The Comic Commish: Harvester

Hey all, welcome to a new season of The Comic Commish. There's a bit of pre-amble for this one, so sit tight:

Last year, and the year before it, I was fortunate enough to be gifted a premium membership by a good pal of mine, @omghisam. I don't have a whole lot of disposable income, and am fairly parsimonious besides, so this gesture was greatly appreciated. It helped me grow closer to the staff and the community here, and would eventually help cement my place as a moderator. As a mod, however, I no longer need the generous support of my friend. (Like the proverbial roadies, mods need full backstage access to do their jobs properly.) This left me with a quandary: do I continue The Comic Commish and continue to support those who have supported me, or do I simply find some other feature to occupy my time once every month?

I realized that, while the premium accounts were gifts, so too are a number of Steam games I've been given in the past. I still have a lot to make up to the magnanimous souls who thought enough about me to give me free shit, which is never something I take lightly. (Even if it is just @zombiepie trolling me with a 35 cent copy of Bad Rats.) From now until December, and two for this month (I slept on January's entry, my bad. I blame Lightning Returns), I'm going to create a Comic Commish for each game in a series of twelve gifts received from both present and past members of this community.

The format I'm using is both a mix of a Brief Jaunt and the usual MS Paint squiggles. The Brief Jaunt will cover the first few hours of the game, while the comics will attempt to prognosticate on where the story is heading.

January: Harvester

DigiFX Interactive's Harvester is a 1996 FMV-enhanced graphic adventure game, emphasis on the "graphic". Purpose-built to mess with moral crusaders and "games encourage violence in children" amateur psychiatrists, Harvester's a very gory and very silly satirical horror game that places the protagonist in an unusual small American town devoid of his memories. You might recognize the game from this Unprofessional Friday episode, briefly but memorably played by Vinny. It was gifted to me by palbert TeflonBilly.

