Defiance Defined – Edna and Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes For PC
This game was reviewed on PC
If you have ever wondered what really happens in the mind of a mentally deranged little girl, look no further. Daedalic Entertainment has created the second Edna and Harvey game, Harvey’s New Eyes. The story’s sickeningly sweet overtone betrays us because the game is actually very dark and twisted. If you enjoy shows like Happy Tree Friends and games like King’s Quest, Edna and Harvey is right up your alley. Set in a 2.5-Dimensional world, Harvey’s New Eyes invites us to immerse ourselves in a world where morality and logic are optional, and a ball of yarn can be the most powerful weapon in existence. The best way I can describe the humour in the game is a bright and cheery ball of morbidity, wrapped in a delightful web of wit and sarcasm.
Harvey’s New Eyes begins as many classic movies do – with the credits first. Be aware, it is four minutes and 23 seconds of credits before the opening scene begins. This is an un-skippable introduction, so get comfortable or go grab some snacks and beverages while you wait. For extremely impatient gamers, this will be painful to sit through; personally, it left me in a bad mood before the game even started. Although it follows the theme, the song that plays during the credits is very irritating. Blend bizarre music, credits you can’t skip, and a mysterious blue line running at the bottom of the screen until the last few seconds, and some of you may actually rage-quit over this—and you haven’t even started yet!
If you manage to hold on long enough you will see a cute little blonde girl, quietly raking leaves away on a cobblestone pathway. The narrator begins with a semi-detached rant about another story he wanted to tell you (but cannot since there are children watching), and introduces the adorable blonde as Lilli, the hero of the tale. Lilli lives in a convent, with her best friend in the whole world: Edna. If you played The Breakout, you will remember her as the main character. In this game however, she is Lilli’s best friend who is trying to escape the convent before the evil Dr. Marcel finds her and locks her away for good. Desperate to save Edna from a horrible fate, Lilli takes charge by removing any evidence that would let the doctor know Edna had been at the convent.
Eventually, Dr. Marcel and Mother Superior capture Lilli instead, hypnotizing her with a creepy blue bunny named Harvey. Harvey is determined to make Lilli follow the rules laid out for her by Dr. Marcel, which limits what you can do in the game. The Rule Restrictions laid out for Lilli are that you must not lie, play with fire, contradict adults, play with sharp objects, touch alcohol, be in dangerous places, lose control, or follow your own wishes. You cannot perform any action that contradicts these rules, or Harvey will show up and stop you. The only time you can get away with breaking these rules is if you beat Harvey at his own game and prove to him a specific restriction is an idiotic concept, and that it is okay to break a rule on occasion.
A major part of this game revolves around Harvey’s hypnosis, and you must enter into your sub-conscious to defeat him in your mind on multiple occasions to disprove his Rule Restrictions. To do this you must first put yourself into a trance with Harvey to get there. You can do this several different ways, but the most common is by using a ball of string to hypnotize our mischievous furry friend into a trance first. He in turn will put you into a trance, and you will enter your subconscious where you must defeat Harvey.
In your subconscious, you will make your way to Harvey who will be in a monster form, and must use situations that put ‘subconscious Harvey’ in danger so you can save him, and prove to him that breaking a specific rule is okay. Harvey then removes himself from that part of your subconscious, which allows you to unlock a Rule Restriction so you no longer have to follow it; however, keep in mind that you are only allowed to remove one of them at a time. As an example, if you have defeated Harvey a few times and are now able to lie, play with fire, and touch alcohol, you can only do one thing at a time. Bear in mind that you can only switch from one rule to another while you are conscious. If you have lying activated, you cannot play with fire until you switch which rule you can break via a menu on the bottom of the screen. If you suddenly need need fire to defeat harvey, you must exit your subconscious by drinking any coffee found around in your mind to wake yourself up so you can switch restrictions. It becomes increasingly evident that things are not going well for Lilli or Edna as the tone of the game continues down a dark path, eradicating all traces of happiness by the time you reach the end. Thankfully even in her darkest hour, Lilli has a cheerful narrator to remind you just how wonderful life is.
One thing you will quickly notice is that accidents seem to happen when Lilli is trying to achieve her goals. The game forces her to perform actions that seem innocent enough, but tend to result in another character’s untimely demise. An example would be when Lilli uses honey from a beehive by the well and brings it over to a tree at the other edge of the yard to get rid of the termites there. The termites follow the honey trail that Lilli accidentally left, making their way to an injured boy… and the rest is pure unpleasantness.
