Game Reviewed: Afterparty
Publisher: Night School Studio
Developer: Night School Studio
Reviewers: Naomi Norbez and Jonathan McKee
Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, Switch, PlayStation 4
ERSB Rating: M
Remember when you graduated college, and made your first steps into the “real world”? Well, what if right after that happened, you died and went to hell?
Well, that’s the question that Night School Studio’s Afterparty asks. We follow recent grads Milo and Lola through their afterlife, as they face demons, drink lots of alcohol, and try to find a way to get back to the land of the living.
Need I even go on?
Well, if your kids happened to have already played it, here’s a glimpse at the content and our honest two cents.
What Parents Need to Know
Not really. This isn’t a game whose focus is violence. Instead, its focus is on interacting with other characters, solving minor puzzles, and playing minigames. You do all this to try to get into Satan’s drinking party, and once you’re in, you have to win his drinking game.
The major focus of the game is not fighting, but talking and drinking, which we will get to in the Miscellaneous section.
Yep. The game uses a lot of strong language, so expect words like f**k and s**t to be thrown around by the characters.
Yeah, there are quite a few references to sexual content in the dialogue.
This is a game about hell, after all, and not necessarily a Biblically accurate portrayal. There are demons, discussion of death, religion, God, and Satan, and a fictional depiction of hell itself.
The main focus of this game is talking. You’re given a variety of dialogue options to choose from as you chat with people, similar to a Telltale game, and sometimes you need to convince people to do things you want. This is a game about interacting with others, not necessarily about fighting them.
Drinking alcohol is also a big focus. There is a special mechanic for it: you get a cup that empties over time, and certain dialogue options are unlocked by different drinks. The screen blurs and shakes as you get more drunk too. I was wondering if this would be a game discussing alcoholism and the effects it has on young people, but the drinking is basically set-dressing for the real story, when you get right down to it.
From a gaming perspective, the graphics are beautiful. Dirty neon cityscapes populate hell, making for a intriguing place to explore. The characters are interesting and kids think they are fun to talk with. The dialogue tree is done really well—it’s been refined from the studio’s previous game, Oxenfree, and it’s even better than it was in that game.
A Child’s Perspective:
This game is not for kids, period. And if you are a Christian, it’s completely against everything you stand for. So it’s really not for your teenagers either.
Afterparty is a messy game, Its story is twisted and complicated, showing the deeper sides of its two main characters and asking what it means to truly mature as a person. The game will examine how we as people perceive ourselves and act out our insecurities.
I wasn’t a fan of the gameplay. The minigames are engaging but come across as finicky from time to time, and the last minigame is so hard it took me about ten tries to complete. Perhaps its difficulty was the point, but it really pulled me out of the story.
Minigames aside, the puzzles can be fun and engaging, mainly because they’re based on interacting with people, and users will find the people in the game to be interesting characters.
Users will like the social feed that updates with random people’s thoughts on your mistakes and victories, and a detailed illustrated map of hell. Afterparty has a lot of little touches that will give gamers a positive experience.
But . . .
I can’t help but feel conflicted about this game. Its casual attitude towards things like hell, the demonic, life after death, and even alcoholism ranges from concerning to frightening. This is a difficult game for me to process, because in any other circumstance, I’d highly recommend it—it’s an interesting, mature title that asks what it really means to grow up. But because of those things, I’d steer clear of it.
Naomi Norbez has been making, playing, and critiquing games since she was a kid. In her free time she makes text adventures, draws comics, and watches birds. She hopes you find her reviews helpful and values any thoughts on them you'd like to share.