Shadow Harvest is set in the year 2025. The player takes control over two ISA agents (Myra Lee and Aron Alvarez) which are are deployed as elite black-ops agents on various current and future points of conflict around the globe to cooperatively complete covert operations. Both characters are very different from each other and also have very different special skills. To optimally achieve all mission goals, the player needs to combine Myra's stealth skills, cleverness and athletic abilities with Aron's blunt open battle approach.
Developer’s Diary #1: The Locations of Shadow Harvest: Phantom Ops
The game’s backstory is based in the year 2025. We chose the not-too-distant future for our timeline, because it allows us to be creative in many ways a game about contemporary problems wouldn't. Conversely, the fact that it's so close to our own time tethers the game to reality - not allowing us to get too fantastical. We only use technology that is currently being researched and developed in 2010, helping us to maintain a believable storyline. It’s a nice balance.
The storyline, a horrific arms race exacerbated by dwindling resources and global unrest, helps to steer the specifics of the game, especially the locales. One of the increasing trends of the past few decades is the proliferation of piracy, a problem we don’t foresee improving in the decades to come, and so we use this prediction to help tell a story that is both politically relevant and also fun for gamers.
For instance, Somalia is currently a hotspot for piracy and was the most logical place to set Shadow Harvest: Phantom Ops. It plays a significant part in the game, since it's prone to civil wars and horrible violence.
Location 1: Mogadishu, Somalia
Mogadishu is probably an appealing and attractive place only to gamers and game designers. The city was recently elected the most dangerous place on Earth by CNN. If you are arriving on a plane in Mogadishu, you are asked to fill out a form by customs detailing your name, address and the caliber of gun you carry (this is not a joke).
Because of the dangers and lawlessness of this place, we thought it to be a great choice for hosting an action game.
Like any city, Mogadishu is broken down into neighborhoods: there are the city’s outskirts with their tiny, rather provisory appearing accommodations, and where the majority of the population has tried to rescue itself from the reams of hand grenades exploding everyday in the city’s center.
The center of Mogadishu, on the one hand, is a bit apocalyptic with all its destroyed skyscrapers and internecine conflicts. We set up a fictitious government quarter in the Mogadishu of 2025, where the current dictator settled down and the scars of civil war are reopened daily.
Gamers will see every bit of this Mogadishu, from the bazaars on the outskirts, to the city’s destructive center, up to the palace of the government.
Location 2: Dubai, UAE
Whenever there are people profiting from piracy, they’ll invest their newfound money into projects. In our story, warlords and dictators invest their money into the expansion of their armories, creating a great surge in demand for greater and more technologically sounds weapons.
In 2025, warlords no longer have AK-47s on their wish lists. Instead, they seek out camouflaged technology and other high-tech equipment for their militia. And as the armaments industry always keeps up with the demands of the black market, 2025 is witness to great innovations in weaponry. Shadow Harvest: Phantom Ops takes full advantage of this.
Dubai, as is true in 2010, is still an epicenter for the rich and the famous. After having made fortunes from a prospering illegal arms trade, these warlords have moved and made their headquarters in this lavish city. But they’ve also brought their crimes and corruption with them.
In Shadow Harvest: Phantom Ops, the gamer explores all the areas of Dubai's beautiful coast. The gamer gets to see all the decadent locales: the skyscrapers as well as the offices, the HeliPads and the marina.
Location 3: Havana, Cuba
In our imagination, Cuba is a potential environment for future conflicts, and all kinds of civil war scenarios! By 2025, it’s safe to assume Fidel Castro no longer has a stranglehold over Cuba, resulting in a horrible, cruel civil war. Much debate over the future of Cuban politics rages throughout the country, often between those who are sympathetic to communism and those who are sympathetic to a democracy.
This battle between two political/economical ideologies means that Cuba is a real paradise for the arms trade – particularly in regards to explosives and for the sheer fact that Cuba’s coastline is so close to Florida.
The gamer gets to see the historic center of La Habana and the picturesque coastline of Cuba.
Featuring dual character control, realistic graphics and a refreshingly different storyline, Shadow Harvest is a completely new interpretation of the tactical-action genre. Being an ISA agent, the first character, Myra Lee, has a background in espionage and stealth operations, while the other character, Aron Alvarez, is a hard-boiled close combat specialist of US Army's Delta Force. Both characters are deployed as elite black-ops agents on various hot spots worldwide and behind enemy lines to cooperatively complete covert operations.
The plot of the game is highly inspired by the activities of the US army special operations unit ISA (Intelligence Support Activity), but despite its highly detailed and realistic look, Shadow Harvest does not strive to be a hardcore military sim nor does it want to be just another "dual-character-shooter". Besides being a fast-paced tatical action game when playing with Aron, Shadow Harvest also features real stealth and action-adventure elements when playing with Myra. Its refreshingly new mix of features allows new possibilities in interactive storytelling and lets the player dive deep into a thrilling storyline in an immersive and unique gaming experience.
To optimally achieve all mission goals, the player needs to combine Myra's stealth skills, athletic abilities and cleverness with Aron's blunt open battle approach. In many situations the nail biting about whether to go in hot with guns blazing or to use suppression techniques and alternative paths is up to the player. Thanks to its open level design with multi-paths and optional secondary objectives, Shadow Harvest also offers great replayability
With Myra and Aron having a different style, a totally different approach on combat tactics and (obviously) a different gender, one big focus of the game are the witty yet snorty dialogues between the two agents.
Despite its highly detailled and realistic look, Shadow Harvest does not strive to be a hardcore military sim nor does it want to be just another dual-character-shooter. Featuring real stealth and action-adventure elements, its refreshingly new mix of features allows never before seen possibilities in interactive storytelling and lets the player dive into a highly thrilling storyline in an unforgettable immersive and unique gaming experience.
Shadow Harvest is named after a codename for a fictional direct action division of the top secret US Army Special Operations Unit ISA (Intelligence Support Activity). Operating under various codenames (Centra Spike, Torn Victor, Grantor Shadow etc.), the ISA is perhaps the least known and most classified unit within the realm of US special operations. Its existence is denied by the US government. However, over the years various documents and reports became available which gave an insight into how the ISA is structured and into its past and current operations.
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