It took several years and $2.5 million, but the day has finally come: Hiveswap, the Homestuck adventure game, is on Steam. With numerous setbacks in the past and changes in design, how well did it turn out?
First thing to note is how the game is rated 10+. Though there is mild swearing, it certainly isn’t up to par with such classic curses such as “boy shitting howdy” and “shitsponge”. In this case, the only way future instalments could get away with using harsher language is to use alien vocabulary like “IT’S GOING TO FONDLE MAJOR SEEDFLAP”.
The beginning of the story is simple, much like the comic it was based off of. However, instead of it starting off with a young man in his bedroom, it’s about a young girl holed up in her room because there are otherworldly abominations with green mouths plaguing the house. You’ll have to click on everything to find out more about Joey, a young girl torn towards being a dancer and a vet, and her relationship with her huntsman father. You’ll also be introduced to her younger brother Jude, the conspiracy theorist with a decked-out treehouse and a serious attitude towards walkie-talkie etiquette. While exploring the home of our main character, you will see some familiar faces from the internet-famous webcomic and decorations involving blue women.
While searching through Joey’s room, it’s refreshing to see what classic games the young teen was into. Like the creator of Homestuck, she is a fan of Mother 2. Sorry, I meant to say Second Mom. On a different note, Bubsy’s glorious face can be seen plastered to the wall. It’s quite unfortunate for the cartoon cat that the main character we’re looking at has quite a hatred for him. Whether it’s a simple (yet different) nod to the franchise or a sneaky way for the programmer to voice their opinion on the recently-resurrected feline, at least he hasn’t been forgotten.
At certain points, combat will be essential. Fortunately, there are no HP bars: it’s just you, the enemy, and all the items you have at your disposal. It can take some time to figure out what needs doing, but there’s no serious consequences for doing the wrong thing unless wasting some time is that dire to you. In some cases, you’ll need to look around and search for items that will aid you in your mighty quest to not get eaten.
The art style is what ties it all together in a bow. The characters are simplistic and in block colour, much like the characters of Homestuck. Similarly to the comic, it has detailed backgrounds that make you question “how much time went into making this hallway?” and “where did these children get the money to buy so much takeaway and toys?”. Compared to Homestuck’s cutscenes, it’s certainly a great improvement. The partially-animated ones retain the feeling of one of the pages in the sense that there is animation but not a lot. The fully-animated ones, however, blow some of the more memorable Flash animations out of the water.
The music was composed by wonder duo James Roach and Toby Fox, notable musicians for Homestuck. Though a large bulk of his work was sound design, it’s quite clear that Roach’s musical skills shined brightly. If you enjoy catchy music that also has atmosphere and ska mixed in, I recommend you seek out the soundtrack. Sure it’s a little bit extra, but it’s definitely worth it for all 30 songs. And if that’s not enough, there’s a small album by a band that exists in the Hiveswap universe.
The most noticeable “issue” is that the hint button doesn’t work at all. If anything, it’s telling you to figure things out for yourself. If you grew up playing point-and-click games, this isn’t a problem for you; if you didn’t, then keep clicking things until something clicks in your mind. The flavour text certainly is amusing at times.
If you enjoy exploration, have wide music tastes, and are a sucker for top-quality animation and art, then it is highly suggested that you take a look at Hiveswap.
Hiveswap is available here.
Hiveswap’s challenge lies in using your head and experimenting. It took its time to come out, but the wait was worth it for such captivating art and music.
Review copy purchased