“Harvest of Souls” sounds like a bad Children of the Corn sequel. But it is actually a decent follow-up to Sierra’s Shivers. Was it as good as Shivers? In many ways, yes. but there were a few hiccups that caused some reviewers to look upon it less favorably.
In my last post, I briefly went over how Shivers was a good start to my introduction to the world of horror gaming. It had a chilling atmosphere, engaging puzzles, and quite a few heart stopping jumps. While I would go on to the more action oriented, typically shooter styled games like Silent Hill or The Last of Us, I never forgot how important an atmospheric build was when it came to getting the scares I crave. While it wasn’t a masterpiece (though certainly among the best puzzle games of its kind), it was a solid addition to my growing gaming collection and made me hunger for more.
So I was delighted it had a sequel.
Well, “sequel” isn’t really the correct term. Harvest of Souls exists in the same world, presumably sometime after the events of Shivers, but it does not feature any of the same characters or carry on the storyline of the first.
Harvest of Souls takes place in the (now deserted) town of Cyclone, outside of Flagstaff. Though supposedly a tourist town and popular with hikers, its residents are very mistrusting of outsiders (and a few certainly try to take advantage of them). Natural rock formations help isolate Cyclone from the world on three sides. A looming Anasazi ruin and a deadly town secret adds to the further mystique of the town. Your character arrives in the dead of night to join up with his traveling band mates only to discover that they’ve disappeared too. Dark rituals, buried truths, a sinister stalker, and an ancient legend pave the road for the player’s journey.
The good: Puzzles, puzzles, and more puzzles. Just as challenging, just as fun, I was delighted to see the Shivers crew didn’t forget what made the first game so enjoyable.
The music is also just as sinister and fits each area well, but now it comes with more of a rock core to go along with the theme. It is still used well to create a creepy vibe.
The improved: The panoramic view is a massive improvement. Not just in terms of easy movement for the player, but it adds to the slightly surreal element that the watercolor backdrop already provides.
Music videos! Yes, your character can watch music videos starring your missing friends! But more than eye and ear candy, the music videos serve as a way to provide important clues to what happened to the town as well as important puzzle solutions.
Graphics! Okay, we are still seeing the awesome watercolor effect, but sharpened and richer. The town looks gorgeous and eerie. Exploration is a must.
A map has been added to the game making navigation slightly easier and “fast traveling” is now possible.
Multiple endings have also been added (both good and bad). Your actions affect the outcome near the end, so choose wisely!
The bad: We have more character interaction, which means more bad acting. Really bad acting. And some may find a few of the puzzles too tedious (particularly the Bahos/Petroglyph puzzles).
The storyline has also much improved, unfortunately there are still a few plot holes. But a solid improvement nonetheless.
Overall, it was a good sequel and a solid effort was made by Sierra to give the gamer what they wanted and build a good game. This is another one I recommend giving a go at.
Some more reviews: