Oh, The Sweet, Sweet Iron-y
I’ll say it right off the bat: the gaming community is in dire, dire need of real-time strategy games. Though there is a robust library available on platforms like Steam, the selection available is somewhat lacking, especially when compared to other genres such as RPG, first-person shooters, and platformers. And unlike the latter two categories, the real-time strategy group has not experienced the same degree of a “retro renaissance.” With this in mind, I’m always gleeful when a new RTS is announced, and when our benevolent overlord Francis told me about Iron Harvest, also known as Iron Harvest 1920+, I knew I just had to try it out. Does it fill the need for more and newer RTSes? Read on and find out!
Iron Harvest 1920+ takes place in an alternate version of the early 20th century, which is more technologically advanced. The Great War has occurred in this world’s Europe, and the continent’s great powers are still recovering from the war’s destruction. The aftermath has left the landscape littered with all manner of scrap and machinery, triggering a brief period of prosperity and recovery. This peace doesn’t last long, however, as the great powers are vying for a rematch. Before they know it, peasants and rich folks alike are drawn into a war that surprised nobody.
The More War Changes, The More It Stays The Same.
In Iron Harvest, players take on the role of one of three nations, based on Russia (Rusviet), Poland (Polania), and Germany (Saxony). The game mixes industrialization with open-field country warfare and early 20th-century tech with futuristic devices. The result is a “dieselpunk” experience, with devices and mechs crafted out of wrought iron and designed like early industrial machinery. The single-player campaign allows you to control several heroes from each respective nation and is a surprisingly engaging story.
I’m actually quite pleased that such effort was put into the game’s narrative, as this is not the sort of thing that RTS is traditionally known for. It also manages to be far less cheesy than the pulp-novel quality of writing we got from games like Command & Conquer: Red Alert and Empire Earth. This isn’t to say that Iron Harvest 1920+ is lacking in the multiplayer department. Far from it. In fact, great care has been taken to make sure all the units are balanced, giving no one faction a clear and decisive advantage over another.
Co-op play is particularly interesting, and I would say that it is this mode that got the greatest care and attention, and the game is considerably better if you play the campaign with a mate. You won’t regret it.
The Men And Women With The Iron Hearts
The game is a ton of fun, and it made me really harken back to my days of playing Age Of Empires for hours on end when I came home from school. However, I’ll be blunt here: the pace of the action is very slow. Mechs move like absolute slogs, and getting your hero of choice to attack takes very, very long. I personally don’t dislike this; it gives the game an almost turn-based feel, and the slower pace makes for more calculated, cerebral play. I also know that this style won’t appeal to everybody, and those expecting to invoke some sort of super-unit rush will be disappointed.
Still, Iron Harvest will make most RTS aficionados sit up and take notice, what with its absolutely beautiful graphics and sound. Along with the mandatory fires, explosions, and delicious wanton destruction, you can also expect some really fancy acting and rock-solid multiplayer action. Get a few experienced players to go at it and enjoy the fireworks display, much like the sort you would have expected way back in the days of Command & Conquer: Generals.
Iron Harvest 1920+ is a gorgeous-looking RTS that harkens back to the classics while bringing its own unique brand of destruction. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and the slower style of gameplay definitely won’t appeal to everybody, though real-time strategy fans looking for their next fix should seriously look into trying it out, especially if they happen to have some buddies they can rope into playing against them, or with them if you prefer.
If you think it’s something right up your street, check out its Steam page here. If you’ve played the open beta or purchased it, let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Windows PC / Steam (Reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4; Publisher: Deep Silver; Developer: KING Art; Number of players: single-player (campaign, AI skirmish), multiplayer (online PvP, online co-op); Released on the 1st of September, 2020.
Full disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher.