Backlogged: Hiveswap Act 1

In an effort to get back into playing games I already own I fired up How Long to Beat Steam. I usually use this when I don’t know what I want to play and sort by the time to beat the main storyline. This is how I sort my Steam Games on Deck sidebar and I haven’t updated it in a very long time.

This game was next on the list with a playtime of only 2 hours. This cam as a surprise to me, I thought I had avoided the cliche of a PC gamer who didn’t know all of their steam games, but I have no idea where I got this from. My best guess is from Humble Monthly as this isn’t the kind of game I would usually choose to buy.

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Hiveswap is kind of a big deal if you look at its history. In 2012, a Kickstarter was put up by Andrew Hussie to make a video game based off is webcomic Homestuck. The Kickstarter raised $700,000 dollars in just under 32 hours and raised $2.4 million dollars overall. It became the third highest grossing video game in Kickstarter history at the time. The game was supposed to be released in 2014 after starting development in 2013 but arrived for purchase 3 years later in September 2017. It went through a number of iteration, starting as a 3D game and eventually scaling back into a 2D point and click adventure game.

Before playing this game I had no knowledge of either the Kickstarter story or the Homestuck webcomic. I vaguely remember reading something on Reddit about it when it was released but other than that it hadn’t crossed my radar. From the perspective of going in blind, it was a good game, a little short without much challenge.

The game bills itself as a tribute to 90’s adventure games without any of the frustration.I can agree with that, it pretty much leads you by the nose to what you need to do next to progress in the story. There’s hardly anything challenging about Hiveswap, it plays like an interactive webcomic. Luckily the art, music, and writing really make up for the simplified gameplay.

Hiveswap starts off with two kids playing with their dog in the backyard when monsters appear in the yard. The kids are separated as they are chased around by monsters and Joey Claire ends up being chased into her room. Her brother Jude is stuck in the tree house and one of the first things you’re tasked with doing is finding batteries for your walkie-talkie to talk to Jude. The first half of the game revolves around Joey trying to get to the attic because her brother is convinced is the safest place in the house.

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Hiveswap takes place in 1994 and as a result, every room in Joey’s house is chalk full of 90’s childhood nostalgia. Including but not limited to a Light Brite, street sharks, and pogs. The art is fantastic and there is so much stuff crammed into each of the areas. There’s a lot of interactable objects in each scene, most of them don’t do much besides give some funny flavor text.

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In the second half, Joey finds a mysterious device in the attic that is activated by a family heirloom. Suddenly, she is ported into a nightmarish sci-fi world in the middle of a revolution. Oh, and it’s inhabited by troll people.  It turns out Joey has been swapped with Dammek, the child leader of the revolution in Alternia. It’s more of the same gameplay as the first half with a funky sci-fi backdrop. Presumably, this is where the rest of the story will take place in the later acts.

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According to the wiki, there are suppose to be 4 acts of Hiveswap and the second game following Dammek called Hauntswitch. I’m not a fan of episodic games because I don’t like waiting for more story. I’d rather have a full experience than one broken up into pieces. The story of Hiveswap isn’t anything new but I like the characters enough to want to know what will happen next. Unfortunately, it’s hard to gauge exactly when the next act will be released if ever. The original release was supposed to be Spring 2018, but spring has come and gone without much talk of a new release date. Meanwhile, the studio has pushed out 10 volumes of a Hiveswap visual novel. Where that 2.4 million went is unclear. The game has high-quality art and music but 2.4 million for 2 point and click games seems a bit steep.

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