Welcome to Harvester! This is what the game considers a useful tip. I think you just need a better caliber of friend.
Welcome to Harvester! This is what the game considers a useful tip. I think you just need a better caliber of friend.
Well, at least they're honest about their puzzle design.
Well, at least they're honest about their puzzle design.
So we're not told much when starting the game. You can explore your room (there's nothing there besides a quarter and a pen in your sock drawer), but we really need to find an NPC to get some info.
So we're not told much when starting the game. You can explore your room (there's nothing there besides a quarter and a pen in your sock drawer), but we really need to find an NPC to get some info.
The kid in the front room, Hank, is extremely unhelpful, glued as he is to his favorite TV show. Instead, we find our Stepford Wife of a mom baking thousands of cookies for a bake sale a week away. We also establish that Steve is an amnesiac.
The kid in the front room, Hank, is extremely unhelpful, glued as he is to his favorite TV show. Instead, we find our Stepford Wife of a mom baking thousands of cookies for a bake sale a week away. We also establish that Steve is an amnesiac.
She's, uh, an old-fashioned woman, our mother. She's also quite sinister, speaking of a Lodge in the center of town and an ominous
She's, uh, an old-fashioned woman, our mother. She's also quite sinister, speaking of a Lodge in the center of town and an ominous "blood drive". The sort that doesn't use needles...
In the corner is our adorable baby sister. The resolution on the FMV videos is, naturally enough, much smaller than the game's native 640x480. That's 1994 for you (the game was completed two years before its eventual release).
In the corner is our adorable baby sister. The resolution on the FMV videos is, naturally enough, much smaller than the game's native 640x480. That's 1994 for you (the game was completed two years before its eventual release).
Sis wastes no time inhaling a tarantula that fell into her crib. Bless! The mom is naturally aghast and asks that we take this whole bug infestation thing up with the mysterious
Sis wastes no time inhaling a tarantula that fell into her crib. Bless! The mom is naturally aghast and asks that we take this whole bug infestation thing up with the mysterious "wasp woman" down the road.
Just a regular suburban home, albeit with a single barred window. That's the room where our father resides, who is entirely inaccessible for the time being. All we know is that he
Just a regular suburban home, albeit with a single barred window. That's the room where our father resides, who is entirely inaccessible for the time being. All we know is that he "works with meat". Jimmy the Paperboy, incidentally, is not to be trifled with. Just give him what he wants, and don't try to punch him.
The town map. There's actually an intimidating number of places to check out, though not all of them are necessary for the current chapter (or, I've read, at all necessary to complete the game). The unmissable structure in the center of the town is the Lodge, home of the Order of the Harvest Moon, which every NPC insists you must join ASAP. Yeah, we'll get right on that.
The town map. There's actually an intimidating number of places to check out, though not all of them are necessary for the current chapter (or, I've read, at all necessary to complete the game). The unmissable structure in the center of the town is the Lodge, home of the Order of the Harvest Moon, which every NPC insists you must join ASAP. Yeah, we'll get right on that.
Here's the wasp woman, Tetsua Crumb. She doesn't offer much in the way of story, but she's mega way into sexy wasps.
Here's the wasp woman, Tetsua Crumb. She doesn't offer much in the way of story, but she's mega way into sexy wasps.
Mr. Johnson seems like a friendly enough guy.
Mr. Johnson seems like a friendly enough guy.
Nah, just kidding. He makes MRAs seem empathetic.
Nah, just kidding. He makes MRAs seem empathetic.
I think we're done talking to Mr. Johnson.
I think we're done talking to Mr. Johnson.
The Pottsdams are neighbors of ours, and we've been told a few times that their daughter, Stephanie, is our fiancee.
The Pottsdams are neighbors of ours, and we've been told a few times that their daughter, Stephanie, is our fiancee.
Mr Pottsdam is extremely dubious, even for this town. His chief interest appears to be meat.
Mr Pottsdam is extremely dubious, even for this town. His chief interest appears to be meat.
Conversely, Mrs Pottsdam seems normal enough (besides the whole
Conversely, Mrs Pottsdam seems normal enough (besides the whole "wedding at a funeral parlor" bit), but I can't help think she looks a lot like the actor playing "mom" with a different bouffant.
Whoa, okay, this is what happens if you look through a hole in the bathroom. This would be Stephanie, then. Also why is this hole here?
Whoa, okay, this is what happens if you look through a hole in the bathroom. This would be Stephanie, then. Also why is this hole here?
Stephanie, turns out, in a similar predicament as ourselves: she's lost her memory, and nothing about the town seems right to her. She also appears to be a foot taller than us, but that's just the weird scaling on our digitized sprite.
Stephanie, turns out, in a similar predicament as ourselves: she's lost her memory, and nothing about the town seems right to her. She also appears to be a foot taller than us, but that's just the weird scaling on our digitized sprite.
Stephanie's
Stephanie's "grounded", presumably because she tried to escape. We'll probably have to find a way out for both of us. Unfortunately, it's looking like the Lodge is the only option.
Man, is everyone in this damn town obsessed with wieners? This is Mrs Phelps, the General Store owner.
Man, is everyone in this damn town obsessed with wieners? This is Mrs Phelps, the General Store owner.
