There are few things better than jumping on into an imaginative world, solving its puzzles and meeting cool characters. We remember falling in love with Monkey Island and Sam & Max: Hit the Road but the adventure genre has fallen off a bit since the releases of the two aforementioned games. Today, finding an old-fashioned, true adventure game is somewhat rare and that's a shame. Therefore, it was with great pleasure that we got to sink our teeth into Afterparty recently. The game was developed by Night School Studios, known as the dev behind Oxenfree, and it was recently released for PC, PlayStation 4, Switch and Xbox One.
In Afterparty, you play as the two best friends, Lola and Milo, who have both died and ended up in Hell. Hell's acidic, unpleasant environments aren't their location of choice and thus, Lola and Milo want to leave. That's easier said than done, and the pair quickly learns that the only way to do so is to outdrink the Devil.
Obviously, the premise is a very unique and unusual one and the game itself offers a truly interesting experience. There are two kinds of beings in Hell: demons, who exist to make sure that humans are abolished for the sins committed in the realm of the living, and the humans waiting to be abolished. Lola and Milo have to basically bar crawl through the ten rings of hell to find the Devil and outdrink him. Throughout their journey through the depths, the pair will encounter many strange characters who will have very different feelings towards them. Some will try to help them while some will try to prevent them from escaping.
The narrative is very well-written, especially during its more serious moments, and succeeds in creating interesting dialogue and effective dramatic moments. That said, however, the game also attempts to focus on humour from time to time.
The two protagonists have their own personal demon following them around who, along the way, stops the act of torture against them. You see, it's the demon's first day at work, so she's not quite in the swing of things just yet. This leads to some pretty entertaining situations where Milo and Lola show up and quarrel with the demon.
The character gallery is very creatively set up, and you'll encounter everything from demons trying to succeed in hell to other people trying to escape eternal damnation. We enjoyed the interaction between human and demon but also the interactions between Milo and Lola, as the pair are best friends who have known each other since they were little. They take turns to be there for each other while teasing each other the rest of the time. Their relationship feels very natural and the two are really good at describing their bizarre surroundings.
The one issue with the narrative was, for us, the humour, which didn't always hit the mark. In fact, we didn't really laugh at all during our time with the game even though it was clear that the game wanted us to. Afterparty tries to be funny most of the time, so it's a preferential thing, but it never really resonated with us. Fortunately, the main narrative remedies the lacklustre jokes throughout as it tells a very deep story that touches on death, bullying, family struggles and other darker themes.
Afterparty isn't a very complicated game. In fact, it's not even complicated for the adventure genre. You can choose to control your protagonists with either a keyboard or controller and it doesn't really make a difference which one you pick considering you only walk left or right and only rarely use a button on the controller. Besides talking to people, there's not much else you get to do. There are some small-scale mini-games like Beer Pong that you have to play occasionally to progress in the story, but nothing major. The puzzles, if you can call them that, aren't very challenging as you can solve all the tasks through dialogue. At times, it feels like the game is playing itself, which was a bit frustrating. You just get to steer the characters in the right direction and listen to the dialogue, without having the ability to actually impact the story in any meaningful way. You can, however, impact the dialogue somewhat.
Afterparty has a very special visual style where Hell is quite colourful. You don't see characters up close so you don't get to inspect the details but they are still well made. There's a Grim Fandango feel to it all that is pretty cool. In fact, Hell feels more like a gritty Las Vegas than the place the Devil was exiled to by The Man Upstairs. The sound design also helps to give the game a very unique atmosphere, with a jazzy soundtrack accompanying the action.
In addition, the voice acting is excellent and you can recognise many of the voice actors portraying the game's characters like Dave Fennoy, who many will recognise as the voice of Lee Everett in Telltale's The Walking Dead (he plays the devil in Afterparty).
To summarise, Afterparty is a fun, bite-sized experience that lacks interactivity. The riddles are tremendously easy and the game almost plays itself. However, the story is really well-written, the graphics are great and the music is bold and fitting. It's a perfect game to try if you're not looking to interact too much and it offers plenty of personality to keep one interested.
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