The team atNight School Studio has just released their latest adventure game. This time, instead of following the teens through the supernatural story of the first Oxenfree game, we’re moving on to H-E double hockey sticks. That’s right, the devil’s lair will now be your setting in the studio’s latest adventure, called Afterparty. What new hell awaits the players…. in hell?
Milo and Lola, a pair of best friends just out of college, are now at the gates of hell without really realizing it. They have no idea how they got here, but one thing is clear almost immediately: Hell is not what they expected. Turns out hell is more of a 9-to-5 deal. During working hours one is tormented by expectations, but outside of working hours it is a central celebration. Minions and humans hang out at one of the many bars and clubs and party together, so… Uh… Torture escapes, and that’s not a metaphor.
After a brief introduction, Milo and Lola meet Sam, a taxi driver on the River Styx, who explains to them a series of hellish events and that if they are to have any chance of leaving, they will have to drink more than Satan himself at his feast. Our heroes and their greedy youth decide that this task will not be so difficult, and begin their adventure. Before that, the duo also met their personal demon, Wormhorn. She’s new to the business, but she does her best to intimidate and torment when time permits.
If you’ve ever played Oxenfree, you’ll quickly recognize the excellent voice-play and well-constructed dialogue scenes. Afterparty is undoubtedly an adult magazine with plenty of thought-provoking themes, in the form of witty jokes, pub swaps and a Twitter-like social media application that all the people and followers use, called Bicker. The gameplay consists of moving around the characters and having dialogues with the henchmen, bartenders and other people you may encounter on your journey.
One of the main mechanisms of the game is the ability to influence conversations based on the type of drink you can consume. Before most historic points, you can stop at one of the local water points and pick up your poison there. Each drink is delicately made with the best ingredients from hell, and as a bonus, Milo or Lola gets a third option for dialogue when they take a sip. These new dialog options continue to change depending on the selection cocktail chosen. Some allow for more daring jokes, while other drinks add a flirty touch. As the game progresses, you’ll find different options depending on where you are, and it’s absolutely fun to see how you yourself react to whatever is intoxicating you at the time.
Milo and Lola’s adventure is certainly strewn with many obstacles and detours. To get out of hell, they have to drink from Satan. The first step is to get into his party first. When you have done so, you will find that Satan does not consider you suitable and will send you on your way with conditions…. before you are admitted to the game with the best. In the story of Afterparty, you’ll meet wonderfully wild characters, all struggling with their own demons. In many of these situations, you will be helping others and enabling them to grow and develop personally. This story, like Oxenfree, is about character development and even the ordinary trials of youth.
Visually and technically, the game does great things with few quirks. Artistically, everything has a familiar style since the studio’s first name, but with a new color palette that is definitely in line with the party’s thematic framework. When a character is speaking, you’ll see a small colored ball above them, making it easy to see who is speaking, which is a welcome visual cue. Hell has overly stylized buildings and grandiose structures worthy of such a place.
I have some difficulty with the technical aspect. The characters don’t intersect, and most of the time you’ll find your duo intersecting with another character or vice versa. While it certainly doesn’t hurt, it’s a little disappointing when it happens so often. I also noticed that performance in manual mode seemed to stutter semi-frequently, with the frame rate dropping for several seconds and sometimes almost half a minute. Again, I generally consider them to be fairly unimportant. Technically, Afterparty is one of the few games with a dynamic touch screen and controller. I really like this feature in games like this, because it makes the game much easier than forcing me to engage with one entry or the other.
If Oxenfree and Afterparty remain their credentials, Night School Studio will quickly establish themselves as leaders in the graphics adventure. Great storylines, unique themed environments, and accessible gameplay that keeps you from getting bored, even without constant player interaction, make for great fun. The dark and witty humor of Afterparty and the development of Milo and Lola’s relationship are enough to get you through this adventure. With the intervention of Satan, your personal demon, and a group of underlings and plebeians who have only hell in mind, a whole story takes shape, some of which is very entertaining.
- Charts – 7.5/10
- Sound – 8.5/10
- Gameplay – 8/10
- Late Complaint – 6.5/10
Final thoughts: GRAND
Follow Milo and Lola, recent college graduates who have just been accepted into Hell, in their search for answers, but most importantly in their return to the land of life by drinking Satan under the table. Hell is a party center and there is a great adventure game here. Dark adult humour, catchy graphics and a story you can totally relate to make Afterparty another great title from developer Night School Studio. It’s a party, not a sleepover.
Alex has been involved in the gaming industry since the release of Nintendo. He turned his hobby into his profession, has been developing games for just over a decade and is now the creative director of the studio.
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