Absolutely Terrible Game Even Compared to Average Titles
I've bought a lot of games from under-the-radar developers and am rarely disappointed, so I took a risk on Shadow Harvest. In general if a game is a shooter, RPG or stealth game I will like it. I was especially interested in the stealth portion of Shadow Harvest since that genre is criminally underrepresented today, the last real stealth game I know of being Velvet Assassin, which was average at best. So I bought Shadow Harvest and installed it (it uses Steamworks), ready to give it a fair shake.
What you will notice right away is that Shadow Harvest is ugly and also runs like crap. I have a GTX 480 and an Intel quad core processor (the Q9550). My rig runs Crysis at 50fps on highest settings, it runs Crysis 2 at a locked 60fps. Shadow Harvest on max settings runs at about 15fps, maybe 20, with dips into the single digits. This is not an anomaly with my machine, the Steam forums and other places report the same performance. Putting the settings down to medium and even low does little to help; I even tried 720p on all lowest settings and ended up with 25-30fps. To put it bluntly Shadow Harvest is the most demanding PC game I have ever played, and it looks like a 6 year old console game. For one thing the bloom is out of control, for another there is no real AA and tons of pop-in. Past that the models, textures and general design is bland and simplistic. It's absolutely laughable the game looks like it does and performs like it does.
Moving past graphics we have the gameplay itself. In Shadow Harvest you play a typical army macho man for third-person cover-based shooting sections and a Catwoman-style stealth chick for sneaky missions (either or, at your discretion). The shooting segments are very rough and unpolished, not only because the abysmal framerate makes aiming hard but also because the cover-system is all about walking up to walls and having it put you into cover automatically. As any first year programming student could probably tell you, this leads to the aggravating effect of you accidentally sticking to every wall or piece of environment you walk near. The shooting is also hampered by the fact that when in cover you need to hold a direction key to peek out, then also hold RMB to aim, making cover a three-step process instead of two, which is just bad design. The action is simple (shoot dudes! flank dudes! shoot barrels!) and there are glitches abound like floating weapons and checkpoints which don't update.
On the stealth side the game is a little better but still not good at all. Stealth is mostly helped by not having to aim as much and the slower pace, but the game still has the same problems. Dark areas are too dark, making moving around sometimes a hassle. The levels are mostly designed to work for stealth or shooting, making it lack a real polished design for one kind of gameplay. The crossbow is not satisfying to use and you have no other ranged weapons.
On top of graphics and gameplay issues the game is just very poorly presented. The cutscenes are boring, nothing happens in them. Voice acting is some of the worst I have ever heard in a game, much worse than German or Russian games I have played that got quick conversions to English like STALKER or Risen. There is a guy that is supposed to be African in the very first level who literally sounds like a drunken frat boy making fun of Africans more than an authentic African. The game also suffers from a lot of console influences, despite being a PC exclusive. Checkpoint saves, cumbersome menus, the massive bloom I mentioned earlier, limited weapon capacity and more. It just screams amateur hour all through the game.
I like "bad" games a lot of the time. I liked Darkest of Days, Blacksite: Area 51, Sniper: Ghost Warrior, Jericho, Mercenaries 2, Damnation and more... below average games that I still enjoyed because they were shooters and they worked. Shadow Harvest is terrible even compared to these games. The only game I see on my shelf that I could say is as bad as Shadow Harvest is maybe Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, but even that game I would say is better than this one solely because it works and performs fine. Shadow Harvest is bad compared to Velvet Assassin... compared to Splinter Cell or Thief it is downright atrocious. I don't write bad reviews on amazon for fun, you can look at my review history and see I am pretty lenient and accepting of flaws. Shadow Harvest is a terrible game and I very much regret the $30 I spent on it. DON'T MAKE MY MISTAKE!