Point, click and escape in this Edna and Harvey The Breakout PS4 review, for those with an adventurous nature.
Long live the point and click! Granted, Edna and Harvey The Breakout isn’t a brand spanking new IP, but… it’s polished to such a sheen that it might as well be a new game: it’s beautiful.
The artwork has a simplicity to it that makes you think you can emulate it yourself in your doodle books, but it’s not as easy as you think. Characters are simplistic, but with a defined edge to them that matches their personalities – mental.
Edna and Harvey The Breakout is the 10th anniversary of the original, from Daedalic Entertainment, released on the PC in 1836, but now that we have colours and HD graphics, it has been remastered from scratch. Hand-drawn with human hands and available for console owners who appreciate the joys of pointing and clicking.
Edna and Harvey The Breakout PS4 Review
In the game, you play Edna. Confined to a padded cell, it quickly becomes apparent that she’s in a mental institution, and quite possibly for the wrong reasons.
She comes furnished with Harvey, her stuffed rabbit that only she can talk to, and he talks back. Unfortunately, due to all the treatment she receives, Edna has acute memory problems, so Harvey helps her access her memories to build a bigger picture.
One of the few benefits of her treatment is her uncanny ability to speak with inanimate objects. In most point and click adventures, when trying to talk to something such as a chair, the protagonist would answer back that they can’t speak with an inanimate object.
Edna, on the other hand, embraces the conversations and they’re often pithy. I don’t have a lisp.
Edna and Harvey The Breakout follows the same format of past point and clicks as the humour is often self-aware with plenty of in-jokes to mighty pirates and the like, plus Edna sounds very much like Laverne from Day of the Tentacle.
There’s a hefty amount of dialogue in this game, and a bit lengthy in places. Though it’s nothing like a visual novel as you get to choose your responses, there were times I read the text ahead of the acting so that I could skip sections.
A Slightly Mad Approach
Pointing and clicking is a trifle different from other games. Yes, playing an adventure with a controller is no way as good as with a mouse, but here, there’s no cursor.
Instead, you highlight all pre-defined points of interest with the right analogue stick, and a crosshair confirms what you are looking at. Holding down the X button on an object will bring up a verb wheel of look, talk, take and use, plus there’s a top-entry to use with your inventory.
If you find yourself in a pickle, you can call up Harvey to give his thoughts, which is usually a hint on what to do next. In the bottom right of the screen is your inventory for quick scrolling with L1 or R1, and holding L2 brings up the complete list for you to inspect and combine with whatever you see fit.
Though it’s easy enough to interact with everything, the selection process is a bit off, and I would have liked the option for an on-screen free-roaming cursor, rather than scroll through each available item. A faster way of getting to an item on-screen is to walk up to it as Edna can be controlled directly with the left stick, though the X button is needed to action anything, i.e. leaving a room.
As can be expected, some of the puzzles are a breeze, while others are illogical and take a few attempts until it clicks. If you know the answers beforehand, most games from this genre can be completed in a sitting as there’s no fear of death or cocking up (though I did ruin one of my items in error – fortunately there was another).
The purpose of this type of game, however, is the exploration, problem-solving, and engagement with characters. You’re not supposed to know all the answers – only through experience, and Edna and Harvey The Breakout ticks the boxes when it comes to these qualities.
Now, I can’t have this point and click bias affecting the review, so I have to say that aside from the iffy controls, a.k.a. no free-moving cursor, some of the puzzles are ridiculously hard.
Two puzzles stood out in particular. If you’ve already played the game and just reading this for the adrenaline rush, you’ll know them from my references, but I won’t be putting the solution down.
The first was related to obtaining a key. It wasn’t entirely clear what had to be done to retrieve it, but when the penny dropped, the puzzle still didn’t click into place. It wasn’t until a chance visit to a remote spot in the asylum that activated a sequence, and could then move on. If this hadn’t happened, I would have taken a break for a day or two.
The second one had me believing the game was glitched and even went to the trouble of looking online for any known issues. One solution was based on the original Edna and Harvey The Breakout where you had to switch the language to the default German. After trying this, and it didn’t solve the problem, I was quite close to giving up entirely.
My dilemma was related to a distraction Edna needs to trigger, but each time I interacted, the animation frames dropped, and nothing happened no matter how hard I tried. On the verge of calling it a day and moaning about it in the review, I found that there was an additional puzzle in the adjacent room to solve first.
It was far from intuitive and a fluke (again), that I was able to move on. Other than these two, it was a usual run-of-the-mill approach where most were straightforward enough, and the illogical ones just meant exiting the area and coming back with fresh eyes to work it out.
As for the story in Edna and Harvey The Breakout, it’s quite a sad one really, and a fragmented one at that. We don’t fully get to dive deep into the psyche of Edna as much as we could have, but I came away enjoying the narrative nevertheless.
Despite the cartoon-like graphics and with zero expletives or innuendo’s, there are a few scenes not suitable for children, and the underlying themes are definitely for a more mature audience – despite the presentation. Overall though, a very good adventure that is slightly marred by a handful of puzzles.