Video Game / Edna & Harvey: The Breakout

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Edna: Is Dr. Marcel still after us?
Harvey: Who cares? Let’s burn something!
— The German cover

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!):

  • Adventure Game
  • Air-Vent Passageway: How Edna escapes the padded room.
  • Art Shift: The portraits in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue are drawn in a much more realistic style than the rest of the game.
  • Art-Style Dissonance
  • 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.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: One of the possible endings.
    • Or both of them, depending on how you interpret Harvey's character.
  • Birthday Hater: Peter hates his birthday, as it reminds him he's getting older.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Unfortunately, this game suffers quite a bit from this.
    • 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.”
    • It’s particularly sad that some other translations (like French and Italian) are based on the flawed English one rather than the German original.
  • Brain in a Jar: Bobo
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: Dr. Marcel wants to end childhood behavior for their own good.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Happens occasionally.
    • Edna describes a drawer to be "measuremade of finnish ebony with golden inlays". As Harvey states confused that it's dull beech, Edna remarks she just managed to impress the player.
    • At one point, Harvey using Harvey on a bridge will tell you what Item to use there. Edna gets mad at him for spoiling the player's fun and keeping them from pixel hunting.
    • When you try to combine "fork" with "lamp", Edna will try to think of a pun. As she realizes she can't find one, she turns to the player, saying he can call Poki if he finds a fitting joke.
    • Aluman says that one reason for his Offscreen Teleportation could be that Poki was too lazy to draw an animation for him.
  • 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.
  • Cardboard Prison: Zigzagged with the Asylum. On one hand, an average of three patients escape their cells per day. On another, none of them have so far made it past the walls surrounding the asylum.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Oh boy, and how. Starting out with an eccentric girl who's trying to break out the asylum with the help of her plush rabbit, meeting a lot of weirdos and making a thousand puns and jokes about every object she comes across, as the game progresses, it becomes clear that due to Edna's psychotic tendencies she killed her childhood friend Alfred. Her father took the blame and got executed for it while Edna from the early age of eight was held captive in the asylum, constantly exposed to Dr. Marcel's attempts to delete her personality.
  • 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.
  • Chick Magnet: Drogglejug, due to the informed attributes described below. Even Edna has a crush on him.
  • Companion Cube/Consulting Mister Puppet: Harvey, though the player can hear him talk.
  • 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.
  • Cuckoo Nest: The entire asylum, to no one's surprise.
  • Death by Falling Over: How Alfred and Dr. Marcel, should you go with Harvey's ending, die. However, neither case was accidental.
  • Developers' Foresight: 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.
  • Dialogue Tree
  • Downer Ending: The game has two endings. In one, Dr. Marcel, the head of the asylum, succeeds with his evil plan to erase Edna’s personality and replace it with a new one. In the other, Edna kills Dr. Marcel, after which it is implied that she died escaping from the police.
    • The sequel, however, establishes that Edna and Dr. Marcel both survived the first game, and Edna did manage to escape the asylum.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Peter.
  • Dummied Out: See here.
  • Fingerless Hands: Harvey has these whenever he moves.
  • Foreshadowing: In an optional object reaction, Edna can talk to a portrait of Sigmund Freud, recall a dream of hers and mention "kids falling from the stairs". In the game's climax she finds out that, at the age of eight, she pushed her childhood friend Alfred off the stairs.
  • Genki Girl: Petra.
  • 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.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: To save Edna, her father took the blame for killing Alfred and was sentenced to death.
  • 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.”
  • Imaginary Friend: Harvey, who is stated by himself to be a projection of Edna's subconscious.
  • Informed Attribute: Again, Played for Laughs. Drogglejug is described as a good-looking, well-read intellectual who is witty in conversation and seems rough on the outside, but is actually sensitive on the inside, when he is just some weird-looking guy who can only say his own name.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Averted with most asylum patients, but played straight with the Keymaster, who murdered the priest after being released.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: Tempomorphing, which sends Edna and Harvey to her memories.
  • The Killer in Me: Edna finds out that she committed the murder for which her father was executed.
  • The King Of Town: Adrian, king of the recreation room. He resides in a cushion castle and earned his title by winning a game of Yahtzee.
  • Kilroy Was Here: Edna can write "Edna was here" and some variations on many surfaces throughout the game, at one point even on the Moon.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero
  • Large Ham: King Adrian, particularly in the German version.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Averted with Harvey. Who is explicitly stated to be a projection of Edna's subconscious.
  • Mind Screw: Lampshaded in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue.
    “The player never figured out what hit him.”
  • 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.
  • Multiple Endings
  • Mustache Vandalism: You can do this to every picture of Dr. Marcel in the Asylum.
