Hey, remember Homestuck? Y’know, that webcomic that parodies point-and-click games and has teenage trolls from another world? Okay, terrible summary aside, Pesterquest is a visual novel anthology set in the Homestuck universe, which was originally conceived by Andrew Hussie. What’s special about this release is that the original cast of writers, artists and composers have all banded together to work on this title. For longtime fans of the series, it’ll probably be a hoot, but it’s less likely to engage newcomers or VN fans alike.
You’ll be a little bit lost if you aren’t already rooted in the lore of the series, and that includes both the 2016 epilogues and the spin-off title Hiveswap FriendSim. No need to worry about being completely left out, with exception to a handful of jokes and references to the original series. Moving on, you play as a self-insert who’s impatiently waiting for more Homestuck content. After finding a mysterious emblem in your house, you end up teleporting to a new world. Best thing is, you’ve suddenly gained the ability to teleport and time-travel, so, what better way to use your newly-found abilities than to visit as many characters as possible and try to make friends with them?
Originally, the team at What Pumpkin Games, Inc. released the game episodically; new chapters were added every fortnight. Recently, the final update rolled out, so what you’re getting are 14 in total. Each of them will take about 10 to 30 mins to get through, respectively. While you’ll be greeted with more than a few multiple-choice answers along the way, your actions won’t affect how events will turn out in later chapters. Rather, you’ll be greeted with a bad ending that’ll send you back to the main menu. Some of these game over screens – like being tossed out of the window by a puppet, or getting a disapproving head-shake from someone’s father from afar – are nothing short of barmy.
Honestly, the writing and narrations would’ve really benefited from a do-over. That is, unless you’re the kind of guy or gal who loves excessive swearing, sarcasm, dated pop culture references and fourth-wall breaks. Its jokes and gags are tossed at the proverbial wall so frequently that nothing really sticks. At best, it can be slightly amusing on occasions. Still, the bizarre turn of events should be intriguing enough to keep some players hooked.
There should be enough content for the fandom to appreciate, though. You’ll realize that the quirky characters have a lot to share about themselves, as Pesterquest is not afraid to touch on some pretty touchy subjects at times. As a result, some of these moments feel pretty somber and down-to-Earth when it finally decides to take off its clown mask. Thankfully, the developers were considerate to add disclaimers and warnings in case any of these encounters hit a bit too close to home.
Meanwhile, another strong point about Pesterquest is the artwork. The backgrounds are brimming with detail, and still retain that webcomic aesthetic to them. The cast have themselves some great designs, much like their entertaining facial expressions. Meanwhile, the soundtrack is an unusual and eclectic collaborative effort made up of tracks that feature beatboxing, text-to-word vocals spouting the alphabet, and a few relaxing ditties on the keyboard.
It’s clear that Pesterquest is a for-the-fans sort of title, but that shouldn’t excuse its writing, which is pretty poor most of the time. Its merits lie in the visual and sound department, alongside the occasionally quirky event that’ll pop up here and there. It’s not particularly long, but its bite-sized mini-stories are approachable enough, even if they read like silly fanfics. Grab it if you love the webseries, steer clear if you’re after a good visual novel instead.
Review code supplied by developers.