Harvest is an award winning strategy game by the Indie games developer Oxeye studios. The game was initially released in 2008 but a port to the Linux platform was made available a few weeks ago. Harvest never got the attention it deserves, especially in the Linux gaming world where such good games are rare.
When Harvest got released for the Linux platform, there were some dependency problems especially for non-Ubuntu users, but these problems are now solved, so if you tried to run Harvest before and failed, try again. There is basically nothing crazy going on regarding the installation of the game. You just download it, unzip it and double click the binary and you are good to go!
The story is quite common I suppose. Humans are mining resources on other planets without caring for anything else including the aliens that live on the planet you build you base on. This builds slowly into a massive encounter with them, as they try to destroy your base and make sure you won’t leave their planet alive.
The gameplay is what makes this game shine, and what will make you “waste” a ton of hours in front of your monitor.
The aim of the game is to defend your base from the attacking aliens. To do that you need to harvest resources that you will use to build the various buildings of your base, and to circulate energy to power everything up. This is were simplicity comes to make the gameplay extremely addicting as you basically have to harvest to build and power to run. There is a power generator that passes out energy packets through the energy connectors and that is all about it. You will need to build enough generators, circulate the power by efficiently placing the power connectors and distribute the power packages to harvesters, lasers and missile towers.
To defend your base you can use laser towers, and missile towers. It may seem like a very limited selection, but it really doesn’t matter at all, as the depth of this game is in the placement and the power consumption of the lasers and the missiles. There are two missile tower types, the long distance and the short distance, while the lasers bring another strategic element to think about as you can connect many lasers to one and end up having a high ranged death ray.
There are 3 planets of different soil morphology that of course require the corresponding strategic base building design. Another great element of Harvest is the game modes that offers. There are enough to please everyone.
- Normal mode: Establish a base while being constantly threatened by an ever growing army of aliens.
- Wave mode: Prepare your defenses thoroughly before you activate the inevitable alien waves. You may choose when and which wave should attack, but each wave will grow stronger than before.
- Insane mode: Build a base in the deepest corner of hostile territory. You start with more resources, but the aliens are more determined than ever!
- Rush mode: Enter a location rich of resources, but at the brink of a total war. Your only hope is to deal a forceful blow at your enemies!
- Creative mode: Construct a settlement in the charted regions of the planet. You are in full control, as no aliens will appear unless you ask them to.
There is only one thing I would ask for if there would be a new version, and this is a design assisting system. Since the success is up to the right base building design, it would be great if the player could activate a grid and even a snap to grid option in order to build in symmetry.
Harvest: Massive Encounter is a 2D game, but it doesn’t look bad at all. The graphics are exactly as good as you need them to be in order to fully enjoy this game. Would it matter if this game was using Unigine? Not much I tell you. In addition, these graphics allow elder and weaker systems to run Harvest just fine.
Sounds and Music
You may find some sound effects like the explosions to be somewhat fake, or not good enough, and the constant noise that comes from the harvesters and the overloaded power connectors is surely tedious. What I believe to be much better is the music of Harvest. Composer Steve Olofsson did a great job encapsulating a “deep space” feeling in to his creations for Harvest, and even though you don’t get to hear them all the time, every time they kick in you get that feeling again.
Harvest: Massive Encounter is one of the most unique real time strategy / tower defence games I’ve ever played, and one of the very few seriously addicting games you’ll find available for the Linux platform. It is very easy to learn, and extremely hard to master. If you are a tower defence kind of guy, you will absolutely love this. If not, you may become one by playing Harvest! The cost of the game is 9.99 usd, and there is a demo available too. Have a great gaming weekend everyone!