TA Playlist Wrap-Up: Afterparty

By The TA Playlist Team,
Since the continuation of TA Playlist was confirmed under new leadership, one piece of feedback we’ve been getting regularly has been the desire for a return to the old Playlist podcast. The podcast was a great wrap up of the month, led by previous Playlist host N0T PENNYS B0AT. It provided a summary of the month’s game with critical analysis, working in community feedback and stats.

Unfortunately, time zones, availability and ability are making the podcast unlikely at the moment but we didn’t want to leave the community with nothing so we’re bringing you a wrap up article containing some of the things the podcast used to provide.

Where possible we will avoid overt spoilers in these wrap ups but some of the content and feedback may be a little spoilery so if you haven’t finished the game, read at your own risk.

Afterparty

In January, we dove headlong into hell with Night School Studio’s Afterparty. 2,615 tracked gamers played the game in the month, with a big chunk of them (1,954 - 75%) having started it for the first time. Of those who played it, 300 (11%) saw the game to its completion. 204 dedicated gamers managed to both start and complete the game in the month, including resident Playlist Wookiee ChewieOnIce.

The game has very similar mechanics and presentation to the studio’s previous output, OXENFREE. Probably for that reason, a lot of forum chatter was around the differences and similarities between the two games. Some who disliked OXENFREE, including MagicalChild, decided to pass on the game because of its similarities. However, the tone of the game is quite different as, whilst OXENFREE is primarily a mystery with sci-fi elements, Afterparty is a dark comedy.

BetaSigX20 said:
I think it comes down to the focus and the tone of the game. OXENFREE was focused on the mystery of Edwards Island, and there was a spooky, creepy tension that they did an excellent job of maintaining throughout. In Afterparty, despite being set in literal Hell, the tone is much more light-hearted and humorous, and I think more of the focus is on the relationship and background of the two main characters... the "plot" is just part of the setting to tell that story.
Afterparty

There are thematic links between both games as they focus on adolescents who talk about their own problems and worries as much as the situations they find themselves in. Afterparty just has a lot more poop jokes. There was a mixed reaction to the humour, with some loving it and others finding it missed the mark.

RiBoP said:
I must say I'm pleasantly surprised by the absurd setting and characters. The bizarre and sometimes funny dialogue nostalgically reminds me of an earlier LucasArts gem Grim Fandango which also takes place in some form of afterlife.
The general consensus seemed to be that Afterparty was a lesser follow-up to OXENFREE:

BetaSigX20 said:
"Lighter and less fulfilling" is probably the best way to compare this to Oxenfree. If Oxenfree was Twin Peaks or Lost, Afterparty is more like a Seth Rogen movie... still fun, worth the experience, but it's not going to stick with you the way Oxenfree did.
However, there were some people who actually preferred it:

JohnnyInterfnk said:
I liked this game better than OXENFREE (gasp!). To me, OXENFREE was alright, had good character development, but the mystery was overblown and the game dragged a bit at times. This game, while far from perfect, had some creative ideas, some solid characters (loved Wormhorn) and the jokes landed pretty regularly.
Afterparty

Although there are a lot of gameplay similarities, there are a couple of new mechanics introduced in Afterparty that centre around drinking (the Devil loves to party and Hell is full of bars). Drinking before entering conversations gives you unique dialogue options depending on the drink you’ve consumed, such as one that makes you obnoxious and another that makes you talk like a pirate. However, apart from the extra choices they don’t actually impact overall gameplay or story paths.

Vc Clarity said:
The main mechanic of the game, drinking, feels and seems unnecessary. I expected that potentially drinking a 'courage' drink in the right situation may impact Milo and Lola's chance of escaping (or vice-versa). They are very few instances in there game where drinking adds gameplay options
The other element is drinking games of which there are three: shot stacking, beer pong and dancing. Passing these is required to progress the story at multiple points, as well as achievements required to perfect them.

JohnnyInterfnk had an interesting take on the game, feeling that some of the underbaked mechanics such as the map and travel system, slightly empty areas and Bicker (Hell’s social media system) suggested some bigger ideas which didn’t quite make it through to the final product.

JohnnyInterfnk said:
I did get the strong feeling after playing the first time that this game was supposed to be more open world, and was scaled down, probably due to time. It was odd there was a map and a travel system, but they weren't utilized like you would expect (aka taxi services taking you between islands at your will, and the map tracking quests and areas you could go to). As well, the island where you meet Sam before the final sequence seemed to be a fleshed out quest area (there's a bar and a bunch of other stuff you pass), but its only used in one scripted sequence. The island with Lynda/Apollyon seemed to have much more space for other sequences and events. Bicker seemed to be underutilized (as if it was supposed to be a method to gather side quests).
Afterparty

The game has an estimated completion of 10-12 hours and we have a walkthrough courtesy of NoHeroes94 to guide players through it. but one of the most contentious issues raised in the forums was the need for multiple playthroughs to get the completion. There are two main branching paths according to if you tend to choose either Milo or Lola’s preferred methods of handling different scenarios. There are achievements tied to these two choices that pop roughly two thirds of the way through the game so you need at least two nearly full playthroughs. On top of that though, there are three different endings to see, each of which comes with its own achievement. These endings purely hinge on a choice you make at the very end of the game when you finally face the devil in the drinking game to save your souls, but as the game has no chapter select and saves after making the choice, three full playthroughs would ordinarily be needed to get them all. Thankfully, there is the option to manipulate your save data to get all of them in one go, but this method appears to have had mixed results.

Tropan said:
I really like the game the first time through, just some light comedy, but being forced with 3 playthroughs really soured the ending, so if you can, try the save manipulation. Second playthrough there are slight changes to the quest line. 3rd playthrough however has NO changes, just literally the last game choice.
Allgorhythm said:
I think the game is very witty and entertaining for a first playthrough. IMHO, though, the developers did not do enough to sustain interest during a second or third playthrough. The game's intent, obviously, is to experience each of Milo's and Lola's perspectives. Nevertheless, the two paths are too similar and their lack of differentiation causes the player's interest to dwindle.
Afterparty

Finally, some gamers found a bit of issue with the overall pacing of the game, including the unskippable dialogue and walking sequences, as well as some lagginess during the taxi ride sequences (which double as the game’s loading screen).

Rista B said:
Having constant frame stuttering and one crash during play was a major distraction and combined with some questionable game pacing frequently made playing through the game feel like a chore.
We hope you enjoyed this wrap up for Afterparty. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. If you’re following along with us for this month’s game, Gears of War 3, make sure to drop by the Playlist forums to let us know your thoughts and we may include it in next month’s wrap up. And remember, voting for March’s game is currently open.
The TA Playlist Team
Written by The TA Playlist Team
The TA Playlist is a monthly community event. Everyone votes on which of four games to play, and then we all play through it in the following month. There's a dedicated hub to discuss everything about the game, from story beats to gameplay tips – and of course, you can track your achievement progress during the month as well. TA Playlist was created by Mark Delaney and is now run by Miles, Nici and Chewie.