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Harvey & Edna: The Breakout

It was inevitable that I’d play (and 100%) this game. I loved Deponia and The Breakout (the prequel to this) was pretty good too. However, this disappointed me. A lot.

In this game is the distinct Daedalic charm; when you laugh at a joke in the tutorial, it bodes well. But the charm didn’t carry as far as it did in Deponia or even The Breakout. Maybe it’s because Lilli isn’t as interesting as Rufus and Edna are, maybe it’s because she never says a word, maybe it’s because the tone takes a hairpin turn at Dark Street. I’ll explain.

Previous Protagonists

Deponia and The Breakout (to be exact it’s Edna & Harvey: The Breakout, but I’ll just shorten that) have amazing protagonists. Rufus is consistently funny and engaging and is genuinely relatable, while Edna is just loony enough to keep attention. Lilli, on the other hand, never says a word.
Yeah, she emotes a bit with her grunts and gestures, but silent protagonists are fundamentally character-less. Her thoughts are narrated throughout by an amazingly voice-acted male voice, but as she never communicates anything to other characters, they come up with flimsier and flimsier ways to say ‘I know what you’re gonna say’. It was clever at first, but it wore thin.
This brings me onto another big flaw over Breakout… The voice acting is overall pretty bad. Breakout had one of the best performances I’ve ever heard for Edna, but even she comes across poorly in this sequel. All the other voices sound silly, faked or are generally hard to listen to. That’s pretty damning for a dialogue-heavy adventure game.

Then there’s the tone. Jesus. I read that this game comes across as child-friendly. This is barely adult-friendly. Just some of the events that take place which get passed off as background gags are horrific at BEST. I barely laughed throughout the second half of the game because the tone had dropped so dark that it didn’t feel right.  That’s all I’ll say.

Preposterous Puzzles

Another point I should stress is that the puzzles range between discount Sudoku and actually impossible. Seriously. There was a logic puzzle that could not be solved with the information they gave me. Even the walkthrough I had to follow to progress couldn’t explain HOW the information it gave was right; just that it was. And then another puzzle kept doing things different to how it said it did…but that one’s hard to explain, so I’ll just leave at that.

My issue with the achievements in this game may not be relevant to some people, but I thoroughly enjoy 100%ing Steam games. That said, this one was a chore. The non-story achieves are dull as anything; here’s a little comparison to Deponia (which came out before this)…
Deponia has you break physics by playing with electronics, meeting a past/future version of yourself and a special one for replaying the entire game with every word (spoken and written) replaced with Droggeljug.
Harvey’s New Eyes has you do a slow, drawn-out task 10 times, a different one 15 times, a different one 20+ times and one even 99 times. It has perhaps one or two references that don’t feel like a brutal slog, but the rest…
Again, that might not matter to some people, but it contributes to my conclusion:

Don’t-dalic

This doesn’t feel like a Daedalic game. This feels like a fan-made game based on a Daedalic game. The underlying sense of humour is definitely there, but the tone is too dark, the characters too flat and the story too…bad. I don’t want to spoil it, but it makes the previous game’s story feel like it was a waste of time and boils the ‘antagonist’ down to a generic evil plot. Complete with a maniacal laugh.
It could also be a cheap shot (and a heavily biased one given my great love of the Deponia art style), but the art in this game felt budget. Perhaps they were emulating the art from The Breakout (the first game done by the studio), but I didn’t like it.
Along with that there were numerous graphical glitches like the inventory not opening, the protagonist appearing in two places at once and the camera panning to the wrong place or just jumping about.

There were a few more bugs, but the bottom line is this didn’t feel like it was done by the same masters of adventure games that made the Deponia Trilogy. Play them instead as they’re some of the best of the genre. This is probably one of the worst. And that pains me to say.

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