Hiveswap Friendsim – PS5 Review

Hey, kids. Do you like friends? Do want real and viable approaches to get friends? Maybe don’t use Hiveswap Freindsim as a guide. It is, however, a fairly relaxed, cheeky visual novel that explores friendship in a swift but entertaining manner. What Pumpkin Games have penned this little tale that, whilst occasionally funny does effectively feel very mechanical.

Shockingly enough, Hiveswap Friendsim is a visual novel focused around one alien’s attempt at friendship. As such, the game exclusively hinges on decision points that will point towards either an abrupt end or a progression of a relationship. It can feel very binary at times. Some choices can feel obvious but I did have moments of being blindsided by a wrong answer. Not that there’s much penalty for a wrong turn. A quick rewind or restart can get you back to the fork in the road.

These friendships are largely contained within bite-sized chapters. Hiveswap Friendsim contains two friends to pursue which does help bolster the running time. It’s not quite branching point within itself. Both can be initiated at any time with no real consequence to speak of. Each chapter usually has two or three decisions to make and culminates in a successful friendship. That, to me, leads to a fairly easy and trivial process. There’s a lot of visual novels I encounter where the objective seems to be conveniently wrapped up. You are the world’s greatest friend and there is no obstacle in your path to really stumble over.

Not that there isn’t variety in the cast of followers. You’ve landed on a planet of trolls and vampires. These are fairly human in terms of personality which just the odd quirk of bloodlust and violence sneaked in. With fictitious trolls providing the friendly conquests, sexual overtones can sneak in without the usual iffiness over age. There’s not a lot of it but the genre sure loves to carry that baggage. Hiveswap Freindsim is at least more innocent in that regard.

The narrative itself perhaps struggles to come together in a meaningful way. Yes, you’re gathering friends like Pokemon but I would like to see a more overarching plot arrive to bracket all these experiences together. Without a wider goal, these relationships can feel a little self-contained and hollow.

The writing has a humorous vent that is heavily drenched in snark. At times, I feel like it’s trying too hard and doesn’t seem keen on changing tact. If you’re into that, you’ll right and home. For me, it was laid on too thick and makes the more adult themes clash in tone. All the characters seem well versed in that style of humour which can homogenise them. At least there are members of the cast who do show their own vernacular, even if some of it can be hard to read.

Visually, the art is nicely stylised an cohesive. The trolls look very charming and definitely have a juvenile quality to them. The backgrounds have a decent amount of detail to them, although conversations do tend to feel largely static with very little animation to them. Characters entering or exiting frame has this juddering effect which I don’t especially like. It’s probably not the intent but it looks broken, to me.

The soundtrack is downright lovely. It maintains the light and upbeat tone of the writing with some really jaunty tunes. With the game containing so many chapters, there’s plenty of opportunities for new tracks to appear. Honestly, I felt the score was the game’s largest high point. I’ve never been the biggest fan of this genre but the accompaniment does well to feel warm and cheery. Victory in a chapter signals it’s own little chime which does trigger some satisfaction in me.

Hiveswap Freindsim doesn’t change my mind on the genre but the number of chapters and characters allows for a game with more legs than usual. You can still blast through it in an afternoon but the art and music carry a good quality. The short chapters can help delay any fatigue but anyone wanting something more substantial might be out of luck.

Hiveswap Friendsim
6 Overall
+ Colourful cast of characters that seem varied and interesting.
+ Writing can be funny and lends itself to an easy-going tone.
+ Great soundtrack.
+ Good looking art with plenty of variety.
- The humour is laid on fairly thick.
- Friendships are wrapped up incredibly quickly.
- Interaction and decisions feel light with no greater branching narrative.
Hiveswap Friendsim is a reasonably competent visual novel. The focus on friendship and the short chapters can make the act of relationships a little trivial. It can be a little too convenient at times and the writing lays on the humour thick. At least there's plenty of personality on offer with the friends having their own interests and problems.  It's not doing anything special within the genre but fans of whatever the Homestuck universe is will be feel right at home.

About Mike

Mike gets all the racing games because he understands that stuff even though he doesn't drive.

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