It’s often difficult or near impossible to avoid coverage of games prior to their release. Consequently, players will often have preconceived notions about what they’re going to experience prior to playing; sometimes this is a good thing, but the weight of expectation can sometimes lead to disappointment.
That certainly wasn’t the case with new Nintendo Switch indie title, Cellular Harvest. When publisher Apriori Digital got in touch and asked me if I’d like to cover the game, they told me nothing about it – except to say that it was a bit weird, but they thought it’d be up my street.
In both cases, they were absolutely correct.
Cellular Harvest is a strange game; it has an oddly relaxing, almost therapeutic ambience – helped along by a stunningly atmospheric downtempo soundtrack that recalls the mid-90s ambient electronica by artists such as Aphex Twin. The mid-90s vibe is further reinforced by the deliberately lo-fi visuals, making the game look as if it’s been made for the early 3D capabilities of the original PlayStation.
The game casts you in the role of an Auditor, tasked with discovering and taking photos of very bizarre alien life forms on distant planets. Once you’ve collected information on at least three quarters of the life on the planet, you can move on to another – such is your job as an Auditor, it seems.
It’s an intentionally short experience – it shouldn’t take more than an hour or so to reach the goal of cataloguing the very bizarre, but thankfully harmless, alien creatures and being ready to move on – but it’s incredibly absorbing while it lasts, with the aforementioned soundtrack really lulling the player into a soothingly rhythmic gameplay loop of exploration and photography.
There are two ‘editions’ of the game to choose from, with the only difference between ‘Green’ and ‘Purple’ being the time of day they take place in. I’m a little baffled by the ending, but in the case of Cellular Harvest, the experience is most certainly felt throughout the journey, rather than at its destination.
Also available on PC via Steam and itch.io, Cellular Harvest is a unique, bite-sized experience created by a tiny team – developed by Nate Berens and written by Xalavier Nelson Jr. – that defies easy explanation and definitely benefits from knowing as little about it as possible before you embark on your journey. It’s great to see Apriori Digital pick it up to be published on Switch, as it definitely deserves a wider audience.
Many thanks to Apriori Digital for providing me with a Cellular Harvest key for review purposes. Cellular Harvest is available now on Nintendo Switch.
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