I could’ve guessed that Satan would be a heavy drinker.
I mean, you’d probably drink too if you were the one responsible for making people miserable, day in and day out. Although that isn’t to say he isn’t a popular guy. The demons sure love him and his wild parties.
You’ll get to know Satan pretty well when you jump into Night School Studio’s most recent title, Afterparty. In fact, you’ll get to know him plus his friends and family, not to mention his intense drinking habits. He’s actually a pretty deep guy, believe it or not.
In Afterparty you play as both Milo and Lola, two recently graduated college students getting ready to start their new lives as fully-fledged adults. Lola plans to move away, following her dreams, and Milo wants to stay at home to help his mother with her store. The game’s two protagonists are having a decent enough time at a graduation party when suddenly they’re whisked away to the deep, dark place known to all as hell. Confused and afraid, the two discover they’re recently dead and their only hope for getting back home is to out-drink Satan himself. But it won’t be as easy as it sounds – and it doesn’t sound easy at all.
Afterparty has some very simple gameplay. You control both characters in turn throughout the game, and while you’re traversing hell you’ll be in charge of making some of the big dialogue decisions for the characters. Usually you’ll have two choices on opposite sides of the spectrum: “Oh sorry” or “F YOU” to give just one example. You’ll also usually have a third option if you’ve been drinking; these choices are either very bold or really strange depending on how drunk you are or what you’ve been drinking. However you choose to respond, the other characters will respond in kind. Unlike most games where you have to make careful decisions, it can be hard to decipher what the right choice to make in Afterparty is: some demons respond well to aggression and others don’t.
Afterparty focuses a lot on drinking. Have I mentioned that? Needless to say, despite its cutesy art style, this is definitely not a game for young players. I mean, this is a game where your goal is to get so piss-drunk you beat Satan to get out of hell and get your life back. But there’s also killing, smoking, sex, cursing, and a handful of other nasty, dirty things that those who have never heard the word “cocknuckle” should really steer clear of. But for those of us who don’t require our mommy to tuck us in at night, Afterparty offers up some hilarious, albeit very mature, fun.
There are a bunch of other things that you’ll be doing other than simply talking (although there is a lot of that) when you’re wandering about in hell. You’ll also compete in a dance contest, attend a demon’s trial, lose your self-consciousness and oodles of other dangerous, exciting, terrifying adventures. The entire time you’ll be dealing with your personal demon, Wormhorn, who interrupts your progress by bringing up painful memories from your lives and even trying to force the two protagonists apart.
Unfortunately, in spite of Afterparty‘s attempt to give its protagonists deep backstories, it feels hard to relate to either Milo or Lola. You’re never really given an idea as to why these two ended up in hell, but you’ve got to imagine that it’s because they’re not very good people. As you progress through the story, it becomes more obvious that they don’t seem to really like each other all that much. It gets harder and harder to relate to or feel bad for these characters, and towards the end of Afterparty, I found the story go downhill as a result: I felt worse for Satan than I did the game’s protagonists, which just didn’t feel right.
On a more technical note, Afterparty has a few graphical issues. I encountered instances of lag where, in busy areas, the characters would stop moving for a short period before catching back up with the background. There are also various clipping issues, like characters walking inside of each other, and NPCs that you were meant to be having a conversation with getting stuck on the environment. I even had a character, Sam the taxi driver, get her hand stuck in the air for about an hour. As a result of the bizarre glitch she drove her taxi stood up, rather than sitting behind the wheel. Another scene later on, when my characters comfortably sat on their stools to talk with Sam, she instead stood inside her stool rather than sitting down.
Once I’d encountered it, the glitch stuck around until the very end of the game, even after I’d quit and reloaded. It’s not something horribly game-breaking – in fact it gave me quite a few laughs – but it’s less than ideal.
Afterparty also has a number of sound issues, especially dialogue-related. Oftentimes when talking with characters they would speak at the same time, and not in a purposeful way. As a result, I missed quite a lot of dialogue. There were also times when the game would give me the opportunity to move on from an area, but other characters would still be talking and standing completely still. Only when the conversation was completely over would they start moving, making the walk to the new area quiet and awkward.
Night School Studios’ new title offers up a good laugh, and not just at the unfortunate glitches. Its art style is adorable, and the neon lights and bloody backgrounds truly make it feel like you’ve jumped down into hell. But while the story is intriguing, it feels too slow at times and its main protagonists fall flat against an otherwise fantastic cast of characters. Despite its well-written dialogue and extensive-world building, Afterparty‘s technical problems are too numerous to overlook. Multiple playthroughs will yield different endings, but with its biggest issues being quite glaring, it might be something to pass on until a few updates have been made.