HIVESWAP: Act 1

Monsters attack! Joey Claire is trapped in her house; her younger brother is trapped in his tree house and the dog is in the dog house. This point-and-click adventure starts by attempting a rescue.

Pros

HIVESWAP: Act 1 is hilarious. There are some serious themes surrounding the characters and story, but at the same time a lot of the dialogue, puzzles and solutions are simply hilarious.

Other than being funny, the story is also very interesting.

Joey Claire is the main character, but you get to play other characters as well.

There is a mix of different types of music, but they all fit nicely to their respective situations and sound great.

I really like the cartoony look of the game. It is not as colourful as Deponia, but the drawings look nice and are very well animated.

Wait! Was that Teddy Ruxpin? And a Popple and a Snork! When the game’s description mentioned “hyper-detailed environments”, they were not kidding. There are so many familiar things and even more unfamiliar things. Familiarity with the 80s and 90s probably helps with the enjoyment of the game.

Cons

HIVESWAP: Act 1 is a very short game. I know it is only the first act, but when the game ended after only 3 hours and 31 minutes, I still got frustrated. Frustrated because the story is so good and the other acts are not available yet. So, do not get HIVESWAP: Act 1 if you have an obsession with reaching the end of awesome stories… or if you want a game with a much longer play time.

Only some of the text can be progressed by pressing space. Others you must click the mouse button to continue. I wish I could use space to progress all texts.

Other Points

Either the puzzles were super easy or the clues were very obvious, I didn’t get stuck once.

There is no speech whatsoever. It is all written dialogue and descriptions. I did not put this as a con, because when playing the game, it just seemed normal and I did not think that speech was needed. It helps that the writing is superb with loads of humour. Then again, maybe it is because I grew up playing text adventures, that reading felt normal to me.

Biases

I played Deponia a bit before playing HIVESWAP: Act 1. Both of them reminded me of Sam & Max Hit the Road and The Curse of Monkey Island from long ago. I have played the entire Monkey Island series, but Curse was the only one that had the cartoon look.

I don’t know what Homestuck is, but I love this game anyway.

I played the Steam version of the game. The game is also available DRM-free from GOG.com.

A Story About My Uncle

A Story About My Uncle is a first-person platformer for explorers. Run, jump, swing and rocket your way through a fantastic world. Search for clues as to what happened to your missing Uncle and follow his footsteps.

Pros

The graphics are not the best in the world, but the environments look beautiful. The motions of your hands and of the world around you are also very well animated.

A Story About My Uncle is quite a quiet game. There is music and the sound effects reflect what is happening with you and around you, but it is still quiet. The quietness of the game really creates a great atmosphere.

The level designs make full use of the vast expanse of far and wide spaces. They make you not only use your skills to traverse effectively over the huge spaces, but also force you to observe where and how to connect your grappling swings. You must think in all three dimensions by figuring out how to go over, around and also under obstacles to reach the next platform.

The combination of the graphics, sound and level designs make for a very engrossing experience. The game made me move in my chair as if leaning more would make me travel further in the game. I cannot remember the last game that made me move in my chair.

The game is very easy to learn. Step-by-step instructions are displayed as you play the game.

The story is touching. There is nothing fancy, no dramatic twist, just a simple heart-warming story. The ending does not explain a lot of things, but I still found it very satisfying.

Cons

A Story About my Uncle is a very short game. It only took me 5 hours and 21 minutes to reach the end and that includes all the falling and retrying. I only managed to collect 11/25 collectibles, and I did not spend a lot of time examining everything, so there is some replay value. The fact remains, it is a very short game. Not the shortest game I have played, but still short.

I found it disappointing that your hands are so well animated, but you cannot see your own legs or feet.

Some sections only allow you to walk around and zoom in on things. I managed to get stuck exploring because the jump function was disabled.

I encountered a few bugs where the events did not trigger properly if I continued from some checkpoints. They were not game breaking bugs, but they did ruin the immersion. The bugs also made their affected sections easier, which was okay by me.

Other Points

The game uses checkpoint saves and has only one profile to save the progress. As you play through the game, the checkpoints get further and further apart which contributes to increasing the difficulty. As you complete each level, you can also start from the beginning of the level without going through the whole game.

There is a lot to explore with lots of running, jumping and grappling to be performed. For budding investigators, finding hidden things and taking a closer look can reveal some interesting stuff. There are also collectibles to gather which unlocks stuff for the game. Other than that, there is not much else to do. There are very few things to interact with.

The game looks like it would be a tremendous VR experience. But it does not look like it supports VR at the moment. I do not have a VR headset, but experiencing the game on a normal screen is already so engrossing, a VR version would truly be out of this world.

A Story About My Uncle is promoted as a non-violent game. The developers should put a disclaimer saying the game may cause players to be violent towards their computers. More than a few times I have rage quit the game out of frustration.

Biases

A Story About My Uncle reminded me of Quake 2 and Just Cause 2. They were the only games I remember playing that had grappling hooks. Of course they were nothing like A Story About My Uncle.

The frustration also reminded me of platform jumping in Half-Life 2. Another game that is nothing like A Story About My Uncle.

Played version BUILD v. 5188.