Review: Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes
If you follow my reviews you may recall that I was particularly non-plussed with the characters in A New Beginning, another title from Daedalic Entertainment. Despite being on a mission to save the world they were venomous, illogical, boorish, and downright abusive to each other. I got a few hours into it before the cacophony of assholes wore me down, and I checked out of the game with great confidence that I had seen the worst characters the adventure genre had to offer. It was then, however, that Edna & Harvey poked their misshapen heads in and asked me to hold their beer.
Edna & Harvey follows the adventures of… Lilli, actually. She’s a weird-looking Q-tip of a girl locked away in a convent run by a raging misanthrope of a headmistress. The doofy announcer is more than happy to tell us all about how Lilli is the nicest, sweetest, bestest little girl in the world who just happens to be misunderstood by her cruel guardian, and by everyone else for that matter. And sure enough she’s practically mute and extremely accommodating in her interactions with the others residing at the convent, her dear friend Edna (there she is!) included. At least, she is at first.
You’re probably not here to listen to me ramble vaguely about the game, so let’s cut to the quick. I warn you that what follows are mild spoilers for part 1 of the game, but it’s very important you understand what you’re potentially getting into here. One of the first puzzles has you nearly drown a fellow child in a well and drop a beehive on him. Granted, he’s a bit of a dick leading up to this so I thought it was darkly funny, if a little mean. The last leg of the puzzle, however, has Lilli feed him to termites. They eat him offscreen, leaving a pile of viscera that some random-ass gnome comes and paints pink.
Within 15 minutes of starting the game, you murder one of the kids at the convent. It’s goofy and indirect, so I thought it was weird but not alarming. It got alarming when Lilli locked another kid in the basement boiler with a bomb. From there, part 1 is just a pure killing spree, crushing children under statues and planks, chucking them off cliffs, and driving them to suicide. I’m not kidding about that last one, you seriously ruin this girl’s rep with the headmistress and the last time you see her alive she’s bawling her eyes out, minutes before taking a swing from the rafters neck-first.
Like… what the FUCK is going on in this game? Who on God’s green Earth sits down and decides “Y’know what would be a fun game? Murdering children!”? Lilli’s massacre is obviously played for laughs, with the bizarre gnomes covering up the carnage with goopy pink paint and the narrator talking it all down as misunderstandings. The stupid fucking narrator is another brick in this twisted wall, playing up Lilli’s innocence and ignorance in one breath, then revealing her dark fantasies and murderous intent in the next. He’s an unreliable narrator not because he’s hiding some secret, but because whoever wrote his awful lines must have the attention span of a gerbil and kept ping-ponging the jokes all over the place.
I’ve dwelt plenty on the detestable plot beats of the game because seriously, fuck that filth, but the puzzles are really no better. The cartoonish airs of the aesthetic extend to the puzzle logic, requiring you to cut things with nails, unscrew things with hair clips, and at one point remove a bolt with a balloon. You’re going to spend a lot of time trying random things on other things just to keep up with the fever-dream reasoning, which is going to make the big setpiece puzzles that much worse. One of the first requires you to collect nine items from around the convent, talk to people about what emotions they represent, then listen to an old guy’s insane ramblings and create a logic matrix out of those items. It’s confusing, it’s laborious, and it’s boring, all things your core gameplay should never be.
Between the aggressively old-school puzzles and incredibly distasteful story, I can’t imagine who this game was made for. It’s the same problem I had with A New Beginning… maybe Daedalic is losing something in the translation from their mother tongue, but that can’t possibly account for playing bloody child murder for laughs. A more logical conclusion, now that I’ve played two of their games, is that Daedalic is a passable game company haunted by a psychotic writer who has no idea how humans relate or function. And that’s my charitable assumption, because I have rarely been so put off a game as I have here.