Iron Harvest’s major innovation isn’t dieselpunk mechs, it’s traditionalism

Real-time strategy never really went away, but it’s hard to deny that the genre has seen stronger days. Mention RTS in certain company, in fact, and the conversation will inevitably gravitate toward the late greats: Command & Conquer, StarCraft, Company of Heroes. The very innovations subsequent games used to try to carve out their own place in the RTS landscape seem to have diluted the genre beyond recognition – which may be why the time is ripe for a game like Iron Harvest.

Iron Harvest is instantly familiar, and not only to folks who have been following the work of artist Jakub Różalski, whose dieselpunk 1920+ scenes caught fire on social media several years ago and wound up inspiring the board game Scythe. It’s an RTS in the classic form – anyone who has touched a Company of Heroes or Men of War title will instantly feel right at home playing Iron Harvest. You command squads of soldiers who will magnetise themselves to bits of cover. It’s a game of territorial control, with maps divided into small sectors which players capture in order to hasten the acquisition of resources and expand their armies.

While Iron Harvest has come up with (as well as borrowed) a few of what someone might uncharitably describe as gimmicks, the foundation of the game is set solidly in established strengths: Company of Heroes worked brilliantly, so why not just do that again? With a few notable exceptions, that seems to be what King Art Games has done, and the result is surprisingly refreshing.

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