Harvester. Now that's a bit of a strange name for a computer game, don't you think (unless it was a sort of farmer simulator), but the chaps at Merit Software, a Dallas based firm, seem to think otherwise. It just so happens that Harvest is the name of the small town that the game is centred around, and being from there yourself, a Harvester you be. The play on words here is that the other harvester is certainly not from your home town unless, that is, you happen to reside in or around Hades wi. Like I said, Harvest is your home town and you have lived there all your life, but here comes the crunch - you just cannot remember a damned thing!
It's one of those sweet little towns, much preferred by American sitcoms - you know what I mean. Your neighbours on one side are probably brat-features from the Wonder Years, and Michael J. Fox and the rest of the Family Ties crowd on the other side. Sickie, sickie, sickie. Dogs idly accompany paperboys on their rounds, Mr Normal across the road is washing his car and the local news reporter has just hung himself because the Women's Guild coffee morning just isn't really front-page news. Bleurgh!
Stepford Wives II
Well, you find out you are engaged to the girl next door, but when you call on her, you find she's just popped out. Well, some of her has - all but her skull and spinal cord are missing and no one seems to care! Everyone appears to be like one of the characters from the Stepford Wives, and seem to bow before some Masonic organisation called The Order of the Harvest Moon, which, incidentally, you've just received an invitation to join. Once you enter their Lodge you find yourself battling against some of the most vile and hideously deformed creatures you've ever laid eyes on, and I'm not talking about the Family Ties lot.
Harvester is one of a new breed of cd-rom games that seem to be emerging at the moment. What I mean is that, far from being just one thing, they just have to offer more. And a damn good thing too. First we saw Return to Zork with its totally stunning inbetweeny bits, and more recently Under a Killing Moon, taking the world of adventure games that one step further. By blending a rich mix of arcade action and traditional point-and-click adventure gaming, Harvester promises to be just as, if not more, interesting.
Real Digitised Actors?
"Once you enter the lodge," says Merit's Roddy McGinnis, "the action is much in the style of Mortal Combat." Real actors have again been digitised (doesn't that hurt?) into the game - no less than 116 of them at the last count! Interaction is on more of a drag-and-drop type interface than point and click, but nevertheless, the effect is much the same.
Creepy, spooky and atmospheric. Harvester is, at present, set for release on two CDs, hopefully by the end of the year.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
This is the game that caused Hquite a stir in gaming circles Habout two years ago. At that Mtime, it looked very advanced graphically, and it stood out as one of the few games to use photo-realistic imagery as opposed to computer generated artwork. That was then and this is now. We have moved on. We have been plagued with poxy interactive movies for quite some time now, and so Harvester doesn't have quite the impact it would have done if it had been released two years ago. In fact, compared to the latest crop of interactive movies. Harvester looks decidedly dated.
In some ways, however, Harvester's failure to be released on schedule has worked to the game's advantage. I can't remember the last time I played a 'traditional' adventure game with genuine puzzles and an engrossing plot. Despite the fact the game looks incredibly old-fashioned, I warmed to it immediately. It reminds me of games like Countdown (which to my mind is one of the best adventure games ever made) and Darkseed, the superb adventure which used HR Geiger's weird and wonderful artwork for its backdrops.
Perhaps the best thing about Harvester is the fact that it doesn't use endless video clips to make up for a lack of gameplay, unlike some games I could mention but won't (oh, alright then, Phantasmagoria was poo for exactly this reason). Harvester does have video clips in it, but they're used to link up important scenes and it works very well.
All this aside, if you're wondering whether Harvester will be your kind of game or not, it really depends on how strong your stomach is. If you thought Phantasmagoria was stomach-churning in places (and let's face it, it was), you're in for a shock when you see Harvester. Let me explain...
You've probably guessed by looking at the screenshots that Harvester doesn't pull any punches on the visual side of things. I was genuinely repulsed at some of the scenes in the later stages of the game. The first two-thirds of the game are fairly Uneventful as far as blood and gore is concerned, but when you get near the end, the whole thing goes pear-shaped, with yeuch-ola video scenes popping up almost everywhere you go. As I mentioned earlier, if you thought Phantasmagoria was a bit OTT, Harvester will probably have you puking up all over the shop, so consider yourself warned.
For the rest of you. Harvester is basically a horror movie starring you as Steve, a mixed-up young fellow who wakes up in the town of Harvester with a bad case of amnesia. He tries to explain to everyone that he hasn't a clue who or where he is, but nobody believes him. Everyone he comes across informs him that he "always was a bit of a kidder" which, understandably, pisses mffi off no end.
You spend the first Afof the game snooping around and generally trying to out what the hell's going on, and it doesn't take long before you -realise that something is seriously wrong in the town. For starters, any W unsuspecting wino that wanders into the town end dead; Also, there's a weird bloke panging around a lodge who keeps going on the Order of the Harvest Moon. And this undergroun of weirdos is the main focus for the whole game. You have to join this lot before you can get to the bottom of what's going on in the town. In order to do so you have to complete various tasks given to you by the weird bloke in the lodge, which eventually results in your initiation into the society. Matters are further complicated by, surprise surprise, the obligatory female.
Everyone you meet in the game tells you that you're meant to be getting married to someone called Stephanie. When you eventually meet her you discover that a) she has also lost her memory and has no clue who you are and b) she's been locked up in her bedroom, so a great bloody help she's going to be. I've played the game most of the way through and the silly cow is still stuck in her bedroom, so the only reason I can see for her being in the game is to provide the tacky video clips jarring our Steph in suspenders and . She does make a contribution to tnne extent by telling you how crap youjreexery time you carry out one of the spooky society's gruesome tasks. She also tells you someone's trying to her but I'm afraid she's out because at this stage rm trying out ways of killing her myself.
If you've been brought up on a staple diet of crap interactive movies that don't require you to do anything, ever, then you won't get very far in this game. On the other hand, if you remember classics like Countdown that offer a bit of a challenge and you're after more of the same, you can't go wrong with Harvester.