While the catalogue of Xbox LIVE enabled games on Windows Phone 7 benefits from some interesting, addictive experiences and a number of big licences, all too few are developed specifically to take advantage of the host format. Enter The Harvest, an exclusive developed entirely with Windows Phone 7 in mind, and it shows. The Harvest is a surprisingly robust mobile game release, and one that will hopefully pave the way for more progressive gameplay experiences on Windows Phone 7.
Playing as an Action-RPG, The Harvest is an elegantly presented dungeon-crawler in which defeating numerous enemies and gathering loot are the familiar mechanics that give support to the addictive nature of the gameplay, despite playing through repeated levels featuring a limited range of enemies. And as with the genre forebears, these limitations matter very little, as The Harvest is thoroughly entertaining in its design within these constraints. Controlled by tapping a position to move to, tapping on an enemy to begin combat and double-tapping on your character to initiate one of three equipped special abilities, the simplistic delivery leads to some surprisingly deep level structure and showdowns.
Featuring three different character types to play as (all unlocked by the end of the first level with the starting character) The Harvest takes places across only a handful of levels, though each of which is considerably expansive for a mobile game, easily taking around an hour to explore to their fullest. Featuring boss fights, hidden logs and destructible structures, The Harvest certainly does a good job at providing bang for its buck. The levelling-up mechanic is fairly generic in it’s delivery, but of course aids to the addictive nature of the game as those rising numbers and greater abilities are earned.
While much of The Harvest’s gameplay may be fairly generic, this isn’t a significant problem as it remains hugely enjoyable. What is an issue of note however, is that of its stability. Though it may well be one of the most progressive 3D titles yet delivered on smartphone handsets, the fact that The Harvest suffers from crashes so regularly means it simply can’t be considered an essential purchase.
Visually, The Harvest is a treat. High-definition 3D characters and backdrops, very well animated and only ever presenting minor issues, The Harvest is technically superior to anything the Nintendo DS, but feng shui of the game’s presentations could easily appear on par with the PlayStation Portable’s (PSP) output to the untrained eye, superior even to Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade. The storyline is delivered through brushstroke comic panels, and is pleasant if far from being a truly notable aspect of the game.
As an Action-RPG title on a mobile handset, The Harvest does a very good job of bringing home console sentimentalities to lesser hardware. Engrossing in it’s progression mechanics and visually impressive, The Harvest is certainly one of the most interesting mobile releases in 2010. The Harvest is such a well balanced title for the most part that it’s very surprising Microsoft Game Studios didn’t decide to make it a ‘must-have’ release by tying it into the Halo franchise, especially given it’s science-fiction flavour. One of very few truly unique titles developed specifically for the Windows Phone 7 Xbox LIVE platform, The Harvest will be a leading light for the format as soon as they patch the game to fix the stability issues.