Harvest: Massive Encounter


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Rating: 4.8/5 (49 votes)
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Harvest: Massive Encounter

JohnBHarvest: Massive Encounter, by Oxeye Game Studio, is a survival-based real-time strategy game with several modes of play that lend a free-form tower defense feel to the experience. You play the humans defending an expanding plot of land against swarms (and I do mean swarms) of alien UFOs, mechanized bots and other baddies. It's an extremely frantic game that's usually more nerve-wrecking than brain-stretching.

harvestmassiveencounter.jpgWhen compared to most real time strategy games, Harvest is light on the strategy and depth of unit abilities but heavy on arcade-style action and swarms of enemies. Set in the distant future, you play the role of a new worker on the planet Hephaestus who must build a defense network against invading aliens. You won't fight just one or two at a time, however. Expect each wave to number in the hundreds, all of which must be dispatched before you can take a breather. Saying this game is intense doesn't do it justice.

To build units in Harvest you must first mine the hills for minerals. With enough cash in hand, place buildings with a simple click of the mouse. Then, supply units with energy by distributing tiny waypoint nodes throughout the battlefield. The massive network of energy being exchanged will form a glowing web that's quite impressive to look at, especially when you get an idea what a strong feed is compared to a weak one. The more energy a building gets, the faster it's erected, the faster it reloads, and the faster it repairs itself when damaged.

In general, your first task should be to establish several harvesters to bring in minerals, then place a few energy waypoints before plopping laser towers or missile bases on the ground. There are only six building types, each with a few upgrade or optional modes of operation, but it's quantity that counts in this game, so build lots of them. Many times I found myself just scrolling and clicking the landscape at random to place towers.

There are five main modes to play in Harvest: Massive Encounter, each with a slightly different shade of strategy/tower defense/arcade action. All modes are available on three unique planets: Hephaestus, Aries, and Poseidon.

  • Normal: Establish a stable base to defend against an ever-growing army of aliens. Earn as many credits as possible and try to top your best threat level with each try.
  • Wave: The most tower defense-like mode, prepare your defenses for as long as you like, then unleash the waves of aliens. Defeat all ten increasingly massive waves as quickly as possible.
  • Insane: True to its name, Insane forces you to build a base deep in enemy territory. You start with extra resources, but the aliens aren't too pleased with you...
  • Rush: Resources are plentiful, but the enemy is fierce. The goal is to deal 50,000 points of damage as quickly as possible while defending your base from the aliens.
  • Creative: A sandbox-style mode where you build a settlement and have full control over attacking swarms of aliens.

harvestmassiveencounter2.jpgAnalysis: While it does favor swarms instead of strategy, once you dig your nails deep into the game you'll learn subtle strategies necessary to polish off the toughest challenges Harvest throws your way. It's about long-term survival, not packing a powerful one-two punch and calling it a day, placing the game in a slightly different category than most in the genre.

The variety of modes in Harvest do wonders for replayability, but after spending a lot of time with the game you'll suddenly realize it's a one-trick pony. Sure, that one trick is amazing and will keep you busy for weeks, but the variety of units and enemies just doesn't support a long, progressive experience. Think of Harvest as a series of very polished casual Flash games packaged together and you'll have an idea of what to expect.

The free time-unlimited demo contains the first two modes of play on the planet Hephaestus. Download, run through the excellent tutorial, then start your career as alien swarm obliterator.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo (53MB)
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo (55MB)
Get the full version

13 Comments

Whoa, I'm first! Great game, always wanted something like this. Too bad that is only for an hour.


[Edit: A time-unlimited demo is not "only for an hour".]

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Unfortunately, I felt that the shortcomings in variety weakened the game so much that, although initially impressed, I won't be purchasing it. I'm all in favor of these sort of strategy games (I used to play Zeus: Master of Olympus nonstop) and the energy links were a very innovative mechanic. But the term one-trick pony really DOES apply here, and while I was entertained for a few minutes, I'd be too concerned with the game not holding my attention for long enough to warrant spending money on.

If it updates in the future with more building types and more objective-based gameplay (rather than the "get a high score" or "defeat all the enemies" goals the game is limited to now) I'll buy it in a second.

