Soundtrack: “People Are Strange” by The Doors
Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is, in many ways, a typical adventure game. You collect random items and use them in bizarre ways to complete weird tasks in order to progress through an increasingly peculiar story. If that’s your thing, then this is the game for you.
For the rest of us, though, it’s just not very good.
In HNE you play as Lilli, a young, seemingly perfect girl who is forced into menial labor by the Mother Superior at her convent and eternally picked on by the other members of it. The art depicting Lilli, Mother Superior, and others is simple and colorful, but ultimately generic. It never really goes beyond the cartoonishness seen in the opening minutes, and the animation is generally stilted and plain.
The gameplay too is plain, with genre tropes abounding. Every puzzle requires the bizarre adventure-game logic of yore, with few exceptions. The conversation system is flawed, and the interface is spartan, yet somehow still suffers from usability problems. It’s needlessly complicated in its application of using the items in your inventory.
Voice acting is generally bad, with the characters sounding like they’re being voiced by a handful of actors who do a poor job disguising their voices, but thankfully the soundtrack of the game shines. It’s quirky and fun, with an interesting amalgamation of genres peppering the adventure. There was great care given to the presentation in general, as the game has a general air of being slightly off-kilter.
If it seems like I don’t have much to say about HNE, it’s because I don’t. If there was a main theme this year when it comes to gaming, it has been the taking of basic gameplay designs and twisting them slightly. In the year of games such as Spelunky, Fez, Spec Ops: The Line, and others, it’s not enough to just release a genre game that plays the same as it would in the mid-90s. HNE has some interesting story ideas that I won’t spoil here, but it buries them below miles of basic adventure game design.
Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is a game stuck in the past, and this adherence to genre tropes hold it back from doing anything interesting. A few peripheral elements like the narrative and music shine somewhat, but as a whole this is an uninteresting game that doesn’t push the genre forward in any substantial way.
A copy of Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes was provided to us on the PC for the purposes of this review.