While many would say the RTS genre is on life support Iron Harvest quietly walked into the room and proves that the genre is still more than relevant. The campaign has many unique and engaging missions and the story ranks with greatest in the genre. Throw in the dieselpunk alternate history world and you've got a very engaging gaming experience for the RTS player.
We had a lot of fun with Iron Harvest. While the RTS genre has given us many mediocre graphics of late, Iron Harvest exceeds with a graphic experience that stays crisp and sharp on your high-end PC. The game can get really crazy and the super detailed model that goes into all the machinery is great. We noticed a few drop-offs and some of the models were a little bland but it was still a pretty strong outing on our system. We were also impressed with the soundtrack, it really helped drive the gameplay and we loved discovering every new track.
While the gameplay is definitely inspired by Company of Heroes there is more of a strategic focus rather than tactical. The dieselpunk aesthetic fits perfect and the models, for the most part, are detailed and crisp. Mention has to be made of the destructible environments, which are some of, if not the best we have seen in an RTS. In terms of balance between combat and resource gathering/building you will definitely spend more time doing the former. The AI in campaign mode is adept without being frustrating but we found the AI in skirmish mode to be less up to the task and unless you make a glaring mistake you should still be able to get the win.
Iron Harvest presents the game in a very polished and high standard. The motion blur is done nicely but many may decide to disable it as it can become fatiguing over time. Upon closer inspection of the game assets some polygons can be sharper than desired and textures might not be as photorealistic as the developers were shooting for. The cinematic graphics played before and after every campaign mission are superb and directed wonderfully making you want to dig deeper into the game.
In addition to the amazing destructible environments that we already mentioned, the story is where the game really shines. Many times in RTS games the story is more of an afterthought, Iron Harvest gives the story top billing and ranks among the greats in terms of story. The game takes place in the 1920s alternate history universe created by the Polish artist Jakub Różalski and was inspired by the Polish–Soviet War of 1919–1920. This alternate history also includes a dieselpunk aesthetic so instead of the usual infantry and tanks you will have dieselpunk versions of those units. The aesthetic works perfectly and doesn't come off as silly. The story is focused on the conflict between three nations in Central and Eastern Europe — Polania, Rusviet and Saxony that occurs in the aftermath of World War I.
If Iron Harvest is any indicator, King Art Games has a promising future and we can't wait to see what is coming. While it might not be considered a RTS classic there is no denying the unique setting and amazing story help set it apart from its peers. If you're an RTS fan then you will definitely want to spend some time with Iron Harvest, just don't forget to bring some diesel.