The point and click adventure genre is one that is fast making a bit of a comeback. Some might say it’s never gone away, but there have certainly been a whole bunch of new games using this beloved format rise up out of the indie scene in the last few years. Edna & Harvey: The Breakout is a game that was first released on PC in 2008, receiving high praise indeed. Now we have a new version of the game with a shiny visual upgrade and a new control system designed for console. How does it scrub up coming into this decade?
Edna & Harvey is a point and click adventure tale very much inspired by – and running the same format as – the LucasArts games like Monkey Island. The story, characters, and writing are where the game really excels and it never disappoints with its wacky, over the top world. You play the role of Edna, a young woman who wakes up in a padded cell in an insane asylum. She is partnered with her childhood toy and best friend Harvey – a blue rabbit. Edna can talk to Harvey and Harvey, magically, talks back as well. In fact, everything talks back to Edna including tables, extractor fans, and padded walls. Edna then goes on a mad journey to try and escape her cell and the asylum, travelling back to her home to find out the truth of why she is where she is. As you can imagine, the journey you go on is filled with some brilliantly strange characters and weird worlds, like an underground bar or railway laundry system. You even go back in time and explore Edna’s childhood, working out some skills to help you in the future.
The gameplay is very simple and will be extremely familiar to all who have played a point and click adventure before. In the original game, it was set up in a very classic way – along the bottom of the screen are a list of commands like “use” or “combine” that you can just drag your mouse onto and click. Here though with The Breakout – Anniversary Edition, the designers have attempted something a bit more radical; something fit for console. Sometimes it’s brilliant but at other times it’s frustrating to use.
How it works is that you get to a location on the screen and there are cursor points dotted around the area. Here you can move Edna (or Harvey in moments) towards these points and let them interact with them. For example, if you had an item on a table you have the choice of looking at that item, using it, talking to it, or taking it. You can interact with characters in the same way. And then you have your inventory. Here you have a list of the items you have collected, allowing you to scroll through them, highlighting certain ones to combine with others to make new items. The selected highlighted object can then be used with other items and characters in the room. It all works fine, but I have found that the selection of the actual items and characters is all a bit hit and miss. As always with this type of game, you always end up missing something.
Another criticism from me – which for others might be a bonus – is that the puzzles that we are tasked to solve in The Breakout can be very obtuse. Even though there are clues to what to find along the way, some of the solutions are hard to get your head around, leaving you gasping for a helping hand from that old friend the Internet. But as I said for the old school point and click fans, they will find this level of complexity music to their ears.
Edna & Harvey: The Breakout – Anniversary Edition’s visuals have had a major lick of paint since the original game in 2008. It ooks like a Nickelodeon cartoon with a bright colour palette and beautifully clean lines. The animation is spot on, creatively brilliant with some great characters, locations, and over the top visual storytelling. I’ll admit, I love this world and could happily spend many an hour in its universe.
The soundtrack also has that cartoony feel to it, one that works perfectly with the game’s visual tone. There are also some great effects and sound design throughout. The voice-over used is brilliant with superb characterisation, and extremely good performances from the lead roles of Edna and Harvey.
I’ve quite enjoyed spending time with this good old-fashioned point and clicker set in the mad world of Edna and Harvey. I like the cartoony style, the loony tunes, and the crazy universe that these characters inhabit. The visual change is nice and fresh too, and it has to be said that the gameplay is initially decent but the lack of a cursor to point at objects is annoying. You may also find that the puzzles are tricky to understand and solve, with much backtracking to be had throughout. Edna & Harvey: The Breakout – Anniversary Edition on Xbox One is a big old game, but if you wish to get your teeth into a world of eccentricity and the bizarre it should just suffice.