After a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2018, Iron Harvest finally gets a retail release. Was two years enough time to finish, or should you skip this one for a while? Check out our review and find out.
Iron Harvest Review
Iron Harvest begins with you playing a young girl named Anna Kos. Anna is having a snowball fight with some of the villagers, which acts as your basic tutorial for the game. You learn how to take cover, use height to your advantage, watch enemy sightlines, and attack. After the snowball fight, your brother comes along and teaches you how to shoot. You bag a buck and are attacked by a bear in the wilderness. Before the bear gets you, the Polanian Mechs step in to save you.
These Mechs are the latest army technology, and they are going off to fight with the Rusviet military. Your brother joins up with the Polanians, and you are left home with your father and the new bear cub you have adopted. Fast forward a few years, and the Rusivet military has won the conflict. The Rusviets invade your village while looking for a professor, and end up taking your father. They kill him and take his technology, leading you to join the resistance to fight the Rusviet foe.
Iron Harvest is level-based, meaning your army rarely comes with you from mission to mission. You will start with a certain amount of units or a base to build your own army. At first, the process is simple because you have so few unit types. As the game progresses, you need to pick and choose what soldiers are best for the mission. Machine Gunners are great for pinning down infantry, but a Mech will smoke them. Engineers can build sandbags for cover, but are terrible in combat. Mechs are pretty much great at everything…until they meet anti-armor Gunners. There is a counter to everything, meaning you can’t just spam the same units repeatedly.
When it comes to actual combat in Iron Harvest, the game requires a ton of micromanagement. Cover is how your infantry survives conflicts without losing many men. Generally, though, the enemy army is entrenched when you arrive. This means you need to build your own cover or flush them out of theirs. While the Engineers make sandbags, you position yourself for combat. When the battle begins, you will be switching between units to change positions, use their abilities or grenades, or pull them back. It means you have to watch multiple units simultaneously, and it can sometimes be overwhelming.
One big thing that I disliked about the game was how prone worked. You are much harder to hit when prone, but you are forced to crawl. The problem is, the game chooses when you go prone. It will generally happen when facing a mounted Machine Gunner or Bunker, which makes sense. However, you can’t unprone your men to run away, meaning they will crawl away from the threat as it just mows them down. Sometimes I prefer them to run even though they will get hit easier. As a result, this feels like a weird oversight.
Let’s talk about Mech combat real quick. Mechs are basically the tanks of the game. Infantry can kill them, but it is difficult without anti-armor guns. To this end, Mechs have a weak spot on their back that makes it easier to destroy them. It is a good idea in theory, but in practice it doesn’t work as well as it should. It will often look like you are hitting in the back, but you are not. As a result, you lose troops trying to take out a Mech because you think you can handle it. On the flip side, the enemy AI will blast your Mech in the back as soon as it turns around it feels like. It could just be a me problem, but it became really irritating at times.
The game also features a competitive multiplayer mode. The wait time for matches was a bit high, but I had no issues with lag when I eventually got in. As is usual in these types of games, I was steamrolled my first match. From there, most of my matches were much closer, so there is some sort of matchmaking algorithm. The first ranked season is set to begin sometime in mid-September.
While I didn’t run into any multiplayer issues, the single-player campaign did crash a few times. The game does autosave, but it doesn’t do so often. This really hurts because some of the campaign missions are very long. On average, they run 30-45 minutes, and you can quickly lose half of that to a crash. Be sure to save often, just in case.
While Iron Harvest is a fun game, it still has some kinks to work out. For those on the fence, wait for a few patches before checking it out.
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