Although Lilli may be responsible for a lot of chaos and murder, her mind blocks out all of this information as if gnomes are going around painting over every crime scene. Oh wait, they do. Lilli is never present for the ‘accidents’, so if you do something that could result in an unfortunate casualty make sure to leave the scene. If an action you performed is in fact one that has resulted in a death, leaving the scene will trigger the event, and you will hear giant thuds or crashes in the background. The narrator will comment on the strange noises as well, solidifying the fact that you did indeed end someone’s life in the other room. Once this is done you can go back into the room (or general area) you recently left and see that there are gnomes painting over the spot where a person used to be, and you now can pick up that item you needed, or a new path will be unlocked so you can progress through the game.
Point-and-click is really the only way to describe the game controls. Everything you do relies on the left and right mouse buttons and occasionally the space bar. To move Lilli, enter a room, exit a room, use your inventory or to action anything, you will be using the left mouse button. The only uses for the right mouse button are to get a short description of an object in question, or to let go of items in your inventory. The space bar briefly shows you anything that Lilli can interact with and nothing more. There is no other button you’ll be using for this game, which leaves your left hand free for texting, drinking, or maybe even resting in a bag of potato chips.
The narrator gives you an option to use a tutorial at the start or to continue playing without it. If you do not have a lot of experience with point-and-click adventure games, I recommend you do use this tutorial. I found the hardest part of the game to be the first few scenes in Chapter 1 while you get used to the mechanics. The tutorial itself does not give an explanation beyond the basic actions, and little tips such as leaving a room to trigger an event, or that a balloon is as strong as steel in this game are left out, which can really get your blood boiling.
There is also a tone of defiance in the basic nature of the game you will have to adjust to or you will not be able to move forward. Your first mission is to dig up the garden and then get rid of the termites in the trees. Mother Superior makes it very clear to Lilli to do it in that specific order, but she actually has to do it the other way around. This kind of misguided advice can leave you feeling completely lost until you get into the habit of purposely going against what anybody else says.
Another baffling contradiction would be that some of the rules do not always apply. This does not help with the consistency and can leave players scratching their heads. An example of this: You shouldn’t be able to lie to someone while placing your head in a fire, as it contradicts two rules and you can only contradict one. It would be fine if later, (when you returned to place your head in the exact same fire) you didn’t then have to switch your restriction to playing with fire, because the dialog that follows doesn’t call for a restriction lift on lying.
There is also an option to skip some of the major puzzles; the game then fills out the information for you and completes the puzzle. This is mainly for large logic puzzles, but it feels almost like cheating; it also leaves the players even more confused than when they entered into the quest. There is a lot of information gathering required to complete these puzzles, and if you let the game solve it for you, you can miss important facts that assist in completing your next task. This can leave you completely in the dark about where to go next, and there is no way to start the puzzle over once completed, or get information on how the answer was obtained, so it is up to the player to try to figure out what your next objective is. All the other objectives (no matter how obscure the task) must be figured out with only brief clues from the people and objects in your environment, but when it comes to basic tables you need to fill out, the game lets you auto-complete it. If the game instead had a hints option, or left out the option to get help on the bigger puzzles altogether, the gaming experience would be more consistent.
Everybody loves being reminded how imagination doesn’t have to be elaborate in order to be fun. With game developers spending millions on realistic graphics, a game like Harvey’s New Eyes is a refreshing change. The entire layout feels like a cardboard cut-out, and the colour contrast used scene by scene drastically changes the tone. You can actually see the bushes in the foreground and Lilli moving around them as if they were cut out and glued on, and the sun or moon moves across the sky as if someone is throwing a beach ball over a painted backdrop. Most characters don’t move, and remain where they are placed, only nodding or slightly moving their arms. You almost feel as if you are in a storybook being read to kindergarteners. The main theme music, however, is repetitive and is used in almost every instance of the game. This effect may cause the song to get stuck in your head and push the limits of your own sanity (though I’ll admit that may be the point).
The dialog and voice acting are arguably the best features in this game. Each character defines themselves by their voices, exaggerating their inflections and reactions to everything that happens around them. The dialog matches perfectly with the entire tone of the game, creating an upbeat, fun-loving attitude pasted over a dark, sarcastic, and twisted theme. For example, the narrator is quick to make joyful remarks like “Lilli was so happy to see her two friends getting along so well! It was such a rare occasion!” while she helps an owl attack a gerbil, condemning it to its death. The voice actors inject embellishments in all the right places to create a more surreal experience for the player. The characters’ audible and visual representations help take us back to childhood cartoons when the world was fun and fancy-free — that’s why it is so disturbing when you realize what is really going on.
Underage drinking, cigar smoking, and creepy psychotics aplenty, this game will leave you with a range of emotions, though I can only guess which ones. It is so abstract and unique that it is hard to tell how each individual will feel about the game overall. The humour is really the most fundamental presence, deeply rooted into everything you see and do. If you do not have a morbid sense of humour, this game will not be entertaining in the least; but if you are slightly morbid, pick it up and give it a play. You never know what kind of mischief you could get up to!
Final score: 3.75/5.0
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