Afterparty Reviews

  • FuchsdhFuchsdh577,850
    03 Nov 2019 03 Nov 2019
    19 2 7
    AKA "Hell Ain't All It's Cracked Up To Be"

    To start things off: Oxenfree, Afterparty developer Night School Studio's last big game, was definitely my GOTY 2016. Its "walk-and-talk" mechanic felt like a quantum leap beyond the stale Telltale-style "let's sit here while you ponder"-type choices available in other games. As a fan of story-driven games, it hit every note perfectly for me—especially the time-bending way it approached the new game+ mode for repeat playthroughs. Visually, it was stunning, the music (by scntfc) was amazing, and to me, it's the best game in the surprisingly-populated "story-based games where teenage girls encounter the supernatural in the Pacific Northwest" genre.

    So my expectations were high going into Afterparty, and in the end, I felt a bit let down. Afterparty feels like a step forward in some areas, but a step back in others.

    The premise is pretty simple: best friends Lola and Milo are celebrating the end of college one moment, and then the next, find themselves in Hell. Things take a bit of time to ramp up, but soon you've learned you are, in fact, very dead. The only way out of Hell is through the Devil—you'll need to challenge him to a drinking game. Of course, this being a video game, you'll need to perform some side challenges before you get a shot at the Prince o' Darkness himself, and by the time you get to Satan... well, your chance to get out of hell doesn't feel like the victory Milo and Lola hoped for.

    Like Oxenfree, the walk-and-talk mechanics comes over pretty much unchanged, but the difference with Afterparty one of your dialogue options only appears when you've been drinking, and that third dialogue option is influenced by just what you drank. Do you want to sound like a pirate? Like a transatlantic-accent-laden movie star? Do you want to be aggressive and throw profanity? Or try to butter someone up with a lovable party-hard persona? These are your options, and in a few cases (perhaps too rarely) they become the real way to opening up paths as you go.

    The other fun wrinkle to Oxenfree's formula is that Afterparty gives you a lot more hints about how your choices are shaping out. At times, Lola and Milo's personal demon (voiced by Oxenfree's Erin Yvette) pops up to show them the choices they've made and berate them for their missteps. It's a nagging feeling that helps make it unclear if you made the right choice along the way, although (spoiler alert) as with many of these games, most choices only affect ancillary aspects of the story, not the main plot points. While there's no new game+ mode (at least as of writing), the game does offer more replayability, letting you take alternate paths to reach the end.

    There were a few criticisms of Oxenfree, and Night School seems to have taken them to heart with improvements here. Oxenfree didn't have a whole lot of gameplay beyond the dialogue options; mostly it was just walking around, and then tuning some radios. Afterparty adds a bit more to the toolbag. While it never really feels quite like a LucasArts item-based puzzle game, there are more branching paths and mini games (such as beer pong, dancing, and building shot glass towers) to spice things up for the people who don't just want to talk through every beat. As a result, Afterparty feels a bit more varied and less linear.

    There are some downsides, however. Hell is populated with a number of denizens, and so rather than the forlorn spookiness of the island in Oxenfree, you've got a backdrop of chattering demons and humans. I was a bit let down that the world of Hell was quieter than I expected despite this; you can only talk to very few of these bystanders, so for the most part they're set dressing. I regularly walked to the very ends of areas and was disappointed that there was nothing there for my trouble; I just had to walk back (ever so slowly, because there's no way to run or fast travel) disappointed. It feels like a missed opportunity; whereas there was a lot of reasons to go out of your way to explore Oxenfree, hell feels far more barren than it should.

    In the same vein, I felt like the story never really embraced the setting. While the fall of Satan gets some time spent on it, we never really hear a lot from Satan on that score, despite it being the driving element of the plot, and we never really critically interrogate the world itself—how people end up in Hell for remarkably trivial slights, or how the demons are stuck in a similar endless cycle of torture. We don't really even get a sense of what eternal damnation really means, because the main characters aren't really threatened by it at any time. It feels like a high-concept idea that just didn't spend enough time deepening the world. It's a more ambitious throw than Oxenfree, but doesn't really sink the shot.

    My biggest complaint, however, was performance. Rather than the painterly 2D landscapes of Oxenfree, the entire environs of Afterparty are 3D (though the gameplay is still experienced in a 2.5D style.) On a first-generation Xbox One, the game stutters hard more than it doesn't just walking around the environments. The choppiness heavily detracts from the game's presentation, especially when it usually doesn't seem like there's all that much going on to justify the stutters, and on one or two occasions I missed conversation or button prompts because of it.

