Iron Harvest 1920+

Game review by
Matt Cabral, Common Sense Media
Iron Harvest 1920+ Game Poster Image
Alt-history strategy game brings mechs and bears to battle.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

An oppressed resistance bravely fights for their freedom, but the game is still very much a conflict-focused war experience. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Two of the game's hero characters are strong female protagonists. A focus on family bonds, as well as beliefs in fighting for those that can't defend themselves. 

Ease of Play

Typical of real-time strategy games, the controls, systems, and mechanics can be complex. That said, a thorough, intuitive tutorial does a better job than similar games' help in getting players up to speed. Those familiar with strategy games will have little trouble with the learning curve. 

Violence

Lots of explosions, gunfire, soldiers dying on the battlefield. Characters die in pools of blood, but they're small and disappear after a short time. Blood and gore effects can be turned off in the options menu (although effects will still be present during cutscenes). 

Sex

In dialogue, some sexist comments from male characters who are surprised by the female protagonists' ability to fight.

Language

"Ass," "balls," "bastard," and "bitch" used in dialogue. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Iron Harvest 1920+ is a real-time strategy (RTS) game available for download on Windows-based PCs. It's very much a conflict-driven war game featuring frequent explosions and gunfire, but gore is typically limited to pools of blood gathered under recently deceased soldiers. The effect is small, disappears after a short time, and can be turned off in the settings. While the latter option removes the effect from gameplay, it's still visible during the cinematic cutscenes, where violence -- including the depiction of a character's severed limb -- can be a bit more graphic. Players can also command animals to attack, which triggers a mauling animation. Profanity, including "bitch" and "bastard," is occasionally used by characters. The game includes positive representations of female soldiers, who fight for their family and fellow citizens who can't defend themselves. These playable heroes are occasionally met with subtly sexist remarks from male characters who are surprised by their abilities on the battlefield. Iron Harvest 1920+ features a lengthy, intuitive tutorial to help ease players into its controls and many gameplay features. That said, complete newcomers to the genre may face some challenges in tackling the learning curve, which can be steep. The game features three separate but connected campaigns, as well as multiple non-story modes, including cooperative and competitive online options. 

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What's it about?

Set in an alternate history, Iron Harvest 1920+ mixes a post-WWI European visual style with industrial advancement that gave rise to the creation of "dieselpunk" war-machines called mechs. Three fictional factions -- Rusviet, Saxony, and Polania -- driven by a variety of motivations, battle it out using traditional infantry as well as these powerful, lumbering machines. The story is told through a trio of dedicated campaigns, allowing players to assume the role of three different protagonists. These hero characters are also accompanied by companion animals, which can be commanded to attack adversaries alongside the soldiers and mechs.

Is it any good?

This real-time strategy game's world beautifully blends WWI-era environments -- from lush, rural farmlands to stunning, snow-covered forests -- with explosive, mech-driven warfare. The attention to detail that's gone into building the Iron Harvest world is equally present in its story and characters. Each faction's playable hero has depth typically reserved for heroes of action/adventure games, while the plot is more than just a backdrop to battles. Much of this is due to the plentiful use of in-game dialogue -- despite the voice acting's subpar quality -- as well as numerous, well-produced cutscenes. But the game's action doesn't suffer: It does more than a serviceable job putting you in command of your tactical forces by favoring thoughtful tactical approaches over fast-paced action.

Iron Harvest's resource-gathering and base-building elements are fairly streamlined, which works well with its more measured pacing. Of course, the game mixes things up a bit with its mechs, which come in various battlefield-scarring shapes and sizes, and commanding these menaces is always a blast. The hero characters' companion animals, which include a bear, a tiger, and a pair of wolves, also add a nice strategic layer -- and some extra personality. Summoning your beast to heal you, after they've just feasted on your foes, never gets old. Iron Harvest also earns points for its excellent tutorial, as it takes time to bring newcomers up to speed without alienating seasoned strategists. An optional, easy difficulty mode is offered for those more interested in the story than the gameplay, while an impressive slate of noncampaign and online modes invite serious strategists to focus on combat. Despite its mech warfare, Iron Harvest's gameplay doesn't do much to evolve the genre, but its story, setting, and characters are so good, even casual fans might want to experience its thoughtfully crafted world. Iron Harvest 1920+ is worth heading to the front lines for. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the game's alternative history. What's different about Iron Harvest 1920+'s version of history compared to real-world history? How does the game blend these differences alongside more accurate representations of history? Is it OK for entertainment media to tell stories that mix real history with alternate versions? 

  • What are the various factions' motivations in the story? Do these motivations feel right or wrong? (Can they be both?) How do the heroes of each faction feel about these motivations? 

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love strategy

Themes & Topics

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