In September 2012, writer-illustrator Andrew Hussie – the person behind the long-running, prolonged and well-liked Homestuck webcomic sequence – introduced a Kickstarter challenge, to boost funds for a online game set in his universe. It hit the $700,000 (about Rs. four.48 crores) funding objective in lower than two days, and had amassed over $2.four million (about Rs. 15.37 crores) by the point the Kickstarter closed, making it probably the most profitable comic-related marketing campaign of all time.
But it bumped into some issues, like many different main crowdfunding initiatives. The point-and-click journey Homestuck recreation didn’t ship on time, lacking its supposed launch interval a number of occasions. By June 2014, the unique launch date put forth in 2012, it didn’t actually have a title. Instead, Hussie introduced that growth was transferring from an outdoor studio to the illustrator’s in-house firm, What Pumpkin.
In October that 12 months, the sport bought a reputation, Hiveswap, together with the information that there can be two episodic video games (the aforementioned Hiveswap, and a second one referred to as Hauntswitch), which might have parallels between them, however could possibly be performed in both order, along with your saved video games carried over. More than a 12 months later, Hussie posted an replace saying it was transferring away from the 3D graphics proven within the Kickstarter teaser, to a 2D system, for cost-efficiency and faster manufacturing schedule.
Last 12 months, a brand new launch date was introduced: January 2017; a date the sport clearly missed. Things modified just a bit over two weeks in the past, with Hussie marking September 14 because the launch date for the primary of two episodes. This time the developer is conserving its phrase, with Hiveswap: Act 1 now out there for Windows and macOS.
The recreation is about on this planet of Homestuck, however it has its personal characters, and a storyline that’s solely loosely tied to the comics. You start your journey as a teen in 1994 named Joey Claire, the elder sister of a nerdy boy referred to as Jude Harley. The distinction is final names is owing to the demise of their mom, with Joey adopting her maiden title in her reminiscence. Their father, described as a person who likes taking pictures and stuffing animals, isn’t at residence.
What begins as a quaint day within the yard of their sprawling mansion turns into creepy horror minutes later when a serpent-like monster exhibits up out of nowhere, chasing Joey into her room upstairs, whereas Jude escapes to his geeky treehouse. More monsters – every with a hideous inexperienced eye – present up later including to your troubles.
Stuck in your room, you have to determine a solution to contact your brother, and the best way to survive the day. Being a point-and-click journey, gameplay in Hiveswap largely consists of observing your atmosphere, and clicking objects to determine if you are able to do something with them. In different phrases, transferring your mouse round till it modifications right into a hand cursor.
While most gadgets have a “look” possibility, some could be opened, searched, or fiddled with. This lets you receive issues it is advisable to progress in-game, be it taking out batteries out of a busted radio to place them in a flashlight, or getting milk out of a fridge to serve it to a “deercat”, a fictional monster that Joey meets on an alien planet later within the recreation.
The puzzles additionally lengthen to keenly studying or choosing up clues on sheets of paper in your instant environment, after which utilizing these to determine your subsequent transfer. But these puzzles are hardly ever ever advanced, and you will not seemingly be scratching your mind at any second in the course of the first act of Hiveswap. If something, we had been left wishing that options weren’t at all times as apparent as they appeared, because the 90s point-and-click video games Hiveswap is predicated on had been famend for his or her convoluted logic.
And then there are the sport’s fight sections – Hiveswap calls these “strife” – that are triggered everytime you come throughout a monster. Except they do not resemble fight within the conventional sense, as you may be tasked with determining a solution to escape your precarious state of affairs, which makes them one other sort of puzzle actually. They might include tap-dancing and ballet (Joey likes to bop), or throwing treats or kitchen spices to distract a monster.
Comic first, recreation second
Hiveswap advantages from Hussie’s expertise as an illustrator, and the sport’s backgrounds are vibrant, vibrant, and wealthy intimately. And Undertale developer Toby Fox has contributed to the sport’s music (as a result of Hussie has labored with him earlier than on Homestuck), which provides to the ambiance of creepiness in components.
On the story entrance, there are positively some attention-grabbing nuggets of thriller and intrigue – on the centre of which is a portal that causes Joey and an unseen alien troll, who can be seen in Hauntswitch, to swap locations – however it takes too lengthy to get there. For what it is value, it is bolstered by the type of self-aware and self-referential dialogue that Hussie has proven with Homestuck, although that can also get tedious.
The greater drawback although is that Hiveswap suffers from a horrible imbalance on practically each entrance, be it the artwork, music, or gameplay. While all the pieces is brightly colored, the central protagonist Joey wears solely gray and black, and her face is totally white. Yes, it is likely to be in line with the webcomic’s look, however that does not make it interesting. The facial animations have their very own points, with the expressions not at all times equivalent to the state of affairs the characters discover themselves in.
Moreover, whereas most issues are drawn in a contemporary model, others are pixelated as a homage to Eight-bit years, which creates a somewhat jarring expertise. It’s potential that the sport’s change from 3D to 2D had one thing to do with this, and it is available in the way in which of Hiveswap coming throughout as a “love letter to 90s adventure games”, when in comparison with different video games resembling Thimbleweed Park, whose full retro tilt made you’re feeling proper at residence.
Meanwhile, the sport’s music is organised into collections relying on what room you are at present in, somewhat than what part of the sport you are taking part in. While which may work in an open-world situation, it finally ends up being disorienting in a serialised story like Hiveswap, as you are by no means fairly positive what temper it is making an attempt to create. The recreation additionally suffers from horrible sound transitions, as moments of gameplay that intercut with cutscenes are devoid of any cohesion.
All these troubles contribute in the direction of what looks like a unpolished expertise, or one which’s been cobbled along with no central imaginative and prescient. It nearly looks like Hussie story-boarded your complete recreation as if he had been making every other Homestuck comedian, after which requested recreation builders to sew it collectively to create Hiveswap.
That’s along with the sport’s technical troubles, which incorporates no autosave operate, the dearth of keyboard help, and help for 16:9 resolutions solely. In 2017, these are unacceptable compromises, probably the most egregious of which is the primary. During our first playthrough, we assumed that Hiveswap would naturally have autosave, solely to return the subsequent day to seek out out our progress had disappeared.
Ultimately, Hiveswap is a let-down for followers of point-and-click journey video games, however way more so for followers of Homestuck, particularly for those who contributed the hundreds of thousands that went in the direction of its making. Some will simply be pleased with one other addition of their beloved universe, however Hussie’s latest creation is not only a far cry from its preliminary promise – it is also not pleasurable.
- Colourful background artwork
- Self-aware journey story
- Tonal imbalance in artwork, music
- Puzzles are humdrum
- No cohesive imaginative and prescient
- Lack of autosave, keyboard help
Rating (out of 10): 5
Gadgets 360 performed a assessment copy of Hiveswap on PC. The recreation is accessible by way of Steam for Windows and macOS at $7.99 (about Rs. 500).
Adapted From: Gadgets360