Game Review: Edna & Harvey: The Breakout – Anniversary Edition (Nintendo Switch)

Posted April 23, 2022 by Angie in Video Game Reviews / 0 Comments

About:

ESRB Rating: Teen (Blood, Violence, Language Crude Humor)
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Release Date: June 17, 2020
Single Player
Nintendo || Steam

Story:

When Edna & Harvey: The Breakout begins, Edna is in a padded cell with no memory on how she got there or why. She doesn’t even feel sick or crazy, which her sentient(?) stuffed rabbit, Harvey, confirms. From there, it’s up to you to guide Edna through her new surroundings and figure out how the heck to get out of the asylum, picking up lost memories along the way.

What unfolds is complete mayhem as Edna meets other patients and staff in the asylum, each playing a pivitol role in her escape. All with Harvey at her side providing help, comfort, and humor. Just be warned that this game does depict wrongful institutionalization, multiple deaths (with blood), a car accident, and child abuse. The ending is also very dark and disturbing.

There’s a lot of dialogue which slowly reveals the entire story. Some is complete nonsense, or at least seems so in the moment, but might be a clue for later. A lot of it is just plain funny, and there’s definitely some meta jokes in here, as the game is quite self aware.

Visuals:

Edna & Harvey: The Breakout is reminiscent of late ’90s and early ’00s cartoons. If you grew up with that, you will definitely appreciate the art style. In fact, it’s what initially caught my attention about this game. I’m a sucker for quirky looking games and this certainly fits the bill.

Despite the darker tone of the game, the visuals are bright and cheery. There is no lack for color, but it’s not overdone. Edna’s pink undies peeking out from her hospital gown are a good example of this. When the game does get dark, there’s still a vibrancy to it.

The only thing that bothers me about the visuals are the way mouths are animated when characters are speaking. They don’t even remotely match up. I don’t expect animated film levels of synching, but the movement of characters’ mouths are not in time with the voiced dialogue. I don’t know if that’s just the way it was animated (given the way the rest of the faces move), or if the fact that this was translated from German (quite a lengthy language) has more to do with it. Either way, it sticks out.

Sound Effects + Music:

Edna & Harvey: The Breakout is fully voice acted, and I really enjoyed all of the voices. They fit the characters and the tone really well.

The background music has a retro feel to it. Sometimes it reminded me of the Grindhouse movies. I’m not quite sure how to describe it, but that’s the general vibe I got from the music. There are several tracks that change depending on what location you’re at.

There’s also a full catalogue of addition sound effects. Nothing out of the ordinary despite the quirky nature of the narrative. But I must say it was very satisfying to squeeze the ketchup and mustard bottles.

Gameplay + Controls:

Edna & Harvey: The Breakout is a point-and-click adventure so most of the controls center around inventory management, not platforming. You do move Edna around the screen with the left joystick, since she has to be close enough to an item to interact with it.

There are markers on the screen which show items that can be interacted with. Once you select an item, you can then look at, talk to, take, or use it. You can also use items from your inventory on on-screen objects. These controls were easy enough to pick up on and get use to.

What took me longer to figure out was the inventory system. It’s easy enough to select items to use in each scene, but it took me longer to learn that you can also use items directly in the inventory. Then longer still to find out that items can be combined inside the inventory. I only learned this because I had gotten stuck and checked out a walkthrough.

The puzzles are a mixed bag in terms of difficulty. Most of the time, you’ll know what you need to do, but not exactly how to do it. This was my first point-and-click, so I wasn’t familiar with popular conventions. I know I took way too long on some sections, but I was learning as I went. But I started picking up on how things worked, and I was able to think through solutions better.

Some of the solutions are kind of bizarre. I’d never have figured them out, unless I sat there and used every single item on every single item and person until something clicked. And maybe not even then. Before I could get frustrated, I would just exhausted my ideas, then head online to read a couple of lines from a walkthrough to get me unstuck. I always ended up learning a new tactic that I then used in later puzzles.

I can’t say that I never got frustrated with Edna & Harvey: The Breakout, because I definitely did, especially early on when I was still figuring things out. I didn’t mind the back-and-forth nature of the game, because it makes perfect sense that you’d find items you need in different places than where you’d use them. But several of the solutions themselves don’t make sense.

One example was when a character tells Edna that the menu has been tampered with, so naturally I went to check out the posted menu. It was clear that I needed to rearrange the food items, but I had no idea which ones. I tried to think if anyone had mentioned any foods previously, but I couldn’t think of any. I didn’t want to just randomly swap items around, so I looked it up. It was completely random as far as I could tell. Some hints from previous dialogue would have been useful.

I wished for a bit more logic that I could actually come up with myself, not some random series of events that I had to look up. I didn’t want to rely on a walkthrough to get through the game, since the whole point is to solve the puzzles. It’s not like with a platformer, where you can look up what to do, but you’d still have to pull it off yourself. Maybe this one just isn’t beginner friendly?

There are times when you’ll temporarily leave the asylum, but not really. Certain objects will begin to trigger memories for Edna, but she’ll need Harvey’s help to get the full picture. He’ll “tempomorph” you into the past, where you’ll visit child-Edna and need to relearn some skill that she needs in the present in order to escape. I thought this was a really fun touch.

Replayability:

I don’t see a real point in playing Edna & Harvey: The Breakout more than once, but that’s just a feature of the genre, not a problem with the game. Once you know the solutions, there’s nothing left to do. Unless you just want to go through it again and have a smoother experience of the story, which is a fun one. It would probably be fun to revisit after some time has passed though just to get back into this zany world.

There are two endings, but you don’t need to play the game from the beginning to get both. I just reloaded a previous save and chose the other option to see both endings. The differences are extremely minor as there’s no more gameplay afterward, just the credits. It would have been nice to have at least one more scene following that decision to see how things are different. Seems like a missed opportunity.

You may need to play multiple times to get all of the achievements. I got half of them during my first playthrough simply by chance. Most of them are ones you get automatically just for making your way through the story, but one was for something optional. I didn’t know what any of them were before hand, so I think that’s pretty good. But it does show that there’s plenty to do if you take things slow and essentially click everything.

Overall:

Edna & Harvey: The Breakout was a fun yet maddening experience. If you’re already a fan of point-and-clicks, you’ll likely have a lot of fun working through this one. For me, it was quite hard in the beginning, since I didn’t really know what I was doing. And some of those asylum puzzles were completely random. But the second half of the game was pretty smooth. I felt proud when I figured out a puzzle and made it through without help.

The ending is completely bananas. I didn’t guess what was truly going on. It was abrupt, and I would have liked more, but the endings were fitting.

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