From Night School Studios, the company that brought us the incredible Oxenfree, comes their second release to console. Afterparty sticks to the company’s already award winning formula of Telltale inspired dialogue choices, 2.5D exploration and expertly crafted free flowing conversation. This time though, they’ve gone from visiting a local island to being sent to hell without their consent. Will Afterparty be a blast? Or feel like a terrible hangover?!
Throughout your journey with Afterparty you play as Milo and Lola, two teen best friends who suddenly find themselves in the underworld with no idea how they even died. Through a delay in being assigned their permanent torture, they are allowed to explore their new surroundings for a few hours and in doing so they discover a loophole: out drink Satan and he’ll grant re-entry to Earth. You’ll need to travel between hell’s numerous islands, taxi’d by your new friend Sam (who’s literally a taxi driver in hell) and defeat Satan’s minions to eventually out-drink the big man himself. It’s going to be one hell of a night!
Hell, in video games, is usually portrayed as fire, brimstone and the usual boring cliched stuff. Afterparty however, somehow, shows an oddly more humanistic side to hell. People on Earth don’t always like their job and clock in and clock out from 9-5 and then head to the bar; this is exactly the case with this version of hell. Demons hate their job too, all they do is torture people day in and day out and the second their shift ends, they go to the bar and get blind drunk. I’s a depressingly relatable story and offers a refreshing take on the afterlife. With the huge array of bars and pubs to visit too, the almost constant neon lights add a seedy, debaucherous look to everything; it’s hell, but just not how I imagined it. It’s a devilishly fresh take and shows how hell and Earth really aren’t that different, which is a little scary…
The game itself is very narrative heavy and all unfolds through dialogue choices – I’ll get into this later – and simple puzzles. These puzzles, sadly, aren’t incredible; they are simple dance offs or beer pong games which are easily won. You need to defeat the progressively harder demons to eventually get to Satan for the final showdown. These simplistic puzzles would be more of a drag in other games, but because of the setting they are in, the characters around you and the constant hilarious back and forth dialogue between all the characters involved, I really didn’t care that much.
The biggest draw of Afterparty is the exquisite writing. With every character you meet, each piece of dialogue seems to have been painstakingly written and perfectly executed. It really is some of the best voice acting I’ve come across in a good few years. The main characters, Milo and Lola, are quick-witted millennials who bounce off each other with surgical like precision, so much so that I can’t remember the last time I found two main characters so easy to like as these two. As this is hell after all, there is a lot of put downs, sarcasm and rude language throughout, yet it’s genuinely hilarious, and you will easily lose count of the amount of times you find yourself laughing out loud. This dialogue is also chosen by you, as you get to pick what kind of response you wish to run, and whether you would prefer to be a nice person or, frankly, pretty horrible.
These verbal choices don’t exactly have a huge impact on the storyline but Afterparty never sells itself as such – it just makes your journey through this game a bit more unique and individual. There have however been a few incidents where the voices have suddenly cut off, or leaving numerous characters talking at the same time. This obviously makes it hard to understand what is going on, but this sort of thing is easily fixed through patches.
More dialogue choices can also be used when you drink certain alcoholic beverages in hell. These drinks can make you funnier or seem more threatening to those around you. But much like in real life, these don’t always go the right way though, as different demons react differently to being intimidated. Again, this doesn’t exactly change how the game ends or progresses much but it does make for some hilarious moments. I do wish that these drinks impacted the game a bit more though; the idea is there, but the landing just doesn’t stick 100% of the time.
The exploration side of Afterparty does leave a little to be desired. I have found that I couldn’t exactly go off and explore wherever and whenever I wanted; always limited to the same beaten path, going wherever I was told. This being said, because all of Satan’s helpers and demons you challenge are so hilarious and this neon-lit, party animal representation of hell is so aesthetically beautiful, I haven’t really minded too much. I was just happy to be along for the ride!
Afterparty on Xbox One is a brilliantly fun game. It has memorable characters, a unique setting and funny, macabre writing that will keep you coming back for more. Despite the very minor bugs that I’m sure will be fixed via easy patches, and the entire experience only really being around 5/6 hours in length, it’s a game I highly recommend, especially for those after a slower paced, beautifully written bit of fun. The build up to the final meeting of Satan is wondrous enjoyment and the journey of Afterparty is one you must take in for yourself.