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I played the game for a couple rounds and while I enjoyed it I felt it had negative impacts on my sleep, lol - no kidding. The noises, the music and the flashy graphcis of the energy pellets - all of that combined made me kind of aggressive. And when I wanted to sleep I saw yellow pellets all over and the sound of overchaged energy nodes was still suck in my head - and I only played for about one hour altogether. :-D

If it wasn't for that "health issue" I would buy it - I seriously pondered doing so. :-)

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Nivekolas April 13, 2008 1:44 PM

woo hoo!
go oxeye!
nice job!

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Well, I was entertained for some minutes. However, I was turned off by those tiny rockets that come around at threat 17 or something like that.
They are just mean, because you have no chance to notice them (besides your base exploding) and you must fight them completely different from the rest (at least, thats what my feeling tells me, laserchain vs anything, lots of single lasers for those critters).
It is not inherently bad that enemies need different strategies, however, given the GUI of this game, I just need more time to switch from doom-laser to point defense (some 'unlink all laser turrets' were cool, or just a different color for those tiny missles)

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My brother will be buying this. He played it every day when the beta was out until a certain date that it was disabled. But he would just turn back the clock on his computer and it would work again.

Now there are different modes... this game will be great!! Before, it was just play to die.

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The trick is to NOT chain lasers where possible. Chaining lets you make use of lasers further inside your base, where expansion has made them redundant. 3 separate lasers outpower a 3-chain, and push back 3 enemies instead of just one. Also, chained lasers take time to focus full power on an enemy. Only chain to focus useless lasers into useful ones, not to get a giant doom-laser, unless you want to get slaughtered by kamikaze drones. Part of the challenge is having to micro-manage your laser chains...

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Seandude Author Profile Page April 23, 2008 7:32 PM

What do the living quartes ect. do for you?

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Great game. I would like to see some more buildings (costly but powerful ones). An unlink / link all lasers would be cool too. But really, COPY and PASTE would save me a lot of time when building those deathstars. Big up M.E.

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Well, the combined lasers aren't quite only for the inside batches. There are two reasons to (temporarily) group perimeter lasers.

One, when you're not engaged at close range, focus fire to hit the enemy earlier.

Two, when you've got teleporter ships hovering just outside the range of your individual defense towers, focus and take em out, then return to killing the swarms. Note that the teleporter ships should be high on your target priority list for this to work.

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Actually the 73MB file that is available for Mac OS X via the ads on your site is a one hour time limited demo.

If you go to Oxeye Game Studio and download the different 55MB demo direct from them, it's a time-unlimited demo.

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Anonymous April 4, 2009 6:11 PM

I really wish there were more types of towers. I like this game a lot but, just 2 missle towers and the laser tower doesn't cut it. I want to get creative when I kill things (lol). I really hope there is an update coming that adds more enemy types and towers. I got hooked on the demo but quickly got bored when I realized that everything in the demo is in the real game. Really, you're only buying 2 more landscapes. 20 bucks is still a good price, but I kinda feel ripped off. I still play it though in wave mode. That final wave's a mess!

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Confusion Author Profile Page July 20, 2010 7:42 AM

After two hours at this game, my head has gone bezerk. Oh my god.
At first glance there's only five different building types. Which then turns out that you can build hundreds of them. And then you realize that you have to, since the aliens started to attack at the thousands. And finally when your base survived threat level 100, your five building types has now become a mesh of total awesomeness.
This. Is. Great.
Two things I would like to suggest for a future sequel, if the developers wish to make one:
More types of towers would be nice. Sure, the blend of the five buildings ends up crazily fantastic, but the blend of e.g. 8 building types will mean that my head will asplodes by the sheer surreal greatness mixed up by God. Even upgrades of the original five towers would be welcome.
A campaign mode, maybe? I know the style of the game is resource mining, base defending and score beating, but a storyline would appeal more to me. Something to the lines of a space commander frantically trying to survive the endless alien hordes maybe?
I love this game, and I would very much like to have a sequel delivered soon. It will take a very long time for me to get bored of this game(something like several thousands millions years, perhaps).
Go go Oxeye!

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