• John Bush

Game Review #516: Afterparty (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Julia Oh


Developer: Night School Studio Publisher: Night School Studio Category: Adventure Release Date: 3.6.2020 Price: $19.99



Watch the Trailer

Buy Afterparty from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.


It’s Satan’s World, We’re Just Living in it

In Afterparty, you take control of Milo and Lola, lifelong friends and recent college graduates who find themselves in Hell -- why and how is a mystery that unravels as you progress. The two barely escape their first day of eternal torment as the underworld, unsurprisingly, runs on corporate 9 to 5. While demons and humans use the night to drink away their stress, Milo and Lola traverse Hell with the help of their new friend Sam, a demonic cabbie, in a quest to take advantage of Hell’s single loophole: outdrink Satan, and he’ll return you to your life on earth.



Graphics/Audio

The voice acting is superlative and definitely the outstanding factor in this entire game. Graphically, Afterparty is a neon feast with nicely-done foreground bokeh. Unfortunately, character animations can be unpolished in places, with characters not walking so much as gliding – sometimes phasing right through an NPC. A couple of small hiccups I ran into were fully loaded subtitles with missing audio and, particularly during the interludes in Sam’s cab, frame rate drops and stuttering. All in all, nothing game-breaking, just a little distracting.



Gameplay

I love a good narrative-driven game where dialogue choices can shape a unique experience. Unfortunately, Afterparty is pretty low stakes. Your dialogue choices are affected by the mixed drinks and cocktails you funnel into your duo: when you drink, your initial two dialogue choices are supplemented by a third. Figuring out which drinks to order in what situation makes for a fun mechanic. However, there’s really no consequence should you choose the “wrong” drink or dialogue choice, making for a lackluster and disappointing experience. In fact, in most instances I chose “sober” responses and progressed just fine through the story. I was even in a situation where I presumably chose a dead end reply, but the conversation re-routed as if I had chosen the other dialogue option, carrying the narrative on as if nothing had happened.


Your gameplay experience does branch depending on a few choices made – how you decide to bum a ticket to Satan’s party, for example – but they all inevitably converge no matter how you perform or what decisions you make. Only a specific few choices towards the end of the game actually affects which of the two endings you experience, neither being traditionally “good” or “bad.”


Another issue I ran into with Afterparty was the backtracking. Being a narrative-heavy game, much of the time used navigating Milo and Lola from point to point is strategically interlaced with dialogue. However, sometimes there would just be silence, turning the game into a sidescroller set at a frustratingly slow plod.



Conclusion

As far as the story goes, Afterparty is pretty straightforward, but what it may lack in mystery and complexity it makes up for in incredible voice acting and genuine humor. I truly can’t sing enough praises for Milo and Lola’s voice actors, Khoi Dao and Janina Gavankar. The well-executed comedy and sarcasm had me genuinely laughing from the get go (YMMV I guess depending on your sense of humor). Unfortunately, for a game based in Hell, Afterparty is quite light on punishment. Inconsequential dialogue and drink choices makes for an ironically lukewarm experience while the backtracking makes for, well, monotonous hell.


Score: 7/10


Buy Afterparty from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.


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*A game code was provided for review purposes.

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