I missed the first chapter of the Edna & Harvey saga (Edna & Harvey: The Breakout) so apologies in advance to any fans where I’ve missed vital plot points/background info. That said Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is completely playable and enjoyable with an utter ignorance of the original. You play as Lilli, a young, quiet and possibly psychopathic girl who befriends the titular Edna in her convent boarding school. I’ve only cleared the first third of this thoroughly entertaining game due to a complete melt-down of my computer system but I suspect Edna could be a fragment of a shattered mind and the Matilda-esque initial setting of the game is a mere diving board for a much weirder, wilder, and darker adventure game.
Although adventure games have had a much publicized decline in the English speaking gaming world, it seems much of Europe never received the memo and have been happily churning out adventure games almost non-stop. Some of these receive a translation and a release into the English market, others don’t. The original Edna & Harvey got a translation but apparently a rather rough one. I can safely say that Harvey’s New Eyes has a quality translation and some lovely English voice acting. The game is a pleasure to play with the deceptively sanguine narrator guiding the player through Lilli’s boarding school existence. It all seems cutesy and calm enough, that is until your murder your first classmate.
I’m sorry for giving that away. It is a spoiler but I think it may be one that is necessary to give away so people realize that the cute child like presentation of Harvey’s New Eyes is a disguise for the dark, twisted story hidden underneath. I can’t properly articulate the delight and surprise I received when I absent mindedly set Lilli to work murdering one of her classmates. It was something I was completely unprepared for as I had read next to nothing about the game before starting to play. The narration, the mumbles of Lilli as she is bullied by her soon to be victim and the interplay of seemingly mindless adventure game-isms all worked towards creating a twist that hit me as hard as the “golf-club would you kindly” scene in Bioshock. And this was within the first 15 minutes of the game.
From then on the game has a great way of using the regular adventure game esoteric way of combining objects to systematically murder the rest of your classmates. Lilli is like a pint sized agent 47 using creative ways to take people out without any one suspecting her. The great thing about the way this all happens is that Lilli is seemingly unaware of her actions, much like the gamer who combines random items in adventure games to progress. The narrator is always justifying Lilli’s actions so she never feels sinister and it toes a great line between blissful innocence in ignorance and dark hints that Lilli knows exactly what she is doing.
So Harvey’s New Eyes is kind of sick but the black humor is very palatable, perhaps due to the Saturday morning cartoon-like presentation. The humor also ties in amazingly well with the adventure game mechanics. This is mostly due to the narrator who will explain away Lilli’s homicidal tendencies and actions whilst still sounding like someone reading a children’s book. Everything you do is ironically pointed out by the narrator, even down to Lilli misinterpreting Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” in her own weird way. Harvey’s New Eyes is constantly entertaining .
The wonderful thing about Harvey’s New Eyes is that the adventure game-isms never get in the way of the entertainment. I never once felt frustrated or annoyed at the game’s inner logic. This is greatly helped by allowing the player to press the space bar to highlight the objects that are interactive. If all adventure games did this I bet the genre would have had a better chance of staying in vogue. Characters also give you loose hints on what to do next just through general conversation, though they avoid being overt so you still feel clever when you work them out. Sure, the things you do and combine to progress really aren’t grounded in reality but the game has a great way of making it’s logic clear to the player. The game also lets you completely skip some of the more in depth logic puzzles if you’re not that way inclined.
To any one half way interested in adventure gaming, I really can’t recommend Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes enough. It’s a well done adventure game, and also constantly hilarious (depending on the blackness of your sense of humor). It was a lovely surprise for me and I can’t wait to play more of it to see just how weird things are going to get. Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is getting 4/5 murdered class mates.