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A graphical point-and-click adventure game, released in 1996.
The only thing Steve knows about himself is that his name is Steve, and he's really just taking that on faith. Initially the neighborhood may appear to be a perfect Stepford Suburbia, but with even more things wrong than usual. Mom is baking (thousands of) cookies in preperation for a bake sale that's still a week away. Of course, they won't be good then, so she's shoveling them into the trash. Steve's baby brother lies screaming in his crib, neglected. Steve's brother, Hank, is immovable from in front of the television, where he watches a disturbingly gory and realistic show about cowboys killing Native Americans, not much of a plot or anything, just killing them over and over, the "special effects" make it disturbingly real.
Mom informs Steve that when the big day comes, the town's Lodge will have a big blood drive, and everyone has to give blood. Well, except for Lodge members. Steve should consider joining the Lodge. Steve decides to join the Lodge, if he makes it past the paper boy that is. See, times have been tough around Harvest since the newspaper building burned down, and a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do, right? Well, if there aren't any newspapers being made, then our lad has decided to pick them up. He'd really appreciate it if you could help him out, just leave a newspaper for him outside every day... or there might be some consequences.
Upon visiting the Lodge, the Lodge's Sergeant At Arms informs Steve telepathically that the Lodge has standards Steve must meet in order to apply, and for today's task Steve must steal or otherwise aquire an application to the Lodge. Each day, Steve is given a successively worse task. From stealing an antique barber pole from its shop (how was Steve supposed to know that the wires from the pole's light would land in a puddle of water, or that the shopkeep would be standing in that puddle when he went to go turn the pole on in the dark...) to outright arson (which provokes suicide), Steve finds himself becomming more and more the villain in his own tale, but he can't stop... he has to join the lodge before the blood drive. Everyone has to help with the blood drive, Steve.
Needless to say, considered one of the most disgusting games ever created. Harvester is a reaction to, and Deconstruction of, the idea that video games promote violence, taking it to it's furthest extreme in the idea that video games create serial killers. Steve is a normal boy who's been abducted and placed into an incredibly detailed Virtual Reality simulation, the ultimate goal of which is to turn him into a serial killer, essentially a boy put into a video game that will make him a killer, or kill him. Because of the game's graphic nature, it was banned in Germany, heavily censored in the UK, and never released in Australia at all, as the distributor felt there would be no point as the game would just get banned anyways. In the US, the game received heavy attention from Moral Guardians and Media Watchdog types. Harvester set out to offend the hell out of anyone who took it seriously, while simultaneously using a quirky sense of humor for anyone else. E.G., when asked about Edna, the owner of the local diner, Mr. Johnson announces that what "she really needs" is a penis. The game's goal is both to make you laugh at certain points and be horrified at others, it's a rare person that Harvester cannot make squirm at some point.
- Arc Words: "You always were a kidder, Steve."
- Black Comedy: Harvest’s more…peculiar elements are frequently Played for Laughs.
- Broken Aesop: Arguable. The game’s Aesop is that exposure to violent media can lead people to become violent themselves, and tries to demonstrate this by forcing the player to perform heinous actions to win, and then rub their nose in it in the end. Whether this move works or simply breaks the Aesop completely is debatable.
- But Thou Must!: You will join the Lodge, whether you like it or not. Oh, and you will commit crime after crime, all because some guy in front of a door keeps telling you to.
- Also Option B seems to be that the Lodge will come for your blood in the Blood Drive, if you're not a member.
- Camp Gay: The Harvest Fire Department. They drive a pink fire truck, and spend their spare time drawing pictures of naked men. Easily one of the least insulting moments of the entire game.
- Chainsaw Good: Subverted. You can pick up a chainsaw (after killing its former owner, a birthday clown), and it is one of the most powerful melee weapons in the game. However, it has limited fuel, burns through its ammo supply quickly, and by the time you get it, you’ll probably have much more reliable weapons on hand.
- The Corruption: The whole reason behind...well, the whole town.
- Corrupt Hick: Sherriff Dwayne: Big on pie eating, light on crime fighting. Unless it’s Steve that’s breaking the law.
- Dead Baby Comedy: ...Well...not much more to say, really.
- Death by Sex: If you sleep with the hooker in the Lodge, you get a STD that will kill you if you don't find the vaccine.
- Deconstruction Game: Mocking Video Game Cruelty Potential and the idea that Evil Is Cool.
- Downer Ending: Steve and Stephanie get married in the dream, but die in reality.
- Actually, when Steve reaches Stephanie, he has to either kill her or marry her. Marrying her is actually the better of two Downer Endings you can get. If you kill her, well... Steve will be brought back to the real world alive and a full-fledged serial killer. He will play hitchhiker and go into a woman's car. He plays innocent long enough to take out a knife and kill her gruesomely. Later, he is playing the game Harvester on his computer, and his mother expresses concern that the game he's playing could make him violent. He just blows it off. As she leaves, she says something like "Why do you think people watch Roadrunner cartoons?" (See Looney Tunes) Steve says "Roadrunner cartoons? Roadrunner cartoons?" He gives an Evil Laugh, and we are treated to the sight of the inside of his stomach, where he evidently sliced off that woman's finger and swallowed it whole! Serious Squick! At least choosing to marry Stephanie essentially allows you to give the two scientists behind this sick project the finger. Although the two scientists did say about how they'll just make a serial killer the old-fashioned way...by giving him "good breeding", followed by the Evil Laugh.
