Developer: Night School Studios
Publisher: Night School Studios
Official Site: NightSchoolStudios.com/Afterparty
Release Date: October 29th, 2019
Version Tested: Xbox One
Have you ever found yourself at a party and realized you can’t leave? What if you literally can’t leave because you’re dead?
Night School Studios is also focusing on friendships. This time around, the friends aren’t checking out a spooky town.
In Afterparty, Milo and Lola have checked out. As in they’re dead. And in Hell. Characters dying and not knowing they’re dead has been done quite a bit. Dying and not knowing why they went to hell is relatively new.
Figuring out why Milo and Lola are stuck in “the bad place” is a key aspect of the game. Finding a way out is another.
Unfortunately, a fun premise leads to a game that isn’t as exciting as you might think. Night School Studios has created a game that isn’t going to make people want to stay past closing time.
Night School has managed to put out yet another game that grabs the player with the art style. It’s certainly not photorealistic but there’s something there to the character models.
When you take those models and combine them with a background that allowed the artists to stretch their wings, you’ve got yourself a very pretty game. Where Oxenfree was limited by what you’d expect to see in a creepy rural town, no one knows what Hell looks like.
The Afterparty devs were able to paint on a relatively blank canvass. On that canvass, they managed to paint a picture that makes Hell a place I’d kinda like to spend some time.
Demons and dead people litter the area though none of them seem all that scary. There’s the River Styx and Satan’s house and both are good looking enough that they’d be a sight to see up close.
While the game isn’t perfect and can be downright dull a bit too often, there’s nothing boring at all with the way it looks.
A Likeable Bunch
If there’s one thing Night School can hang its hat on, it’s the ability to write dialogue. The fact that dialogue is what carries this game, from beginning to end, and never really feels stale is quite the accomplishment.
Milo and Lola are both likable characters. There’s also some real heft and some real depth to them.
Something is under the surface. It’s believable that one or both of the main protagonists could have done something they aren’t talking about. Something that has them getting sent to Hell after their deaths.
It helps none of the voice cast are rookies. Janina Gavankar is likely the biggest name for mainstream audiences. She’s relatively new to video game voice acting, but she’s been in all kinds of movies and television shows. Star Wars: Battlefront 2 fans will recognize the voice of Iden Versio right away.
Gavankar and the rest of the cast play off each other well. There aren’t any woodenly delivered lines in Afterparty. It’s just unfortunate a group of very likable characters can’t carry a game that gets duller the longer it goes.
Running Errands is Never All That Fun
What is it about new releases this week and running errands? You might have heard the reports that Death Stranding has players basically taking the roles of glorified UPS deliverymen. Afterparty isn’t quite that bad, but the game has Milo and Lola doing a lot of favors.
This isn’t the kind of game that has people fighting their way out of Hell. This time around, you mostly have to talk your way out. You’re also supposed to find a way to drink your way out.
The problem there is it’s not clear if the myriad of different drinks you can down, do anything at all. Most of the game is about talking to people and finding out what you need to do next in order to get to Satan.
Sometimes that’s entertaining, sometimes it’s monotonous. One particularly boring section of the game has you making your way to the top of a mountain, only to find out you need to go back down to advance the story.
There’s no retrieving an item or talking to someone special at the top. You simply have to go up, then go back down.
Back and forth, up and down, talking to people here and there is the entirety of Afterparty. Anyone who is familiar with Oxenfree shouldn’t be all that surprised. It’s what Night School does and does well. But maybe this time around, it needs to find a new formula to put in the mix.
Verdict: Afterparty is a weird combination of a story you want to see to the end, to see what happens to Milo and Lola, and one you’ll lose interest in before that happens. If the developers had put something, anything into the game that had you doing something besides drinking and talking, it could have been a lot of fun. Instead, it falls well short of what it could have been.
- Scenery is great
- Dialogue is funny
- The mystery is one you want to solve
- Walking and talking is the entire game
- Errand running gets old