Afterparty Review - It's Like Hanging Out With A Bunch Of Drunks

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Afterparty is filled with irritating characters and over-written dialog sections interspersed with drinking games and questionable moral choices.

Afterparty isn't as clever as it thinks it is. That's a shame, too, because the concept of the game is immediately intriguing, but unfortunately it quickly becomes bogged down with overly-written, unnecessarily vulgar plot dumps and a number of persistently irritating characters. While the game does offer branching story paths and an honest portrayal of alcoholism, those things alone aren't enough to pull the whole picture into proper focus.

Afterparty sees players taking control of two protagonists, Milo and Lola, who have recently died in some unspecified fashion, presumably right before, after, or during their senior prom. Milo and Lola are sent to Hell for their sins, and right before they can be sentenced for all of eternity a whistle blows in the distance signifying the end of the work day and the two kids are left to wander around the nine circles of damnation until tomorrow.

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It's here where the main problems in Afterparty start to take form. Walking around is tediously slow, and just getting from one side of an area to another can take an extremely annoying amount of time in the early game. Later on certain areas do allow the characters to jog slightly faster, but multiple occasions see players either moving at a snail's pace or simply standing around waiting to be told what to do. This is most often a cause of the constant, ever-present dialog happening between characters on screen, whether it be Lola and Milo speaking to each other or other NPCs talking in the background. The game also suffers from intense frame rate hits during location changes and when walking though large backgrounds, making long journeys from one area to another even more tedious.

The developers of Afterparty are clearly proud of their writing, and yet so much of it is delivered by unlikable, irritating characters. While Lola is easier to identify with and not quite as whiny as Milo, it's the demons these two kids meet along their journey which really begin to push the player's tolerance for long-winded exposition dumps. The two biggest offenders are Sam, a taxi driver and the player's only source of transportation between the islands of Hell, and an incredibly annoying creature named Wormhorn who acts as a personal demon to the game's two protagonists. Both of these characters ramble on and on for minutes on end, and although some of the individual lines can be both humorous and mentally disturbing the end result sees all of it blending together in a gibbering mess.

Dialog is not only the main feature of the game, it's one of the few ways players have to interact with the environment around them. Puzzles and plot progression are solved almost entirely through words, and the game's central mechanic, drinking, opens up even more dialog options depending on the type of alcohol (here called Hellcohol for obvious reasons) imbibed. While an interesting idea in theory, the amount of time players spend sipping a glass of alcohol, which causes the screen to get all woozy ala drinking in Grand Theft Auto, leads to much squinting and headaches as they then have to try and discern what the dialog choice text boxes say though their drunken haze. If this is an intended feature meant to duplicate the feeling of being drunk, it succeeds, but at the cost of an enjoyable gameplay experience.

The game is also needlessly crude and vulgar at times, leaning more towards a South Park by way of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy sense of humor. Multiple juxtapositions which should be good wells of comedy to draw from, such as demons and humans drinking together during their off time and a Hell which is more bureaucratic and posh than downright evil, feel squandered by the game's constant need to insert meta jokes about this being a video game and the genuine feeling of enjoyment Afterparty seems to derive from making players suffer through being yelled at about their character's past decisions. Again, if this is something done to replicate the feeling of annoyance and irritation one may feel in Hell, it succeeds, but in a way which makes it hard to want to continue playing at times.

Afterparty also contains a number of drinking games, such as beer pong and Ladder to Heaven, which players will have to win in order to complete their ultimate goal of out-drinking the devil himself. Satan is by far the best-written character in the game, and each moment he is on screen feels like both a reprieve from the nonsense which came before and a slightly depressing look at what could have been if all the game's characters were written as well.

Afterparty is a game with a desperate need for a skip dialog button, but if one existed the majority of the title's gameplay would be lost. Although some of the moral questions and choices forced upon the game's two protagonists were rather intriguing in theory, too many winks to the camera and too much of an emphasis on unnecessary crudeness make the whole experience feel less like a game and more like a story being told to the player by a teenager who really, really wanted the people hearing the story to think the storyteller is cool. While humor is always subjective and there are certainly players who could find things to like about Afterparty, anyone who suffers from motion sickness or has an aversion to long-winded conversations with irritating people punctuated by stuttering gameplay should probably stay away.

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Afterparty releases October 29, 2019 for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. A PS4 code was supplied to Screen Rant for the purposes of this review.

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5 (Fairly Good)
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