Eurogamer Review: Edna & Harvey

By John Walker on February 2nd, 2011 at 11:23 am.

A wacky cast of seriously mentally ill people.

Back in 2008 it came to our attention that a German team, Daedalic, were planning a slew of new adventure titles. Of those, the environmentally themed A New Beginning has recently received it’s German demo, The Whispered World has been released and was flawed but charming, and finally there was Edna & Harvey: The Breakout. It’s out very soon, and my review has appeared on Eurogamer. For a taste, read on.

It’s another example of something that gets so many things right that all the clanging mistakes are all the more frustrating. But unlike The Whispered World, The Breakout doesn’t have that forgiveable charm. It’s a scratchy game, its student project roots showing through too clearly. But then it’s also packed with detail like nothing I’ve seen in forever. It outdoes even Time, Gentlemen Please for density of specifically written responses for using inventory items. (Although certainly not for successfully delivered comedy.) It is, if it’s not too backhanded a compliment, interesting. Which certainly makes it stand out in a grubby field. I say:

Edna Bricht Aus, as it was named in its original German form, manages to be at once entertaining and frustrating, funny and bemusing, well written and incoherent gobbledygook. At every point where I thought, “You know, this might actually be quite good,” five minutes later I was inevitably thinking, “This deserves to be torn apart by rabid wolves.”

For the rest of that, head over here.

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11 Comments »

  1. stahlwerk says:

    Why is a regular diamond-shaped kite referred to as a “dragon”?

    Because it’s “Drachen” in german. Yes, we are that me(n)tal.

    Its sad to see how german publishers continue to ignore the obvious thing to do and employ native speakers to localize for the different markets. Come on, your programmers might know some english, but they don’t know it by heart.

    • John Walker says:

      It’s even more sad here, since Daedalic didn’t make the same mistake with The Whispered World, where they hired Steve Ince to do a great job localising it.

    • ulix says:

      Just having someone who speaks decent English would almost be enough, and it would certainly be better than the situation is now. I wouldn’t have translated it like this, and I’m not a native English speaker…

    • Premium User Badge Oozo says:

      Not sure if it’s really a lackluster knowledge of the language. It seems more likely that, whoever translated it, was just handed a script in which the context was not clear. Lord knows that happens – a friend of mine wrote subtitles for some pretty high-caliber DVD-releases, and even there, she often had to work with bits and pieces of information (and no DVD of the actual movie).

      Heck, in the German subs of the cinematic print of “Scott Pilgrim”, there are scenes where the translator obviously didn’t know that “Flowers” is the family name of the main love-interest!

      But, yeah, unexcusable either way.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      I think I actually live near these folks (afaik, the Whispered World maker at least was 17 klicks away) and speak excellent english.

      Actually this whole area is full of americans as well, so I have no idea why they don’t just recruit some students with a bare minimum of talent.
      Infinite times better than the kind of garble you get in Men Of War.
      And I would have done excellent cheapo translating with sensible context as well.

      Alas, nobody asked me.

  2. Igor Hardy says:

    I played the original German version long ago and I couldn’t understand why is it so loved in Germany (and in Russia too from what I hear). I found it ugly, unfunny, tedious, and a good portion of its puzzles is very unfair, or even completely bonkers. The only thing the game has going for it, is the grotesque tone and the strangeness of some of the ideas – nevertheless they’re broken ideas drowned in endless tedium.

  3. Premium User Badge phlebas says:

    Shame – it sounded rather promising. Maybe worth a play at some later point with a price drop and a patch, though?
    Also a shame: falling into Old Man Murray’s fallacy of judging puzzles backwards by their solutions. The quality and enjoyment value of a puzzle lie as much in what the game does to point you toward the solution as in the solution itself. The game evidently has lots of responses to unnecessary or incorrect actions – are they all just jokes or (as the comment that the game understands the Lucasarts classics would suggest) are they often useful?

    • Acorino says:

      The comments can be useful, yes.

    • Bhazor says:

      “Also a shame: falling into Old Man Murray’s fallacy of judging puzzles backwards by their solutions”
      I hate it when people do that in reviews. The Longest Journey had a similar problem on release with complaints about the puzzles. That one puzzle about sprinkling pepper into a toilet cubicle to make a police detective sneeze out his glass eye was singled out in particular. The problem was that the puzzles though esoteric made sense in the game and were subtly hinted and built towards that when you solved them they made sense even if the individual steps out of context were pretty ridiculous.

    • Acorino says:

      Never judge an adventure by its walkthrough!

  4. Acorino says:

    Edna bricht aus is one of my favorite adventure games of all time.
    Or maybe it isn’t. I haven’t replayed it since the first time. Would it still hold up after the enthusiasm has waned just to play a good adventure game again?
    Who knows, but I know that the voice acting is a big part of its charm – in German. The actors for Edna & Harvey were together in the studio recording the lines, and you can hear that.
    I actually have a real Harvey close to me, in my room.

    I agree that some puzzles are insane (the Zen garden one? They even referenced it in TWW) and that it’s buggy (though I didn’t have as many problems as you did), and the writing quality isn’t exactly on a constantly high level, but overall, it’s great. Actually, I think I really should take this as an occassion and find out if I still love Edna bricht aus as much as I believe. But I’m sure of it.