The team over at Night School Studio have just released their latest adventure-story game. This time instead of following teens in a coming-of-age supernatural mystery story that was seen in their first game Oxenfree, we’re now heading to h-e-double-hockey-sticks. That’s right; Satan’s lair will now be your background in the studio’s latest adventure entitled Afterparty. What fresh hell will await players…in hell?
Milo and Lola, a couple of best pals that have just graduated college, are now standing at hell’s gates without any real notice. Having no idea how they’ve ended up here, one thing is for certain nearly immediately, hell isn’t what they expected. As it turns out, hell runs more like a 9 to 5 business. During work hours, folks are tortured per expectations, however after hours, it’s party central. Minions and humans hang out in any of the numerous bars and clubs, and party together letting the day’s…uhh…tortures slip away, and I don’t say that metaphorically.
After a brief introduction, Milo and Lola meet Sam, a taxi driver on the River Styx who explains to them some of hell’s happenings, and that if they want a chance at leaving, they have to outdrink Satan himself at his party. Our characters and their eager young attitude decide that this task won’t be that hard at all, and embark on their adventure. Early on, the duo is also introduced to their own personal demon Wormhorn. She’s new at the job, but does her best to intimidate and torture when scheduling sees fit.
If you had the pleasure of playing Oxenfree, you’ll quickly recognize the outstanding voice over talent and well-crafted dialog scripts. Afterparty is definitely mature rated with lots of suggestive themes that come in the form of witty banter, bar-exchanges, and a Twitter styled knock off social media app that all the humans and minions utilize called Bicker. Gameplay comes in the form of moving the characters around independently, and then engaging in a choose-your-own dialog selection with minions, barkeeps, and anyone else you may encounter on your journey.
One of the highlight mechanics of the game is being able to influence conversations based on what drink you may be having. Prior to most story points, you’ll be able to stop at any of the local watering holes and pick your poison. Each drink is finely crafted from hell’s best ingredients, and as an added bonus, will allow Milo or Lola a third dialog option when they take a sip. These new dialog options are further modified dependent on what choice cocktail is selected. Some will allow more courageous banter, while other drinks give a flirty edge. Throughout the game you’ll find several choices depending on where you’re currently wandering about, and it’s absolutely fun to see what you’re slightly inebriated-self responds with.
The adventure that Milo and Lola face is certainly one of many roadblocks and diversions. You see, to get out of hell they need to outdrink Satan. Step one though is even getting in the doors of his party. Once you do accomplish this, you’ll find Satan doesn’t find you aptly qualified and will send you on your way with some… prerequisites… before you’ll be allowed to party with the best. The story of Afterparty has you meeting some amazingly wild characters each struggling with their own personal demons. For many of these situations, you’ll aid others and allow them to personally grow as well. This story, much in the same way Oxenfree was, is all about character development and even just the general trials and tribulations of being youthful.
Visually and technically the game does some great things with only some minor pitfalls. Artistically, everything has a style already established from the studio’s first title, but with a new color palette that definitely speaks to the party thematic setting. When a character speaks, you’ll see a small colored speech bubble icon above them, which helps easily indicate who’s chatting, and a welcomed visual guidance. All of hell features exaggerated styled buildings and grandiose structures befitting of such a place.
I do have a couple of squabbles on the technical side of things. Characters don’t have collision with one another, and more than frequently you’ll find either your duo walking through another character, or vice versa. While certainly not detrimental to anything, it’s a bit of a letdown when it happens as much as it does. I also found that performance seems to stutter semi-frequently in handheld mode, where I’d watch the frame rate drop for several seconds to sometimes nearly half a minute in places. Again though, I consider these fairly minor overall here. On the positive technical side, Afterparty is one of seemingly fewer games these days that offer the dynamic touch screen and controller support. I absolutely love this feature in titles like this, as it allows me to play with much more ease than being forced to solely engage with one input or the other.
Night School Studio is going to quickly find themselves a genre leader when it comes to the graphic adventure styled games like this if Oxenfree and Afterparty remain their benchmarks. Great storytelling, unique thematic settings, and highly accessible gameplay that doesn’t leave you feeling bored even with a lack of constant player interaction make for a great time. Afterparty’s dark and witty humor and character relationship development between Milo and Lola alone are enough to see you through this adventure. Mixing in the cast of Satan, your own personal demon, and the many minions and plebs just mulling about hell, creates an entire storyline that’s a treat to be a part of.
- Graphics - 7.5/107.5/10
- Sound - 8.5/108.5/10
- Gameplay - 8/108/10
- Lasting Appeal - 6.5/106.5/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Follow Milo and Lola, recent college graduates having just been inducted into hell as they search for answers, but more importantly, try and find a way out back to the land of living via drinking Satan under the table. Hell is party central and there’s a great adventure game to be had here. Dark, mature humor, vibrant visuals, and a storyline that’s a blast to be a part of, make Afterparty another great title from developer Night School Studio. Hell is a party, and one that’s not a snooze fest.