Harvest Hunt Review – Village of the Damned

Harvest Hunt Review – Village of the Damned

Platforms: Windows PC, Steam

Game Name: Harvest Hunt

Publisher: Neonhive Games

Developer: Villainous Games Studio

Genre: Action, Adventure

Release Date: May 22nd, 2024

Harvest Hunt by Villainous Games Studio

For all the genres Rogue-likes have been mashed up with lately, survival horror is one that’s been notably absent. While genre titans like Amnesia have dabbled with procedurally-generated elements, we’re not exactly drowning in fully randomized games intended to scare the pants off you.

It’s this mix of elements that immediately makes Harvest Hunt stand out from the crowd. But should it be your poison of choice for your next dark and stormy night?

Shine On, Harvest Moon

The village of Luna Nova has a pest problem. Only thing is, it’s nothing as simple as locusts or fungus. Instead, an eldritch horror called the Devourer has descended upon the land, destroying both the crops and anyone who gets in its way.

As the chosen Warden of the village, you have one main goal: keep your people alive, whatever it takes.

It’s the perfect setup for a Rogue-like, and the game uses it masterfully. Each run begins with the election of a new Warden who is booted into the wilderness to harvest supplies while trying to stay alive.

The stakes are simple: harvest enough food, and your villagers survive one of the run’s five nights. Come up short, and they start dying. If they all die – or if you fall prey to the Devourer, it’s new run time.

The meat of the gameplay is spent in Luna Nova’s gorgeously ominous, Tim Burton-meets-Eastern European mythology wilderness, wandering around in first-person and trying to harvest supplies while keeping your eyes (and ears) out for the Devourer.

The simple resource collecting is made all the more tense by the fact that your foe is constantly wandering (and warping) around the place, destroying supplies while looking for you. Noise attracts it, as does your lantern, and it’s relentless when it finds you.

Inhumane Harvest

Harvest Hunt’s integration of its core mechanics into the Rogue-like formula is equally impressive. Each night randomizes elements that will keep you on your toes as you search. Tools for distracting (or even fighting) the monster can be bought between nights, but at the cost of how much health you start the next night with.

Similarly, you gain a new randomized perk between each night, but so does the Devourer, meaning even as you power up you never feel safe.

Between the inspired gameplay and the game’s impressive production, this should be a slam-dunk. Unfortunately, what keeps Harvest Hunt from becoming truly special has a lot to do with the Devourer itself.

It’s not uncommon to spawn into a map with the thing effectively right beside you, and upon being caught, it grabs you for a tedious quick time event to escape that’s far more annoying than scary.

The game also makes much ado about how you have the option to try to take down and banish the creature (the tutorial even forces you to do it). Unfortunately, the tools you use to do so feel clunky to use and offer very little feedback on how effective they are.

I understand wanting to make this option feel desperate and unreliable, but it feels like this is accomplished not through intentional design but rather a lack of polish.

The Verdict

I ultimately came away from Harvest Hunt feeling conflicted. It has a lot of fantastic design that I genuinely love, but its problems are jarring enough that it undercuts the experience.

I still think it’s absolutely worth a try, especially if you love the idea of combining these genres, but be warned of the horrors contained within.

Harvest Hunt is available via Steam.

Watch the trailer for Harvest Hunt below:

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