Release date: 12/2002
Developer/publisher: Michael B. Clark
Can be purchased through homepage or at German online-shop gamepad.
A review by slydos 1st February 2002
"Harvest" is another adventure game from the blooming Independent developer scene, more exactly said, by Michael B. Clark, who developed this 1st-person-game with the help of the program Adventuremaker completely of his own. The game can be purchased both, through the developer's homepage and through German online-shop gamepad.
As often in 1st-person-games, we don't get to know very much about the identity of the person, whose role we take over and through whose eyes we watch the game. Our nameless hero makes an evening walk in the park with his dog Allibaster. The dog runs after an animal and disappears. We search for him and find the entrance to an underground complex. Someone has built here a well-equipped, enormous bunker and bit by bit we get information about the builder, his story and what is driving him. We advance into the psychological depths of a family tragedy, which is the headstone to a still bigger tragedy, concerning the entire population. The designer of the bunker has developed a machine, which can produce drinking water from rocks. But we find out, that such won water will finally poison humans. Retrieving Allibaster is thus not the only challenge in this game.
"Harvest" comes on one CD in a jewelcase. A brief English description is attached to that CD. The game don't has an autoinstall function, so that we must select the program installation file by ourselves. Then however the 400 MBs install themselves automatically and problem-free on the hard disk. We can select the screen resolution at the beginning and then arrive in the main menu. With "New Game", we first start in the park searching for the dog and can move in point&click manner. In the main menu we can likewise load saved games or exit the game. After we found the really well hidden entrance to the bunker, the short intro starts accompanied by excellent, exciting music. We finally land in an underground corridor and the game begins ...
"Harvest" is exclusively mouse-controlled. The cursor takes over different arrow shapes to indicate scene exits, which we can use by left-click. In the shape of a magnifying glass it lets us look at objects. With the hand-icon we can take up objects, which are then automatically stowed away in the inventory, or also lets us manipulate things. If we can use an inventory object, we see a crosshair. Normally all hotspots are clearly marked, there are however no additional on screen text descriptions. We must wait until an object rests in the inventory, to get a description of the item. A inventory button is always visible in the upper left screen corner. By simply driving the mouse over it, the inventory bar unfolds, which closes again if the mouse leaves this area. The inventory contains a magnifying glass from the start, to zoom objects in full screen mode. Inventory objects can be combined within the inventory. By drag&drop items are selected and used - both in the inventory and at the action screen.
At one point of the game some difficulties with the otherwise very simple handling occured: a large number of small pebbles can be taken up. With that the red inventory area becomes larger and larger that even a part of the necessary interactive area is covered and one cannot use the stones in the desired and for puzzle solution necessary spots. Here the size of the inventory should have better been limited.
With the right mouse button a Windows menu bar is switched on and off, to save, load or exit the game. Savegames are stored in a Windows window. Savegames are not limeted in naming or number. In addition savegames are not sorted alphabetical, but after time descending, so they can be found again easily. Handling and controls are simple and require no additional briefing or explanation.
The puzzles of "Harvest" are various and partly very imaginative. On the one hand we find object-/ inventory-based puzzles, on the other hand mechanical-logical Myst-style puzzles, a slider puzzle, coding and Memory-style puzzles and a maze. Solving the maze once is accaptable, but crossing it again and again makes no fun. Nearly all logically thought out puzzles - except the Memory-style riddle - have a reference somewhere in the game, sometimes at far away locations. Often documents point the correct direction, which you should note down better. The game is predominantly linear, leaves however in some places the sequence of the solution to the gamer. Michael B. Clark understood - with few exceptions - to integrate the puzzles into the quite interesting background story and also deviates the often used paths of finding keys/open doors. In "Harvest" one cannot die, there are no timed puzzles or action elements.
The graphics of "Harvest" consist nearly completely of static background screens, rarely animated In dia-show style one moves through hand drawn and roughly textured locations, which appear nonprofessionell - perspectives and proportions did not always succeed and details are often abstained from. Who is expecting the graphics class of "Dark Fall" or of the freeware adventures "Voodoo", will be disappointed.
Unobtrusive sound and music fit well, however sometimes repeat too often, depending on how long you need for a solution in a certain location, what can be a bit nerving. Speech is like everything else a self production, sometimes only partially understandable. With the ghost voice of the dead father distortion was used, making it really difficult to understand important tasks for gamers to whom English is not the mother-tongue. Unfortunately there are no sub-titles. Very nice the video sequences interspersed in the second half of the game, and the appearance of a real actor. Here actually suspense arises and the action gets a new turn.
The first work of Michael B. Clark is still far from perfection, especially regarding graphics and atmosphere. But we find here a quite psychologically thought out story with solid puzzles and simple handling. Since I, as said in earlier reviews, am no friend of labyrinths and used a walkthrough for that, I can only estimate the total play time with approx. 16 to 18 hours. "Harvest" is recommendable for 1st-person-fans, who don't attach much importance to graphics quality but particularly want to concentrate on tricky puzzles.
80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable 70% - 79% good game, recommendable 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable) 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only) 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
Minimal system requirements:
- Pentium 75 Mhz+
- 400 MB free disk space
- Windows XP
- P IV 1,6 GHz
- 512 MB RAM
- 16x DVD-ROM (Artec WRA-A40)
- nVidia GeForce 2MX400 64 MB graphic card
- Sound card DirectX-compatible