    On the achievement side, there are a number of "do X in a single play through"-type achievements with counters that don't reset on a new run, so it can be difficult to keep track. There are also three different possible endings, which seem to require separate playthroughs (some people in the achievement solution comments have suggested they had success immediately quitting the game and deleting their saves to avoid replaying, but I had no such luck.) While the achievements are occasionally frustrating, they're generally fairly easy, and you can mostly spend time immersed in the story.

    Overall, while disappointed with the game, I still enjoyed my time in the weird world of Hell—even if it wasn't as weird as I supposed I hoped. As this game is on Game Pass currently, if you're a subscriber there's no reason not to sink some time into this game if you're a fan of story-driven games.
    Showing most recent comments. View all comments.
    AllOvaMyselfWhile this still only adds to your observation that the world of Hell is not well-realized, the game does actually mention why Hell is out-of-sorts...

    *** Spoiler - click to reveal ***

    While this kinda-sorta explains why Hell is so mundane, if you don't catch this line and extrapolate that for yourself, you'd never suss that out any other way.

    Good review, we had similar experiences all the way around. I fuckin' loved OXENFREE, but this just doesn't reach that same height. Also, I share your bewilderment on why the game is so goddamned laggy when there really doesn't appear to be any reason for it on screen.

    It also crashed and broke on me a few times, too. Once I was sitting at a bar going through the drinks and Lola finishes, stands up and all the prompts in the room were gone. I couldn't interact with anything and ended up stuck in that room. Re-launching the game set me back to the point I had to re-do 3 conversations...roll
    Posted by AllOvaMyself on 10 Dec 19 at 20:15
    EarthboundXI agree, I quite liked Oxenfree, but I felt almost nothing for Afterparty, it was a struggle to play more than 1 hour at a time. I'd give it 2.5 stars, right in the boring middle.

    It's got great writing and voice acting, but that couldn't save the full package for me I guess. I'm not a fan of "walking simulators", but I enjoyed Oxenfree despite it, because of its cool setting and story. The world in Afterparty really doesn't feel like Hell at all. It could have been just some generic ghost or supernatural world and not much would have changed.

    I did found it interesting that the main villain of the game set in Hell turns out to be God(Not a spoiler btw)and not Satan. It's the type of God where everything is set in stone, it's a chosen life plan so people will go to Hell no matter what they do. So humans don't really have free will, and God changes the rules all the time. People get sent to Hell for things like jaywalking, and bringing too many items to the express lane in supermarkets. The demons torturing people in Hell don't do it because they enjoy it, but because they have to, because of God's plan. I think the devs might be atheists, haha.
    Posted by EarthboundX on 23 Jan 20 at 12:06
    MajimaActualWhy is the reveal about the main villain not a spoiler? Curious.
    Posted by MajimaActual on 03 Oct 22 at 03:32
  • RedDeulistRedDeulist55,980
    26 Oct 2020 26 Oct 2020
    2 1 2
    Check the review here:

    Founded in 2014 by cousins Sean Krankel and Adam Hines, Night School is an independent studio focused on the intersection of story and interactivity.
    You might know the studio from the game OXENFREE.
    The team of Telltale and Disney veterans are applying their extensive entertainment experience to create games filled with wonder, danger, and humor.
    Afterparty is a great adventure game and is available on PS4, PC (coming to Steam on October 22nd), Xbox One (On Gamepass at the moment), and Nintendo Switch.

    In Afterparty, you play as Milo and Lola, recently deceased best buds who suddenly find themselves staring down an eternity in Hell. But there’s a loophole: outdrink Satan and he’ll grant you re-entry to Earth.
    Milo and Lola are now dead, thirsty, and roaming the streets of Nowhere, the outermost island of Hell. You will need to help out demons and people to progress through hell.
    Milo and Lilo have no recollection of how they came to be in Hell.
    After being assigned a Personal Demon, Sister Mary Wormhorn, they meet Sam, a psychopomp cab driver. Sam explains that while demons torture humans during work hours, both groups enjoy the nights drinking and partying together. The only way out of Hell is to outdrink and out-party Satan himself. After procuring an invite to Lucifer’s party, Milo and Lola eventually meet Satan himself, who demands they prove their abilities by obtaining seals of approval from his brothers and sisters, the Monarchs of Hell.
    The game has multiple endings, depending on Milo and Lola’s performance in the drinking game.
    It features a large array of doom cocktails that will give you extra conversation options as well, called Liquid Courage effects within the game.

    Hell also has its own Social Media called Bicker, see what everyone is talking about, and scroll through your homepage via the menu.
    You can sometimes get DMs from your friends that you can answer. Overall a feature that you will need to get stuff done in the game.

    There are no accessibility settings to the game next to putting on the subtitles.
    This might make some mini-games a bit harder to play for some people but will not have a huge effect on the main game.
Hide ads