Review by Toger
Ever notice how dogs can find the most interesting things during
their nightly walks? Moldy pizza, half-eaten burgers or a large
gaping hole in the ground
What kind of animal made
this? Quick as a wink, your dog disappears down the rabbit hole
and you've no choice but to go after it!
Thus begins Harvest, a new indie adventure game written,
developed, produced and birthed by Michael B. Clark. The rabbit
hole reference was the first thing I thought of as I skittered
down the opening after my dog because as soon as I got down the
ladder things got "curiouser and curiouser."
Harvest's story revolves around an estranged father and
son. The son has invented a machine that literally squeezes water
from rocks. Think of the lives he'll save! Or will he? You happen
upon their underground bunker while searching for your dog. And
being the avid adventurer that you are, you'll snoop, pry and
intrude into their lives to find out what's really going on.
Gameplay is presented in traditional point-and-click, inventory-based,
first-person slide-show view with limited character interaction.
As you wander about the house, you'll find a variety of realistic
objects scattered throughout the rooms with which to interact.
You'll discover a usable answering machine, drawers to open and
close and cabinets where you can riffle the contents. And who
doesn't like snooping in the neighbor's cabinets? Although the
game is somewhat linear, you can solve the puzzles in any order.
If you're lacking the necessary inventory object, you can always
come back to complete the puzzle at a later time.
Harvest's screens were hand-drawn using Photoshop. For
me, they tended to be somewhat flat-looking, lacking the texture
you see in today's games. I'm an admitted eye candy junkie. On
the other hand, the rooms and the objects contained in the rooms
were real enough that I kept trying to move away from the microwave
as I used it in part of a puzzle. (I don't stand in front of operating
microwave ovens. It's a quirk. I know.)
If there's a puzzle-lover's heaven, Harvest is part of
it. The majority of the puzzles are logic-based, running the gamut
from the simplistic hastily scrawled-message-corresponds-to-that-over-there
to the mind-boggling and eye-popping recalibrate-the-fuel-cell
puzzle. (You didn't honestly think I'd give a hint on that one,
did you?) You'll want to pay close attention in order to make
that leap of logic that lets you realize that the innocuous object
in one room is the key to solving the puzzle at hand.
I have to take issue with one of the puzzlesthe painting
found on the bookshelf. The painting itself is beautiful; however,
it's so intricately detailed and delicately colored that it's
difficult to tell whether or not sections are color or black and
white. Since being able to see that difference and the minute
detail directly affects another puzzle I found it difficult to
accomplish the task without resorting to a walkthrough.
Also included: a slider and twocount 'emtwo mazes.
Oops, I think I hear people stampeding from the room. Sliders
are fun! (I hear you muttering.) The mazes on the other hand ...
The cornfield maze is short and sweet. (Get it? Maze. Corn. Sweet
... never mind.) The maze of corridors had me pulling my hair
out and using language that would have made a sailor blush. I
managed to bulldog my way through to the end of the maze and promptly
congratulated myself on my sheer brilliance. Imagine my horror
during the end game when one of the characters tells me that I
must make my way back to the main house, as fast as I can, to
retrieve a vital clue! I kept looking for the option to ask him
if he could wait a couple of days while I navigated my wayin
reversethrough the corridors!
You cannot die in Harvest, although when I was stuck in
that corridor maze I desperately wanted to be put out of my misery.
Inventory is stored in a collapsible section at the top of the
screen. All items dropped into your inventory are easily accessible
at any timeno cycling through volumes of items to get to
the one you need. The game also features a save anywhere option
and unlimited save game slots. Be aware that if you're in the
middle of a puzzle when you save and shut down, the game may not
save at exactly that pointit saves at a "node"
just prior to the puzzleso you could possibly find yourself
repeating the beginning of some puzzles.
Harvest turned out to be a nice diversion from some of
the more dialogue- or action-intensive games that I play. The
story was well-written, to the point that I desperately needed
to find out what made Vance tick and do the things that he did.
Neither the fact that I'm logic-challenged nor the niggly issues
I had with a couple of puzzles detracted from my overall enjoyment
of the game. If you're a first-person puzzle lover, then Harvest
will definitely rock your world. (Get it? Rock your world?
Getting water from a rock? I know you're out there, I can hear
So the next time you take your dog for his nightly walk, keep
a tight hold on the leash. You just never know what you'll find
in the park ... in the dark ... down the rabbit hole.