It seems that everyone at the convent has a problem with poor little Lilli. She comes across as such a quiet and sweet girl. The kind that would never think of firing a blunderbuss in close proximity to someone just to set off their anxiety…at least, not out of malice. Actually, the outside observer would say a gal like Lilli is always doing what she’s told or going out of her way to help a friend—even if that means using a chainsaw to get the job done. So why, no matter how hard she tries, is there always someone waiting to chastise or dream-crush her? Always a fellow student, the resident bully, or worse: Mother Superior herself. It’s enough to make someone do horrible, horrible things, maybe without realizing it.
And yes, before you ask, if you’re an adventure gamer you’ve probably heard of/played the previous game in the series, Edna & Harvey: The Breakout. And while Harvey’s New Eyes shares the same prefix, Lilly is the semi-silent star of the show this time around, perhaps to allow you to feel more responsible for the macabre actions taking place. I won’t spoil it completely, but you should expect lots of pink paint and potato gnomes. Yeah, stuff like that. Welcome aboard the USS Ridiculous.
Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is a good ol’ point-and-click adventure game, akin to Day of the Tentacle or Sam & Max, but armed with a twisted edge that drips dark humor. You guide young Lilli around the convent school grounds and beyond, interacting with the various flaw-flavored personalities who reside there. From an ancient grandpa-type hanging from a coat rack in a dusty antique room, to a psychopathic lunch lady who craves a sharp knife and opens jars as stress relief, a few chapters of the DSM-5 are represented one way or another. You must talk to each and every resident and use their clues if you hope to pass the next riddle roadblock.
The mechanics comprising Harvey’s New Eyes are nothing new as far as adventure games are concerned: scan everything with your cursor, looking for labeled items, follow every branch on every character’s conversation tree, and try to combine every item in your inventory should you fail to complete the two previous actions. There’s a significant difference that allows Edna & Harvey to stand out, though. The writing is good. Damn good. It’s witty, absurd in some (most) cases, and plenty solid enough to carry the rest of the game. Yes, there are flaws here, such as iffy voice work, some downright ridiculous puzzle solutions (yes, I said it—balloon wrench), half-assed animation (it’s 2012, people; add a couple more frames!), and music that, while quaint at the outset, forced me to start a bandeon hate club on Facebook.
And yet it’s super important to point out that, despite my gripes, the good really outweighs the bad here, especially if you’re an avid adventure gamer. Almost every part of the writing in Edna & Harvey kept me entertained, giggling and disturbed on one level or another. It’s like Lilli doesn’t know what kind of mess she’s leaving in her wake, or maybe all of those flawed personalities I spoke of earlier are the sane ones, leaving Lilli as the craziest of all. An angle such as that helps me overlook what seem more and more like petty flaws the more I think about it. No, don’t call Christopher Nolan or anything, it’s not Earth-shattering, but for point-and-clickers out there it certainly could be the next worthwhile step.
Everyone talks about “advancing the genre,” and Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes does it the only way that matters in this category of games—the writing. You can have eye-blending visuals, top-notch acting and other bells and whistles, but without a killer angle it just boils down to click everything, talk to everyone and combine everything until a magic answer falls out of the sky like a dead eagle. At the end of it all, Daedalic Entertainment did a good job using that absurd, darkened writing as the foundation for a solidly entertaining game. Not a great job, but enough at least to make me seek out and play the first one.
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
System requirements: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Win 7, 2 GHz single-core/1.8 GHz dual-core or better CPU, 256 MB OpenGL 2.0-compatible graphics card, 1.5 GB RAM (2 GB for Vista/Win 7), DirectX 9.0c-compatible sound device, 3.5 GB hard-drive space
Genre: Point-and-click adventure
ESRB rating: Not rated
Release date: Available now