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Harvest Hunt Review: Hunt or Be Hunted

Platform reviewed: Steam

Release date: 5/22/2024

I struggle to fall asleep at night, haunted by vivid dreams of a towering monster relentlessly pursuing me as I gather ambrosia to sustain my village. This unnerving experience follows me even after only playing Harvest Hunt during daylight hours (I couldn't play this game at night). But putting all jesting aside, Harvest Hunt is an exceptional horror game. Its chilling sound design, graphic novel-inspired visuals, and the ingeniously crafted premise of a hunt-or-be-hunted dynamic are brilliantly brought to life, making it a fantastic entry in the horror game genre.

The cursed village of Luna Nova is plagued by a fearsome entity known as The Devourer, a creature that feasts upon and destroys ambrosia, the very essence that sustains Luna Nova. In my role as The Warden, the fate of the village rests on my shoulders. My primary duty is to gather sufficient ambrosia to maintain the village's vitality and, if feasible, to banish The Devourer. Accomplishing the former is a task easier said than done. The collection of ambrosia spans five nights, each bringing with it new tools, fortifications, or strengths for my quest. Additionally, every night involves the drawing of random Whisper cards that are allocated to the hunt: Blessings that augment my survival prospects, Calamities that inflict adverse effects on me as the Warden, and Monster Mutations that alter the Devourer's capabilities and remain constant throughout each night.

Before the night, I choose which tools I want to assign to each of the locations on the map. Purchasing tools costs vigor, which is basically health. This is my one point of contention: spending health on tools puts me at an immediate disadvantage. The one good thing is finding vigor is fairly easy, as it’s plentiful throughout the map.

The hunt is intense. In my hand, a lantern pierces the darkness, a beacon that, while aiding my vision, also betrays my location to The Devourer. The moment I extinguish the light, darkness envelops me, severely impairing my sight within seconds. Navigating the terrain is a precarious endeavor; every step on wooden planks, rocks, or scattered bones risks producing sounds that could reveal my position as well. Amidst this dangerous game of cat and mouse, as I seek out ambrosia and evade The Devourer, the ambient sounds play a critical role. Whether it's the echo of my own footsteps or the ominous groans of The Devourer drawing nearer, the audio is exceptional. It adds a rich layer of immersion, placing me squarely in the heart of the hunt.

I have the option of trying to banish The Devourer. This requires me to find a tool that will damage the beast. Even if I don’t have enough vigor (or want to spend vigor) to buy tools, some pitchforks are placed at each location. I tried using the pitchfork to damage The Devourer; that was a mistake - it’s too weak and slow. Spending vigor to get better tools is essential to banishing The Devourer. Once I have damaged the creature, it drops a piece of it, which I take to an effigy, which will banish the Devourer. Doing so will provide more fortifications and strengths and opens more lore to the game. To locate the tools, I can wear a mask that illuminates them in yellow. This function enhances the game's horror element.

After every night, I am bestowed strength and fortification cards. However, since there's a limit to how many cards I can carry, I must strategize carefully about which ones to retain. This limitation also enables me to select cards that best complement my playing style.

I cannot overlook the art style in the game. One of the most captivating features of the game is how the art enhances the horror elements. It resembles a graphic novel and truly stands out visually.

Final Score: B+

Fans of horror games will be thrilled by the terrifying experience that Harvest Hunt offers. The innovative card system ensures that each playthrough feels unique. What sets Harvest Hunt apart is its flexibility, allowing players to tailor their gameplay experience to their preferences. Whether you prefer a quick one-night game or consecutive nights, the game accommodates your choices. The immersive visuals and eerie audio further enhance the chilling atmosphere of this intense hunt-or-be-hunted survival game.

Review code provided by Neonhive



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