- Easter Egg: Found during a Let's Play that was experimenting with curse words in the text parser. It turns out, asking Steve's mother to "FUCK" will cause her to seriously consider the offer.
- The End of the World as We Know It: You know the button that launches all those nukes? Maybe they shouldn't have put it directly under a mentally unstable torso-man with a recoil-heavy machine gun.
- Eye Scream: Cat-o-Nine Tails, plus mutant inbreed’s face, equals devastation.
- Fingore: A really nasty one occurs in the bad ending.
- Four-Star Badass: Colonel Buster Monroe. The bastard got his entire lower body shot off during WWII, so what did he do? He crawled all the way from Germany to England, stopping every few miles to wind his intestines back in. In any other game, that’d just be ludicrous; here, it’s par for the course.
- Fridge Brilliance: Look at all those horrible lessons and sociopathic philosophical musings delivered by characters in the Lodge! That's sick! It's the kind of thinking a serial killer would display! And that's exactly the goddamn point! Steve is being trained to become one.
- General Ripper: Colonel Monroe. Just try to piss him off.
- Gorn: There WERE a few genuinely chilling scenes, however.
- Infant Immortality: Steve's brother, Hank, cannot be killed no matter what. Subverted with Karin; killing her, though, collapses the plot and gives you an instant Game Over. You can also kill Jimmy the paper boy... if he doesn't kill you first.
- Steve's baby brother, while he can't be killed, eats a wasp and... other things happen...
- It's All Upstairs From Here: The Lodge mostly consists of killing everything in your way and climbing to the next floor.
- Large Ham: Appropriately enough, Mr. Pottsdam. “Meat! MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAT!”
- Moral Guardians: When it was released, one angry guardian claimed that one particular scene, involving the decapitation of an infant, was so horrifying that she literally could not believe it wasn't real. Yes. She believed the makers of Harvester murdered a baby.
- Murder Simulators: The town of Harvest is an in-game example of this.
- New Media Are Evil: Played for Laughs with Boyle, who blames television for the fall in mail circulation, and has already burned the local TV station down at least once. Played horrifyingly straight with the ending. The entire town of Harvest is a virtual reality game, meant to break Steve and turn him into an actual serial killer.
- Pet the Dog: Steve rescuing Karin from Mr. Pottsdam early in Day 3. Which makes the end of Day 5 all the worse.
- Real Men Eat Meat: Mr. Pottsdam subscribes to this philosophy. The only reason he’s marrying Stephanie off is so he can get a job with Steve’s dad’s meat plant. When that falls through, he offers Stephanie as a means of joining the Lodge, and tries to kill Steve. In a freezer. Full of meat. I’m sensing a pattern here…
- Refuge in Audacity / Refuge in Vulgarity: EVERYTHING! The whole point of this game was to piss off the Moral Guardians. IT SUCCEEDED.
- Sadist Teacher: The town’s school is staffed entirely by this. Hell, the Principal is the second-in-command at the Lodge.
“We don’t believe in ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child.’ A rod is too thin. But a baseball bat…”
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The whole game is an escalating series of these, culminating in Steve’s rescue of Stephanie.
- Signs of Disrepair: Edna-- scratch that, 'DNA'S DINER.'
Mr. Pittsdam: This town won't be the same without DNA's diner. Or DNA, for that matter.
- Stepford Smiler: Both Steve’s Mom and Mrs. Pottsdam.
- In fact, your mother, Stephanie's mother, and every other mother in the game are all played by the same actress, as though they had been mass produced.
- The Many Deaths of You
- Thriving Ghost Town: Played Straight. Harvest boasts a population of 51 -- and dropping.
- Title Drop: "You can't live in Harvest without being a Harvester."
- Tomato in the Mirror: Harvest isn’t real. It’s a VR program, shaped to destroy its victim’s will in the most efficient way possible.
- Town with a Dark Secret: The town of Harvest. It is clear from the get-go that Harvest is not a nice place to live, and nobody even tries to hide that. Despite this, it does contain a Dark Secret like you would not believe. The town of Harvest does not exist. It is just a virtual reality program that Steve and Stephanie were hooked up to. The entire program is a murder simulator and it is supposed to slowly and surely turn Steve into a Serial Killer. He can get out of the program...if he murders Stephanie and makes her Killed Off for Real.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can kill almost everyone. Hell, only a few even bother to fight back! And that’s not including all the killing Steve has to do…
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: If you kill anyone prior to entering the Lodge, Steve is arrested and executed immediately.
- There's actually a random element to this. Certain characters not essential to the plot can be killed, and whether or not Steve gets away with it seems to be random chance. Namely, there seems to be some percentage chance that killing the mortician will go unpunished.
- There's also a way to blackmail the sheriff, which results in a "Get Out of Jail Free" Card, which allows you to get away with killing a single NPC who isn't essential to the plot.
- Violence Discretion Shot: Parodied, as the only such shot in the whole game is used for a scene where the sheriff smacks his deputy with a rolled-up newspaper.
- Wide Open Sandbox: Steve can go anywhere in Harvest during the day, including places that have no actual bearing on the game itself. A few puzzles even allow for alternate solutions in this way.
- Womb Level: One of the least disturbing things Steve fights through in The Lodge.
- Would Hurt a Child: Steve. Very much so.
- Also... just about everyone in Harvest.
- You Bastard: If you actually enjoy Harvester at any point, you are a monster. The game itself tells you this, and it's trying to entertain you!.