  • Neat Freak: Mr. Frock
  • Never Found the Body: Edna, in the Harvey ending.
    • Justified in that the sequel showed Edna being alive and well after she chose this ending and escaped the asylum.
  • The Noseless: Most characters.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Lamshaded by Aluman:
    Aluman: "Go head to the car. I’ll be waiting there."
    Edna: "You mean you will follow."
    Aluman: "No, I’m already there."
    Edna: "You’re also able to teleport?"
    Aluman: "Yes, it's either that… or Poki was too lazy to draw an animation."
  • Ontological Mystery
  • Panty Shot: When she's crawling through the vent, climbing a ladder, or simply walking away from the screen 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.
  • Pokémon Speak: Drogglejug
    • Except for one specific reaction you can elicit from him only if you bring him the right object.
    Drogglejug: "This object exceeds my comprehension."
    Edna: "What did you say?!"
    Drogglejug: "Drogglejug!"
  • 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.”
  • 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.
  • Self-Serving Memory: Not Edna herself, but when tempomorphing into her memories, Harvey can get wrong impression of events Edna did not directly observe, for example he saw Mattis killing children and serving Devil.
  • Shout-Out: Edna’s ragdoll rabbit is called Harvey.
    • Also, quite a few references to the Monkey Island series, including an implication that Guybrush Threepwood was a former patient of the hospital.
    • Multiple The Simpsons references. For instance, Beeman mentions his resentment of Bumblebee Man for giving men in bee suits a bad name.
    • At least three Star Wars and Star Trek references respectively.
    • Edna repeatedly says to closed doors: "Open Sesame!" Not that it helps, though.
    • With a pen found in the asylum, Edna can write onto every wall; while mostly she writes just her name or "Edna was here" she can indeed write onto the wall of her cell "Ken sent me".
    • Edna quotes from Lord of the Rings.
    • Oscar the Grouch makes an appearance.
    • Aluman gives one to Mr. Miyagi.
    • A room full of bent spoons reminds Edna of Uri Geller (an Israeli entertainer best known for his Spoon Bending performance).
    • Terry Pratchett apparently signed the foot of the man in the bee costume.
    • A bird bath gives rise to a shout out to Romeo and Juliet.
    • Edna can write onto the clinicum's wall: "Die Mauer muss weg!", which is German for "The Wall has to go!" and was 1989 a pretty common chant in the Peaceful Revolution that lead to the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
      • In the same context, if Edna uses her phone with the wall, she simulates a phone call with a demolition company, telling them she has a wall that needs to be teared down. They answer: "Sorry, we don't do walls anymore - not after that debacle back then in Berlin."
    • In an item reaction with the river, Edna says: "No time for fishing; after all we're not in Azeroth."
    • She can also comment a cross on the church's altar with "One cross each!"
    • As a book leads Edna to state that one day she wants to write an autobiography about her adventures, she suggests the title could be "Air Raid on the Cuckoo's Nest".
    • When inspecting the closet in Edna's room, she gives one to The Chronicles of Narnia. There once was a portal to another world in it, but she sealed it after burning down the Ice Queen's palace.
  • Siamese Twins: Hoti and Moti. However, they’re actually two men (with different skin colors) wearing one big sweater.
  • Stripperiffic: During the entire game, excepting flashbacks, Edna wears only a hospital gown and a very tight-fitting pair of panties.
  • Sudden Anatomy: Edna's (and some other characters') mouth only shows when she is talking.
  • Surprise Party: Petra has prepared one for Peter - on the toilet.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Lampshaded by Mr. Frock:
    “I have the […] feeling that time has slowed down while we were talking.”
    • This joke was sadly removed from the Special Edition, where the laundry lift can actually arrive somewhere in mid-conversation.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: After having escaped from the asylum, Edna tries to prove that her father did not kill Dr. Marcel’s son. And succeeds — by finding out that she did.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: While Edna’s amnesia is mostly laser-guided, one specific memory is suppressed due to a trauma.
  • Twist Ending
  • Updated Re-release: An optimized special edition playable in both German and English and with 18 unlockable achievements and audio commentary has been released.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Despite Edna and Alfred having been fighting basically all the time when they were kids, Edna remembers him fondly, speaking about him in a friendly voice even when she calls him an idiot or "frog-face". And with all the pranks she played on him, outletting her destructive tendencies by playing some borderline cruel games, Alfred never seems to have even considered to look for another friend.
    • Depending on how you interpret their relationship, might double as Puppy Love - after all, they have quite some Ship Tease as Alfred clearly is mad about the fact that Edna mentions him in her diary only in a derogatory manner while having a much better-working friendship with Harvey. Even Edna's father Mattis sees this, as he points out to Dr. Marcel that the two kids would make for a pretty couple and could have a future together.
  • 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.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Looking at a globe, Edna asks Harvey what country they live in, which is a very good question considering that it is a German-speaking country in which the death penalty is legal.
  • Widget Series: This is a Weird German Thing, after all.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Edna's hair is purple, and the Keymaster's hair is green.
  • You Wake Up in a Room

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