With our measly quarter, the only thing we can afford is the porno mag. We're given a pretty strong hint about whom we might have to give this to. Well, it is the first day. (Also worth nothing: the copier in the corner is free, and we might need it to produce some blackmail material in the future...)
With our measly quarter, the only thing we can afford is the porno mag. We're given a pretty strong hint about whom we might have to give this to. Well, it is the first day. (Also worth nothing: the copier in the corner is free, and we might need it to produce some blackmail material in the future...)
Postmaster Boyle is the only source of Lodge applications in the town, something I'll need if I want to complete the first part of the game. He ain't budging, so we'll have to keep looking elsewhere. The blind woman in the corner is attempting to read mail through sheer force of will.
Postmaster Boyle is the only source of Lodge applications in the town, something I'll need if I want to complete the first part of the game. He ain't budging, so we'll have to keep looking elsewhere. The blind woman in the corner is attempting to read mail through sheer force of will.
The local barbershop has a trio of eccentrics. The owner, Mr Pastorelli, cannot speak English and thus isn't an NPC you can converse with. The little person is Pete Swell, a pragmatic aluminium siding salesman and plumber.
The local barbershop has a trio of eccentrics. The owner, Mr Pastorelli, cannot speak English and thus isn't an NPC you can converse with. The little person is Pete Swell, a pragmatic aluminium siding salesman and plumber.
Clem Parsons, meanwhile, is a generic yokel who has taken up hunting aliens.
Clem Parsons, meanwhile, is a generic yokel who has taken up hunting aliens.
Not in the Arizona border patrol sense, either. Apparently these little guys are all over the forest near the missile base. Wait, missile base?
Not in the Arizona border patrol sense, either. Apparently these little guys are all over the forest near the missile base. Wait, missile base?
Yep, Harvest has one of those too. These are all ICBMs and the only person guarding them is this guy, Colonel Buster Monroe.
Yep, Harvest has one of those too. These are all ICBMs and the only person guarding them is this guy, Colonel Buster Monroe.
The good Colonel is, as you can see, half the man he used to be. He keeps the nuclear launch button on his belt, and will accidentally trigger it if you annoy him in any way. He'll also blow a hole through your head first. Don't ask him about commies.
The good Colonel is, as you can see, half the man he used to be. He keeps the nuclear launch button on his belt, and will accidentally trigger it if you annoy him in any way. He'll also blow a hole through your head first. Don't ask him about commies.
Don't ask about any of those things, either. In fact? Probably best not to engage with him at all.
Don't ask about any of those things, either. In fact? Probably best not to engage with him at all.
Talking of things I wish I hadn't interacted with, here's the meat plant, owned by our father. Here's an early spoiler: that isn't beef back there.
Talking of things I wish I hadn't interacted with, here's the meat plant, owned by our father. Here's an early spoiler: that isn't beef back there.
The Gein Memorial School, classily named for Ed Gein the serial killer, is where Harvest's kids go to get an education.
The Gein Memorial School, classily named for Ed Gein the serial killer, is where Harvest's kids go to get an education.
Well, an education, and to get the crap beaten out of them on a regular basis.
Well, an education, and to get the crap beaten out of them on a regular basis.
In fact, the game decides to show you with a fire drill followed by a swift pummeling of a random schoolkid.
In fact, the game decides to show you with a fire drill followed by a swift pummeling of a random schoolkid.
Leaving the violence at school where it belongs, we move to the TV Station where there's even more violence happening. The Range Ryder Show, the favored entertainment form for our brother Hank, is presented by this square-jawed psychopath. Has a point, though.
Leaving the violence at school where it belongs, we move to the TV Station where there's even more violence happening. The Range Ryder Show, the favored entertainment form for our brother Hank, is presented by this square-jawed psychopath. Has a point, though.
We're apparently interrupting a scene here where Range Ryder sticks his entire leg through an extra.
We're apparently interrupting a scene here where Range Ryder sticks his entire leg through an extra.
I think this guy might be my favorite NPC so far.
I think this guy might be my favorite NPC so far.
Edna of DNA's Diner (actually just Edna's Diner, but the neon lights for the E have gone out) seems like a real down-to-earth lady. She has a daughter too, Karin. I bet nothing horrible happens to her.
Edna of DNA's Diner (actually just Edna's Diner, but the neon lights for the E have gone out) seems like a real down-to-earth lady. She has a daughter too, Karin. I bet nothing horrible happens to her.
I finally decide to visit the Lodge in the center of town, and am reminded that I still need to get that application form. The nameless Sergeant of Arms here communicates entirely by growly telepathy. Sure, why not.
I finally decide to visit the Lodge in the center of town, and am reminded that I still need to get that application form. The nameless Sergeant of Arms here communicates entirely by growly telepathy. Sure, why not.
The newspaper building... isn't. It got burned down a few months ago. But we can visit its burned out husk, if we want?
The newspaper building... isn't. It got burned down a few months ago. But we can visit its burned out husk, if we want?
The ineffective fire station, situated directly adjacent to the incinerated publisher, is staffed entirely by... well, imagine an entire firefighter squad of Shadow Kanjis. I can't tell if this is the developer's idea of
