Game Review: The Harvest (2013)

6.0

Story: 2
Playability / Fun Factor: 6
Control: 8
Art: 4
Music: 6
Replay Value: 4

At first, this title looked intriguing enough and it was something that (at least to my knowledge) hadn’t yet been tried in the dungeon crawler genre. Instead of wandering around endless stone corridors and lush landscapes with your trusty battle-axe in hand, this game actually placed you inside of a fully armored mechsuit on a planet in search of a weapon that could be used to cause great destruction. Your task is to shut down the core AI of AIM, but let’s be honest… who really cares about story in a dungeon crawler anyway? And as such, this plays very much like virtually every other dungeon crawling title out there, (Diablo, Champions Of Norrath, Dungeon Siege, Baldur’s Gate Dark Legacy, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Titan Quest exc.) so it contains a great deal of rinse and repeat.

But therein lies the problem. In the beginning, the game seems exciting enough as there are a variety of suits that you can choose from, each with their own separate play styles and looks. Additionally, you can also customize their color palettes as in Armored Core. Each suit has its own strengths and weaknesses, as well as suggested difficulty. It was my first run through, so I chose the novice suit “Scarab” which only used a gun as its primary weapon. As far as each suit goes, some of them are keen to melee attacks, while others use two handed weapons and so on. At any rate, I chose my suit and gave it a name as I ventured forth into the game.

On my first screen, It looks like I may have arrived on Mars. My first thought was “Well, that’s different. Maybe this could be fun.” Which is what I thought for oh… about the first couple of missions. And when I say missions, I mean that the game isn’t composed of several different missions; each with a unique area and enemy type. Nope. This game is composed of four large acts, with each checkpoint being more or less regarded as a mission. Yes, there are side quests here and there but it’s mainly just for more money, which you’ll end up having more than enough of if you’ve got the urge to kill everything in sight anyway. Which in a game of this type, I’m going to slaughter everything that moves in order to be a high enough level for the boss. But that’s RPG 101. And yes, you get 5 skill points to allocate for every level gained. Strength, Defense, Accuracy. It doesn’t matter what they call them in the game, that’s what they do. Of course, equipping different weapons and armor will entail certain boosts/bonuses to the character as you can expect. The shop is literally built right into the game screen, so that you can sell junk and hopefully have enough for the higher quality weaponry. And while not exactly amazingly artistic, the items you equip will affect the look of your mech as well. Sometimes you’ll get a nice drop, especially from the mid-bosses (who like to put up shields all the time) and main bosses, (who range from pushovers to annoyances) but it’s often rare that you’ll get anything of real value. The game also has an odd system, where more expensive items will elicit extra boosts in things that aren’t necessarily important. (Is a decrease in armor really worth a bit more agility?) I’m baffled by the ideas here to be honest, as it just makes you want to keep what you’ve gotten from enemies. There’s also no level cap for items. If you have enough money you can buy the best items right from the start.

The Harvest video game

Health consists of medkits and I had about 35 of them by the time I was close to the end, because I never found the need to use them. Your health bar fills up automatically, albeit at a slow pace – though you get little health packs from most enemies and that’ll rapidly fill your bar anyway. On higher difficulties this might change. But trust me, as there’s little need to roll through this on a higher difficulty level – it’s just not worth the trouble.

So what is really wrong with this game? Well, before I get to that; I want to talk about some things I do like. The game features an energy bar and its purpose is to control your booster dash and special move. Each mech has its own special attack which can be triggered by double clicking on your mech suit. Double clicking elsewhere enables the booster dash, which is helpful to get through some traps, especially through the security doors that appear right before the final battle. (Whoever invented those things was a fucking madman.) Also, you can find a capsule hidden in the stage that will allow a computer controlled mech to follow you. It doesn’t last for long though, but does help you get through some tougher areas of the game.

But now I’ll have to mention the bad parts of this game. First of all, it grows monotonous after about the second act. Once you get to the sewers, you realize that it’s not going to change and that you’ll be doing the same damn thing for the next few hours. The campaign itself is also short, but that’s alright because I wouldn’t want to play what becomes vanilla dungeon crawler with a paint-job for any longer than I have to. And as for enemies, you’ll get used to the same types after a while. There’s the small spider robots, the large spider robots, the suits that come after you and try to claw you to death, the turrets, the flying pods, the suits with guns, the suits with shields and guns. Not to mention the mid-bosses, which all look like giant spider demons (Doom) but are much more boring. The most they can do is to put up a damn shield when you get too close. Back away, fire, stomp if you need to – it’s usually dead by then. The bosses aren’t too much trouble either. They’re bigger, but not much of a threat. As a matter of fact, the only one I had trouble with was Kingu; because I didn’t know that I could destroy the homing lasers around him. Would’ve made that battle much easier. As for the final boss, it was a cakewalk. I was armed to the teeth, full of medkits and money (it costs 2,000 or so to revive) not to mention having the best equipment I could have at level 20; and I wasted it. Utterly destroyed the thing. It wasn’t even that special looking. The most it could do was to send more enemies after you. But by then, you’ve already realized that the enemies won’t matter because once it’s dead, the enemies will die too. Literally, this thing was a rip-off. I expected something grander than that. When I killed it, it didn’t even seem like it mattered. The thing just kind of slumped over and died. I actually kind of felt bad for it, the poor fucker. Maybe the aliens weren’t so bad after all, just misunderstood.

At any rate, that’s The Harvest. It’s probably better if you play it online with a few friends, but I have limited net access and won’t be able to. There were some good ideas utilized in the game, but I just don’t know how something as interesting as making a dungeon crawler in space could go as terribly wrong as this one did. The game’s ending didn’t even make any sense so I didn’t even care. Just looked like the aliens went away leaving a blue Earth behind. Big deal. If this still sounds like something you’re interested in checking out, then wait until it’s on sale for about ten dollars or less and grab it.

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