Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Platform: PC (Steam)
Release Date: October 16, 2012
ESRB: N/A (Teen suggested)
What is it that people want out of an adventure game these days? It still seems that, despite technical advances, people just want a good story. Although there have definitely been hits and misses over the years, it seems that one series deserves much more attention.
This series is Edna & Harvey, which just released the second game in its series: Harveyâ€™s New Eyes. Although the original came out on PC here, it wasn't widely loved. Experiencing this newest entry though really makes it seem that this is an adventure game that more people should be playing.
As soon as you begin Harveyâ€™s New Eyes it seems like a very simple, silly game. It introduces you to a young girl named Lilli living at a convent school. She is, by the narratorâ€™s suggestion, the most virtuous girl in the world. As you start playing, a fourth wall-breaking tutorial begins and seems to hold the playerâ€™s hand a lot. At the start, it seems like this game may be made for children. In fact, many sites who covered this game simply stated it to be an adventure game for kids. If you can make it past the very beginning though youâ€™ll quickly realize this is the worst assessment possible.
This is not a game for children but for people with a taste for dark humor. As you investigate puzzles and talk to others you quickly realize that there is a lot lurking beneath the cute veneer. Although the narrator says things like heâ€™s speaking with a child, the words that come out of his mouth are usually tinged with disturbing ideas. The juxtaposition between the supposedly simple world of Lilli and the things she does is hilarious, although quite creepy upon reflection. Such writing isnâ€™t really common for adventure games which is why it was so surprising to experience.
Although the game was originally in German, Daedalic learned something after the original game. The first of the series, Edna & Harvey: The Breakout, garnered many low scores due to sloppy translation. On the other hand, Harveyâ€™s New Eyes has such good writing that it feels like English was its native language. There are a few spelling issues here and there, but for the most part it sounds perfectly natural and voice actors also seem to be fluent speakers.
Each character is weirdly compelling, but none so much as Lilli herself who never actually says a word. She is so odd because she only ever makes meek little sounds. Her voice actor is probably the most annoying, which is a shame, because she barely even has to say anything to be a bother. How do you interact through Lilli if she doesnâ€™t talk? The game gives you options for dialogue but as soon as she makes a tiny sound, the conversation partner will tend to just talk at Lilli. In comparison to the developerâ€™s other adventure series, Deponia, this is a bonus. Having a character who barely talks may be better than having one who talks too much and is a huge jerk.
As for the puzzles, they are at a pretty good difficulty level. At the start you will rarely be stuck wondering what to do because characters will slyly mention solutions. This not only makes it easy for regular players but also for those who are new to adventure games. As you make it into later chapters puzzles then start to ramp up, but still not too much. Thankfully the logic rarely tries to force you to do something truly outlandish. There are also minigames which take logic to solve. They are pretty neat and varied, although there is at least one which is a bit more trouble than its worth.
There is even a sort of meta-puzzle which gets kicked off in the second half of the game. From then on, your character is set up with a series of blocks to her actions. Itâ€™s weird at the start, because it means that you cannot perform various things which will be necessary to solve puzzles. However, the way the game allows you to unlock them is creative and a lot of fun. It also brings up a whole slew of new, strange locations to explore.
For all the greatness the story has to offer, the same cannot be said for the visuals. Itâ€™s obvious that there was an attempt to make some sort of distinct style, but it fails more than anything else. Aside from Lilli, characters hardly look attractive (in any sense of the word). Even beyond her design, the plain art style just seems sloppy. In cutscenes you can see the weird, wiggly outlines of characters. Overall it seems rushed rather than stylistic. This is such a shame because the game is so compelling but it just isnâ€™t that great to look at.
Visuals are rarely the reason to love or hate a game. Even with the unfortunate look of the game it rarely detracts from the experience. The overall storytelling experience with Harveyâ€™s New Eyes is so fun (in a creepy way) that you canâ€™t help but enjoy it. The adventure is mostly easy to clear and under ten hours. If youâ€™re looking for an interesting story to be had with an adventure game then this is definitely the game that should be next on your list.
+ Script full of dark humor which is rare for games
+ Flow of puzzles is mostly logical
+ Meta-puzzles add new layer as an adventure game
- Visuals seem to have been done quickly and look sloppy
- Lilliâ€™s sound effects are more annoying than characters who actually talk a lot
Overall Score: 8.5 (Out of 10)
Edna & Harvey: Harveyâ€™s New Eyes is an adventure game with such a sinister sense of humor that it deserves more attention.