I consider myself quite the fan of point-and-click adventures, but I never got around to playing Daedalic Entertainment’s debut release Edna & Harvey: The Breakout. It’s partly because I found myself more invested in consoles than playing on the PC back when it originally launched in 2008 and, admittedly, that hasn’t really changed much since then.
Now, twelve years on from its initial release, it has launched on the Nintendo Switch in the form of the ‘Anniversary Edition’ – bringing with it revamped visuals and a more intuitive control scheme that makes it easier for console gamers to play. I finally got around to playing it on my Switch and I’m glad I did, with Edna and Harvey’s anarchic adventure making for a fun romp throughout.
Edna & Harvey: The Breakout puts you in the role of Edna, a young purple-haired girl who wakes up in an insane asylum with amnesia. Typical, right? Well, Edna knows that she’s ‘sane’, especially since her best friend Harvey keeps telling her that she is. Did I mention that he’s a little plush bunny that she carries around? Yeah, maybe she is a little bit crazy…
Still, this doesn’t stop her from trying to break out, which sees Edna head on an adventure through the asylum, interact with her fellow ‘insane’ patients, and eventually get out of the grasp of the head honcho of the place Doctor Marcel. It’s a zany and quirky tale that certainly takes players through some bizarre scenarios – Edna can actually talk to the inanimate objects around her too, which is a great little feature when compared to the mundane observations we’ve heard from other point-and-click heroes about their surroundings. It all just makes for a fun time and it’s easy to find yourself wrapped up in the dark yet hilarious narrative.
If you’ve played a point-and-click adventure before, you’ll feel right at home with Edna & Harvey: The Breakout’s gameplay. The traditional style of puzzles based around your inventory and the environment is present, you’ll engage in plenty of weird yet charming conversations with the bizarre NPCs, and there are a vast array of environments to explore that’ll require a real keen eye if you want to see everything – yeah, pretty much all of the typical hallmarks of the genre are present here and Edna & Harvey: The Breakout doesn’t stray too far from the conventional as far as the gameplay is concerned. That’s not a complaint by any means, especially since the puzzles themselves are well-designed and the wacky nature of the world makes it one that’s really fun to be a part of.
However, whilst a lot of the gameplay mechanics feel similar to other point-and-click adventures, Edna & Harvey: The Breakout does adopt a new control scheme that is designed to be more accessible for console gamers. You can control Edna by moving her around with the left stick, with different markers that are placed around each environment then highlighting to show the player what they will interact with – you can also simply switch between these markers with the right stick if you prefer, which will see Edna automatically move to each point. When interacting with these markers, a radial menu opens up that allows you to choose between options such as ‘look’, ‘talk’, ‘take’, ‘use’ or ‘item’ in order to perform an assortment of tasks, which actually feels more streamlined to perform as opposed to manually selecting each option like a typical point-and-click adventure. The item menu is easily accessed with a button press too, with the selection or combining of items proving to be a quick and accessible process.
This control scheme naturally makes life easier for console gamers, with the lack of a mouse often making point-and-click adventures a little bit more awkward to play. However, it isn’t perfect and there were some flaws that I had to get used to when playing. For one, you’ve always got a bunch of intrusive markers over the screen, which don’t only feel out of place in the environment but also make it a little obvious as to what areas you’ve got to interact with. Maybe it’s the old-school gamer inside of me talking, but I like having to scour each and every detail of an environment to find that ONE hidden clue. Flicking between different markers could be a little bit finicky too and it’s disappointing that touch-screen controls weren’t utilised on the Nintendo Switch, which would have made the process a whole lot easier. Admittedly, these are minor complaints in the grand scheme of things, but they are noticeable nonetheless.
Edna & Harvey: The Breakout always delivers where it really matters though, with the aforementioned bizarre world and story keeping me hooked in and the constant puzzles really putting my brain to the test. Sure, some of the puzzles could be a little bit obtuse in places and would force me to embrace the age old ‘click everything and use everything’ trick to progress, but for the most part they’re all cleverly designed and satisfying to solve.
Edna & Harvey: The Breakout’s visuals have seen a real improvement over the game’s original release, with a cleaner lick of paint applied to just about everything. Environments have been touched up and look a lot more detailed and vibrant, the characters don’t look like they’ve come out of an old-school Newgrounds flash animation anymore, whilst the in-game animations are a lot sleeker and more fluid in design. Add to that some fantastic voicework for each of the characters and it all comes together to make for a really well-presented adventure.
Of course, I’m sure there are some gamers who would prefer to play in the old 2008 styling – fortunately, Edna & Harvey: The Breakout allows you to switch between the new and classic visuals on the fly, meaning you can experience the crazy escapade in its original glory if you prefer. It’s a nice touch and it really makes you appreciate just how good of a job the developers have done in revamping the game.
With its zany narrative, bizarrely intriguing world, and clever puzzle design, Edna & Harvey: The Breakout offers a thoroughly entertaining point-and-click escapade for Switch gamers to embark on. It does have a few flaws here and there, with the controls sometimes feeling a little finicky and the environmental markers often feeling intrusive, but they don’t really hamper what is otherwise a really fun experience.
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC