Iron Harvest is set to be the biggest RTS of the year. It brings a fascinating world full of industrial machinations, steampunk soldiers, and international conflict to the genre. But it wasn’t always a video game. This is only the latest in a number of different forms the World of 1920+ has taken.
Most RTS fans likely learned about Iron Harvest when it was revealed in 2016 by game developers King Art Games. In the following years, the project would go through a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over 1.5 million dollars for funding. Originally set to release in 2019, the game was delayed to 2020 while a publisher for the title was established.
So What IS The World of 1920+
But if it didn’t start here, where did it begin? Iron Harvest is based on the “World of 1920+,” an alternate universe concept created by Polish artist Jakub Różalski.
Depending on where you live, it’s easy to misinterpret the inspiration behind The World of 1920+. Americans might mix it up with World War I, for example. In actuality, the world is based on the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1920. (World War I ended in 1918, after all). This was a tremendously influential War for Europe, particularly lands like Poland, who had established independence only two years earlier. Despite its prolific nature, it’s not commonly taught about and stays relatively unknown in western nations.
Unlike the real Polish-Bolshevik War, The World of 1920+ experienced a further degree of industrial advancements. Deep in the Industrial Revolution era, and with an arms race in full force, development toward machine-based combat skyrocketed. Now giant walking machines dominate the battlefield and loom over the various villages and towns in high-conflict areas. While impressive, they’re still limited by their time. They’re large, unrefined, but powerful. With designs similar to tanks, each machine seen on the battlefield holds unique bodies and abilities, depending on the nation that forged them.
Much of the world here is focused not on the bustling cities and areas, but more on the less populated countrysides and rural zones. People here have seen little change from the industrial boom. Only the war machines have expanded out this far. Having no impact on their daily work, acting as sentinels for potential invasion, the locals have grown accustomed to their presence.Man-made technology has expanded out into the natural world. Creating this strong contrast is a major aspect to what makes this world feel unique.
Many aspects of the world mirror real world concepts and locations. Everything takes place in the continent of Europa, an alternate universe version of Europe, for example. The World of 1920+ also experienced their own World War I, known as the Great War.
The various nations in the World of 1920+ are primarily represented with the three playable factions within Iron Harvest: the Polania Republic, the Rusviet Union, and the Saxony Empire.
The Polania Republic is one of the more neutral nations. With a long history and a prosperous agricultural standing, they mostly want to maintain their nation and avoid conflict. They didn’t initialize a program to modernize their army until most of the nation was already occupied by Rusviet forces. This mindset can be seen in their military methods, focusing on calculated attacks that target weak spots and take advantage of their lower numbers. A careful eye might also notice some left over farming tools being integrated into their mechs. They are likely inspired by Poland, sharing many similarities with the real world nation.
The Rusviet Union, sometimes called the Rusviet, is another faction within the game world. The nation can be compared to a chained bear, in a way. While massive and strong, the Rusviet people are worn out, hungry, and at a state of unrest. While the locals grow frustrated, a man named Grigori Rasputin has been growing in power, stoking the flames of revolution. Their military takes advantage of their large population and diverse variety of soldiers to overwhelm their enemies. This nation is likely based on Russia, known as the Soviet Union at the time.
The Saxony Empire is the third playable faction. The most developed nation, they are a strong influence to all nations in Europa. While industrially advanced, the local people are in a state of discontent, having to abide by the conditions of surrender after losing the great war. The Empire’s military relies on their advanced technology and refined machines to win their wars. Slow but unrelenting, they’re difficult to stop once they gain momentum. The nation is likely inspired by Germany, or possibly Austria-Hungary, which shares a number of similar qualities.
How It All Began
The World of 1920+ gained popularity after an article by Kotaku spotlighting the artist was published in 2014. This led to Różalski receiving a number of offers. One of them was from Jamey Stegmaier, the top dog at Stonemaier Games. They offered to develop a board game based on the World of 1920+. This would eventually become Scythe. Later on, Różalski would agree to a video game adaption, leading to Iron Harvest.
Scythe was the first example of 1920+ being “gamified.” A physical board game, it actually bears a number of similarities with the traditional RTS game. Multiplayer-based, each player must manage their resources and take advantage of their faction’s abilities to expand and gain control of the land. They can enlist recruits, build mechs and structures, and more.
Unlike most board games, Scythe steps away from having rounds or phases in favor of an action-selection mechanic. This keeps the gaming moving at a better pace. Unlike most RTS games, Scythe doesn’t have traditional combat, either. Players cannot be eliminated and units cannot be killed or destroyed.
What Sets Iron Harvest Apart
Iron Harvest draws on both the original World of 1920+ and the lore established in the Scythe board game. But it sets itself apart from these in two major ways.
The first way is inherent to the RTS nature. Everything is happening at a constant rate, instead of on a turn based system. How quickly you can build an army is as vital to success as how good your army is. The arms race aspect of the world can be felt at its maximum potential in this format.
The second way is that, for the first time, there’s an expanded story experience available. Iron Harvest boasts three different single-player campaigns, each with an overarching story. Players will be able to experience the world and it’s lore first-hand.
Iron Harvest is available now on PC (Steam/EGS), Xbox One, and Playstation 4 for $49.99. The Deluxe Edition is available for $69.89. More information about the game can be found on the official website.
This article is sponsored by Deep Silver