From King Art Games and the art stylings of Jakub Rozalski comes Iron Harvest 1920+. Set in an alternate timeline, 2 years post WW1, Iron Harvest is a real-time strategy (RTS) game in the vein of Company of Heroes and the like.
A strong mix of steampunk and WW1 European military aesthetic oozes from this game with early 1900s style armored mechs roaming throughout the countryside in the art stills from the game. Everything feels lived in and believable. This what if scenario is described by the developers as:
“After the Great War, farmers found a plethora of unexploded ordnance, barbed wire, weapons, shrapnel and bullets while ploughing their fields. They called it the (Iron Harvest).”
In battles, giant bipedal armored units lumbered across the fields, crushing fields of wheat and wooden fences. Rocket and riflemen walk aside the large mech units. An awe inspiring scene for sure. Buildings and structures break and crumble based on how they’re hit. Smash a corner of a brick house and that part of house will get damaged. The developers informed me that destruction is dynamic which gives a greater sense of immersion and also interesting tactical options not seen in other RTSes.
I stopped and zoomed in to admire the detailed animation of all the units when I had a breather. This game definitely has an extreme level of detail, the care and time put into the overall experience shows.
The soundtrack is equally fitting. The musical score crashing and blasting through my headphones. It’s what you’d expect, loud and bombastic with your typical drums, brass and strings. Less tense moments have more mellow instrumentation but still very good compositions and pulled me more into the game world.
As far as the gameplay goes, the devs were quick to point out that this game is emphasizing strategy over APM (actions per minute) saying that their game is less Starcraft II and more an RTS that you can take your time with. That’s not to say that there are not bouts of fast-paced action and urgency on the battlefield. In my play-through, I went through two varied missions. One in which I had to take over control points on the battlefield to win the skirmish. The other was an escort mission where I had to protect a steampunk inspired locomotive armed with a large shell cannon from one end of the battlefield to another.
On foot units are controlled within small groups; you can move them behind cover, flank and fortify your units within buildings and structures. One of the things this game emphasized is strategy and positioning over a rock, paper, scissors unit match up. Sending a swarth of units straight on frequently ended in death for my foot soldiers. Soldiers can also change their function as items are scattered across the battlefield which you can equip to turn your riflemen into rocketmen or engineers or any of the other included skills. Larger mech units provided a much needed punch of extra power with their mounted guns putting holes into the enemy. A combination of foot units as well as mech units is key. Each type has their own strengths and weaknesses and matching up the appropriate unit against the appropriate enemy type as well as proper positioning proved very effective.
Iron Harvest plays out over an extensive single player campaign and multiple coop campaigns. Random skirmishes are also available against the CPU or online versus human opponents. You can choose to play one of three factions: the Polonia Republic, Rusviet and the Saxony Empire. Rest assured that each faction will play differently, each with unique characteristics and units says the developer. I was only able to play as one faction during my play, but if the level of detail that was put into the animation and gameplay, they should most like feel distinct.
Iron Harvest is slated to come out for PC, Xbox One and PS4 on September, 1st 2020. The demo I played as on a PC with mouse and keyboard. It will be interesting how they incorporate a typical mouse and keyboard setup into a modern controller interface.