October 30, 2020

Iron Harvest 1920+ sorry Jakub

Iron Harvest Cover image

Iron Harvest is about a lady sniper with a pet bear. That should be all you need to know to go and buy the game right now.

Oh what, you want to know more, OK well there are mechs. PET BEAR, MECHS, SNIPER. I wish I was in that production meeting.

 Iron-Harvest-Scout-Mech

Yuri: “Vlad, tell them your idea, the one from last night when we were drinking Vodka” (I don’t know why I have chosen these names, it is just a guess).

Vlad: “Last night, I, I don’t really remember much about that”

Yuri: “Sure you do, the RTS game about the sniper”

Vlad: “No I think we should carry on with the meeting about the standard game”

Studio Head “I want to hear about a game with a sniper” sips more vodka

Vlad: “Well there is a girl who is a crack shot and her homeland is invaded and..”

Yuri: “Get to the bit with the bear”

Studio Head: “Bear?”

Vlad: “Well, when she was hunting as a girl she shoots this bear and it turns out that the bear had a child and so she adopts it and now it helps her on missions against the enemy and its got this whole 20s Russian motherland vibe and then…”

Studio Head: “Enough of this, it sounds crazy”

One hour later and much more Vodka

Studio head: “Yes the bear thinks she’s her mother ‘hic’ and OH MY GOD YOU GUYS, WE SHOULD ADD MECHS”

So Iron Harvest is set in a Russia that never had a revolution. Tsar Nicolas II and his unkillable pal, Rasputin are still in power.

I say Russia but the place is actually called Polonia. I thought it was fictional but I looked at a world map from the 1920s and the word Polonia. Polonia refers to people from Poland living outside of it and I am pretty sure Poland was a part of the USSR so I hope that answers the question you had not asked.

While we are here in irrelevant fact world I looked up the historian’s Bobby Farrell, Marcia Barrett, Liz Mitchell and Maizie Williams who all agreed that Rasputin was the lover of Russias’ Queen and was, in fact, Russias’ greatest love machine.

1920s-alternate-history-game-with-mechs

So onto the gameplay and I am going to start, as always with the negatives. Firstly, Iron Harvest uses a cover mechanic akin to that of Company of Heros, but the map designers and gameplay designers must not have been speaking to each other because the maps do not fit with this style of gameplay.

What you get then, is an odd mix of attempted strategies that devolve into a simple matter of strength of numbers. More troops, more firepower, more win.

It’s frustrating and I think quite lazy in terms of game testing because its obvious from the first few campaign missions that the game simply doesn’t work as you would expect and is therefore not a strategic battle simulator but a rush to have more firepower, a bit like America.

Secondly, is this an RTS game or a movie about the struggle of our protagonist to take back control from the invading Rusviets?

 Iron-Harvest-Explosion

I wouldn’t mind as much if the story were engaging or the voice acting sub-par even but the voice acting is terrible and I wanted to skip through every part of it.

What frustrates me most about Iron Harvest is how good it should have been. Matches start out with you having to capture mines and pumps to harvest oil and iron (pronounced iRon in game-like iPad or iCantbelieveitsnotbutter) this means you have limited resources so must choose which points to capture and which units to begin producing, usually riflemen and engineers but as the match progresses you will be able to produce larger and more ferocious units so you can start to attack the enemy base or destroy their cover.

Great, but the issue is the same, the enemy units have a tendency to just march into the centre of your squad who will continue firing at the enemy behind the wall for example who they aren’t hitting, meanwhile, your troops are being slowly picked off by the enemy in the midst. During these moments a brave hero will emphatically declare “I will destroy everything they build”.

 I-wish-it-were-this-organised

The game is based in a world created by Polish artist Jakub Rozalski and whilst I haven’t looked at Howling at the Moon, any other 1920+ titles or in fact heard of them before playing this game, I am certain that in this instance, the book is better.

I am surprised by how well the game has been received, not by the press, they all lie and say everything is great because, you know, nepotism and stuff, but it has a mostly positive rating on Steam and has scored well on Metacritic so what am I missing?

Well it’s this, despite the bad planning, awful acting and terrible map design, its really good fun watching mechs battle, isn’t it?

I am not professing that I like this game, far from it, but if you can put aside the fact that the gameplay isn’t very strategic, that the acting is very well acted and just enjoy the spectacle of what you see on the screen then Iron Harvest is good fun.

I cannot forgive these things and more than that, I have even struggled to play this game I was so frustrated with its inept troop AI. I have not enjoyed it at all and I can only give you my honest opinion.

It is fun to have an army of mechs lay waste to the world around them. It is fun to see the world burn but I want more from a strategy game, I want some strategy.

I want to plan an attack an execute it, I want to engage a mech with certain troop types from cover and not just build as many of the same artillery gunners as possible to take out mechs as they approach. I want to put my troops into good positions and not have the enemy routinely walk into the centre of my men as if they don’t have weapons.

It’s not enough today to just make a game that looks nice or has a gimmick, you have to produce something for a savvy audience who are able to choose from a plethora of similar titles from as many stores as I have fingers.

In Summary

I think the fun for most will end sooner rather than later, the campaign is less than 30 hours if you include the slow and pointless cut scenes which leave us with the core game, and the core game just isn’t good enough in 2020.

And the least strategic strategy game award goes to
  • 26%
    Gameplay - 26%
  • 88%
    Graphics - 88%
  • 82%
    Sound - 82%
  • 10%
    Longevity - 10%
  • 10%
    Value - 10%
43.2%

Summary

I really didn’t like my time with Iron Harvest. Not even the mechs could make this fun for me.

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