What is it that you usually think of when reminiscing about the 90's? 1996, specifically. Popular television channels like MTV at the height of their success, Bradley Nowell of Sublime's death via Overdosing, And hip-hop becoming a staple of modern music. But sadly, nobody ever thinks of Harvester, A Point and Click adventure game from Virgin Interactive Entertainment. With an inventive, and unique script, disturbing characters, and some of the goriest violence ever seen in gaming, Harvester is one of the most critically underrated titles that I have ever, and most likely will ever play.
"Harvest.. Population 51. It's a nice little place, where the fields and the people are carved into pleasing shapes. The Lodge would like to remind you, gently and lovingly, of a self-evident fact for which they will not be blamed. You can't stay in Harvest... without becoming a Harvester."
"So I says to the gal, I says: There's no need to get bent outta shape! ahahaha!"
Like I previously mentioned, Harvester is a point and click adventure game, in the vein of other titles like Darkseed, and it's respective sequel. You awaken with amnesia as Steve Mason, a flannel shirt wearing guy, in the small town of Harvest, where the Max. Population consists of a mere 51 people. It's a typical 1950's scenario: Your mother is glued to the kitchen, constantly making cookies, and throwing them away. Your brother is stuck to the TV, wearing a cowboy hat and watching programs daily. Everything is swell and the world is all good, right? Wrong. It's immediately clear that something is off. The whole town feels very.. Stepford-esque and robotic. Not to mention, nobody can stop talking about "The Lodge," a mysterious building populated by the Order of the Harvest Moon. To make things worse? They're eager for you to join.
What follows is a journey through, and all over Harvest, on a quest for answers, and the truth. Harvester is a game that truly borders on the edge of the surreal and the demented, taking frequent trips between each, amidst the 8 or so hour experience.
I just want to get this out of the way right off the bat: Harvester is not pretty, and I don't mean that by a graphical standpoint either (The FMV corresponds well with the environments, and really works with the game's style.) Harvester is easily, one of the sickest, goriest, and darkest games that I have ever played. It's rare that I warn somebody about the contents of a game before they play the said game, but if you plan on playing Harvester, prepare to meet some grim, and otherwise gruesome imagery.
This is all aided by the unsavory cast of characters that Harvester brings to the table. You'll encounter a patriotic Colonel, who's only half the man he used to be (Literally, he's a talking Torso,) a schoolteacher who's idea of "Punishment" involves Molesting and assaulting kids with a baseball bat, a disgraceful sheriff who can't stop masterbating in a jail cell, and a principal, who wants nothing more than daily intercourse in the school's broom closet. Suffice to say, you'll be experiencing plenty of oddball characters, each possessing their own dirty little secret. The sicker and more demented ones are usually possessed by the people you would least expect.
But this leads me to the combat: My biggest gripe with Harvester. It just feels awkward and disjointed. Battles usually involve you swinging wildly, being knocked back a few inches by a hit every now and then, and repeating. There just isn't any sense of skill involved in the battles. It's more of an endurance challenge, if anything. But that isn't to say the weapons don't get the job done. Weapons ranging from a shotgun, to a scythe can be used when acquired by Steven. Each leave messy results, to say the least.
While the voice acting probably didn't win any awards, the music should definitely be commemorated. The music gives Harvester a very haunting, moody, and dreadful feel. Weapons ranging from pianos to drums are used to good taste, and certainly not overdone to the point where it feels repetitive and annoying. Here's just a sample of what is to be expected:
By all means, if you can stomach some truly gruesome imagery and salty language, this is a great point and click adventure for both newcomers and veterans alike. The puzzles are easy enough to make the game accessible to those who are unfamiliar with point and click adventure games, yet challenging enough to involve a few moments of thought. Likewise, the plot is fresh and eerie, with a concept that I have yet to see emulated in video games. If you're a fan of point and click adventure games, and can appreciate the wacky, and bizzare cast of characters, this is a title that no adventure aficionado should be without.
*Constructive criticism, as always, is warmly welcomed.*