It was April 13th, 2009, when Homestuck began. It was a webcomic that took the internet by storm and, by 2014, was one of the biggest online sensations of its kind. The format was made to mimic the classic text-based adventure games of the 80’s, and in 2012 the creator Andrew Hussie came to the same conclusion most of its fans had: Homestuck should have a game. The kickstarter still has the highest amount of funding amongst all comic-related ventures at roughly $2.4 million, which is pretty insane for what would most likely be a point-and-click adventure game. Various issues have resulted in the release date being pushed back two whole years, including a transition from 3D back over to 2D and the changing of publishers, but now it’s finally out. At least, for the most part.
Hiveswap follows the story of a young girl named Joey Claire. She spends time hanging out with her brother until a bunch of monsters mysteriously invade their home. You navigate Joey throughout her newly occupied mansion of a home, until you find a strange device that carries you off to a completely different world. There’s more to it than that, but I would find spoiling a largely story-driven adventure to be in poor taste.
Hiveswap is the result of five grueling years of development hell, but was it worth it? I played Hiveswap for about seven hours according to Steam, but that includes my house suffering from a power outage that forced me back to the beginning. The whole game probably took me closer to five hours to actually finish, and that’s largely because I clicked on everything I could find. It’s pretty normal for adventure games to have large swaths of interactive content; it tends to come either in the form of the lead character’s perspective, or in the form of easter eggs and joke material--Hiveswap shoots with both barrels of the expositive shotgun. Click on any individual element, and the game will show you exactly what that character thinks of it, which is not synonymous with a simple description. It’s all very first person, and very “Homestuck”, in execution: opinions are given absolute clarity, facts and events are meant to be handled more nebulously.
But that means, assuming you don’t just blitz past all the description, you have a five hour game that took five years to make. Now to be fair, this is only ACT 1 of the story; I’m willing to forgive a shorter than average experience, but even this warm-up performance still felt too quick. It’s like getting a book in the mail and being told you’re only allowed to read the first chapter, which is extra annoying since this first chapter was really good.
Hiveswap carries all the same strengths and weaknesses Homestuck did: well imagined, genuinely creative, delightfully witty, wonderfully charming and maybe a little too specific for its own good. It’s hard to really talk about Hiveswap in detail without spoiling the surprise because the details are the entire game. Like many adventure titless, the raw story and exploration is what defines much of the experience. I can say with full confidence that Hiveswap is a fantastic game; despite how little of it there is, I’m left wanting more. And it’s hard to give a solid opinion since the entire story isn’t out yet, but I honestly think Hiveswap will only get better in the future.