The ineffective fire station, situated directly adjacent to the incinerated publisher, is staffed entirely by... well, imagine an entire firefighter squad of Shadow Kanjis. I can't tell if this is the developer's idea of "lol the gays" humor, or if it has something to do with how oddly stereotypical most of the rest of the town is. Almost like nothing is real.
I was fairly sure I wasn't going to like the local mortician, and I was right. Like TotalBiscuit, he wears a top hat and is kind of a butt.
I was fairly sure I wasn't going to like the local mortician, and I was right. Like TotalBiscuit, he wears a top hat and is kind of a butt.
Also, I guess he's the proprietor of the hotel too. Major hints that the bums and hobos that roll in get murdered here and chopped up in the Mortuary. Some real
Also, I guess he's the proprietor of the hotel too. Major hints that the bums and hobos that roll in get murdered here and chopped up in the Mortuary. Some real "Hot Fuzz" overtones here.
The graveyard's not particularly interesting, but for this mausoleum that looks like a leftover model from Myst. No doubt we won't be going in there until way later in the game.
The graveyard's not particularly interesting, but for this mausoleum that looks like a leftover model from Myst. No doubt we won't be going in there until way later in the game.
Finally, there's the local police precinct. The Sheriff's a sly one, but his Barney Fife deputy doesn't seem quite as sharp.
Finally, there's the local police precinct. The Sheriff's a sly one, but his Barney Fife deputy doesn't seem quite as sharp.
In fact, he's yet another potential rapist. This town is lousy with them. Fortunately, that means he can be easily convinced to wander off with that porn I bought earlier.
In fact, he's yet another potential rapist. This town is lousy with them. Fortunately, that means he can be easily convinced to wander off with that porn I bought earlier.
With the Sheriff out to lunch at Edna's, and Loomis... distracted, I can rifle through the Sheriff's desk for blackmail material and the key to the evidence room.
With the Sheriff out to lunch at Edna's, and Loomis... distracted, I can rifle through the Sheriff's desk for blackmail material and the key to the evidence room.
The Sheriff comes back to find Loomis entertaining himself in the cells. The only time the game chooses to shy away from showing us violence is when the Sheriff whacks him with a newspaper in a silhouette. The game has an odd sense of when to be discreet, so far.
The Sheriff comes back to find Loomis entertaining himself in the cells. The only time the game chooses to shy away from showing us violence is when the Sheriff whacks him with a newspaper in a silhouette. The game has an odd sense of when to be discreet, so far.
That blackmail material? Turns out Postmaster Boyle has been paying the Sheriff to keep him quiet about possibly burning down the newspaper building. We put him on the spot with our evidence, and then hand him the incriminating gas can found in the evidence room. Voila, the application form we needed. I'm sure this won't lead to anything unfortunate.
That blackmail material? Turns out Postmaster Boyle has been paying the Sheriff to keep him quiet about possibly burning down the newspaper building. We put him on the spot with our evidence, and then hand him the incriminating gas can found in the evidence room. Voila, the application form we needed. I'm sure this won't lead to anything unfortunate.
I have no idea if I'm even meant to be able to read this form. It doesn't seem like your standard questionnaire. I mean, the first question is asking how often I eat meat a day. This town loves its meat.
I have no idea if I'm even meant to be able to read this form. It doesn't seem like your standard questionnaire. I mean, the first question is asking how often I eat meat a day. This town loves its meat.
We're finally on the way to getting into the Lodge. And with that, the first day draws to a close.
We're finally on the way to getting into the Lodge. And with that, the first day draws to a close.
Steve rests easily. This is just what he usually sees whenever he closes his eyes.
Steve rests easily. This is just what he usually sees whenever he closes his eyes.

Harvester is an odd adventure game, and I don't just mean the messed up story and characters. You're on an invisible timer of sorts, there's combat, there's lots of ways to die prematurely (so save often!), and you can punch and kill anyone in the game. If they're with other NPCs, you're immediately arrested and sent to the chair, though if they're alone there's a chance (not a certain one) that you'll get away with it. You can also commit minor crimes, which simply uses up one of your three "strikes" and moves time ahead to the following day. I have no idea if you're still able to complete the game at that point, as we've been told that the marriage, the bake sale and the "blood drive" all occur at some point in a week's time. I imagine we need to get into the Lodge before that happens.

That segues to what the rest of the game appears to involve: the Lodge, on the following day, gives us a slightly more antisocial task to perform. It's simply petty vandalism, but they'll get more severe and criminal as we continue. We aren't told of any alternative, so I think the game's simply prodding the player to see what they're capable.

I haven't got far enough into the game yet to know precisely where it's going, but here's three guesses:

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Mento

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Excuse the dead images. They're still there, just need to click them to see them. (The site's had no end of image issues of late.)

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ArbitraryWater

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Oh boy. THIS GAME. I watched retsuprae's video of it and it's really something else.