Edna Konrad wakes up in a padded room. She doesn’t remember how she got there — in fact, she doesn’t remember much of anything — but she knows that she is being wrongfully imprisoned. After all, she is completely sane — a fact to which her talking rag doll rabbit, Harvey, can attest. Harvey has another remarkable ability: When he is shown things that remind him of Edna’s childhood, he can “tempomorph” her into the past — or rather, her recollection of the past — where she not only finds out about her life before the stay at the asylum, but also (re-)learns abilities that help her escape from the asylum.This is the basic premise of Edna & Harvey: The Breakout (Edna bricht aus in the original German release), a 2008 low-budget Adventure Game (though it didn’t come out in the US and UK until 2011) that started life as a dissertation on the topic The Computer Game as a Non-Linear Narrative Form. Despite its 2D graphics and classic verb interface, it turned out to be a huge hit and won many awards.Had a spin-off titled Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes in 2011. It was released in English in 2012.
Tropes featured in this game include (spoilers ahoy!):
Author Avatar: One of the patients is a game designer who went crazy when he tried to make a classical point-and-click adventure in a matter of months with only a handful of co-workers, drawing more than one hundred backgrounds and all the animations while at the same time writing his dissertation.
Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The first release got no age restriction in Germany. The designer was rather unhappy about this, since it meant that the game frequently ended up on the kiddie game shelves, despite the fact that it's content and humor would be above the heads of most kids. For the Special Edition, developer's commentaries were recorded in which the developer swore a lot, said "fuck" a couple of times completely non-sequitur and names masturbating as an option to spend an afternoon. He succeeded: the Special Edition has an age 12 and above restriction.
Most infamously, a kite is called a “dragon.” This is because the German words for these things a similar (“Drache” and “Drachen,” respectively.) Why the translator thought the game features a dragon is anyone’s guess.
This error has been fixed for the special edition.
Similarly, a bench is labled as “bank.” (Both are called “Bank” in German.) Once again, there is no bank in the game.
This one is also the subject of an untranslatable pun in the original: if you tell Edna to "talk to" the bench, she says "I must speak with my bank!"
When Edna is asked by Aluman how she plans to get through the main gate, she can answer, “We’ll build a hot air balloon from styrofoam and just float out of here.” Aluman treats this as a perfectly reasonable and obvious solution, explains why it still won’t work, and concludes with (translated correctly from German): “You’ll have to come up with a less obvious solution.” However, this joke went right over the translator’s head, so he turned the phrase into into its exact opposite, “You’ll have to think of something less far-fetched,” thereby completely ruining the joke.
When Edna tells Mr. Frock (who thinks he is an article of clothing) that he has a strange name, he answers in the English version: “It is meant for a human.” This, of course, doesn’t make any sense. What he actually says is, “Maybe for a human.”
To name a few…
It’s particularly sad that some other translations (like French and Italian) are based on the flawed English one rather than the German original.
Brick Joke: The epilogue to one of the endings explains that, after breaking out, Hoti became a bank robber who turned himself in after accidentally shooting a bank teller. The epilogue of the other ending says that Moti returned to the asylum and was released shortly after because he no longer suffered from the delusion of being Hoti’s siamese twin. He accepted a job as a bank teller and was shot on his second day.
Chekhov's Boomerang: During the course of the game, you learn how to copy a key. An ability that comes in handy more than once.
Covers Always Lie: Edna doesn’t simply walk away from the asylum as is shown on the cover, and Dr. Marcel doesn’t simply stand behind her, ineffectively waving his arms.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: You can use everything with everything and even talk to inanimate objects (besides Harvey). The only way to do something that doesn't result in a custom response is finding a bug that allows you to do something that wasn’t meant to be possible. The default responses aren’t even voiced because they weren’t meant to be triggered.
The Great Repair: One of the many things you have to do in order to escape the asylum is repair a vehicle. And then you don’t even use it.
Gut Punch: While the game gets darker in both atmosphere and music after escaping the asylum, things are relatively fine until you make it to the church, where a priest that was just about to tell Edna the truth of her past gets murdered by the Keymaster, who then must be killed to escape.
I Can't Reach It: Played for Laughs. A copy of the master key with which Edna could easily leave the asylum is displayed in the arts and crafts room as an artwork, but she refuses to take it with her so as to not destroy the art.
Another example: One puzzle requires you to connect headphones to a tape deck and bring the other end to a person who is too far away from the tape deck for the wire to reach. Edna refuses to simply pick up the tape deck because “[i]t isn’t a Walkman.”
Missing Mom: Edna doesn’t seem to have a mother, a fact that is important to the plot but never brought up or explained.
Mood Whiplash: The game starts out as a light-hearted comedy about an eccentric girl trying to escape from an insane asylum and the oddball characters she meets there. Towards the end of the game, it suddenly gets a whole lot darker.
Panty Shot: When she's crawling through the vent, it's pretty hard to miss Edna's panties.
Pixel Hunt: Averted. Like in Simon the Sorcerer 1 and 2, you can highlight all the hotspots in a room by pressing the space bar. This didn’t stop certain game reviewers from complaining about pixel-hunting because they didn’t Read the Freaking Manual. They spin-off avoids this by mentioning the feature in the tutorial.
Power Born of Madness: At one point of the game, you can write onto the moon. Edna says she can do this because she is “completely gaga.”
In a dialogue with Harvey, Edna cites this as the reason she's capable of carrying so much stuff around with her.
Psychic Powers: Adrian, king of the recreation room, can see into the future ever since he was struck by lightning.
Psycho Psychologist: Doctor Marcel. Even before his son died he used ''therapy'' to cure children of their childishness. And after that? Well, besides erasing Edna's memory multiple times, he also killed an inmate that nearly escaped by breaking his legs and leaving him to starve in a padded room.
Red Herring: There are at least two things in the game that you can pick up, but are entirely useless.
Replacement Goldfish: In the Doctor Marcel ending, it's implied that he makes Edna into one to replace Alfred, as her new personality's name is Alfredine.
Sadistic Choice: The player is presented with one right at the end of the game.
Self-Made Orphan: Indirectly and unintentionally. Edna committed the murder for which her father took the blame and was subsequently sentenced to death. What happened to Edna’s mother is anyone’s guess.
Updated Re-release: An optimized special edition playable in both German and English and with 18 unlockable achievements and audio commentary has been released.
Wham Shot: What seems to be lightheaded gets really dark when after hearing a scream in the church, people assume that it was just a minor thing when it shows that when Edna climbs upward, she learns the hard way that the Keymaster is really a murderer by murdering the priest himself!
Another one also coincides when in the final flashback, as Alfred mocks Edna while snatching her toy, Harvey, Edna screams to release him and on par with Harvey's suggestion, pushes Alfred down the stairs and making Edna realize in horror that SHE killed Alfred.
What Could Have Been: One flashback and accompanying ability were cut from the final game: The graffito of Dr. Marcel in the basement was originally meant to remind Harvey of the time Edna learned to moonwalk — from Michael Jackson himself (who, apparently, was a talented graffiti artist, hence the connection). This ability would have been used later to sneak to Bladder’s van. However, since there was no way ensure the player finds the hotspot, this may have rendered the game potentially unwinnable, so it was scrapped.