new school gamers may not. The lack of innovation in the formula cannot be saved by the strange black humor, fantastic soundtrack, or blond-haired little girl with a habit of inadvertently causing death and destruction.