Publisher: Night School Studio
Reviewed on: Xbox One (Xbox One S unit)
Also available for: PS4, PC, Mac
Cast: Janina Gavankar, Khoi Dao, Dave Fennoy, Ashly Burch, Erin Yvtte, Jackie Tohn, Jon Lipow, Sarah Elmaleh, Paul Bates
Developer: Night School Studio
Lead Developer: Bryant Cannon
Writers: Hannah Filipski (Narrative Designer), Adam Hines (Game Director)
Lead Game Designer: Joe Gatling
Studio Director: Sean Krankel
Developer Night School Studio’s first game Oxenfree was a semi-horror supernatural story focused on a cast of teenage characters with a central serious theme about loneliness. Although Afterparty has its serious moments and retains a similar art-style and gameplay, the games are very different, so don’t come looking for more Oxenfree. Afterparty is a comedy first-and-foremost with a dark sense of humour, a foul-mouth and it’s quite funny, which is the game’s biggest strength, although it may not be for everyone, the writing is solid hellish laughs.
Lola (voiced by Star Wars: Battlefront II’s Janina Gavnkar) and Milo (voiced by Detective Pikachu’s Khoi Dao) are best friends who just landed in Hell. A shock to the system, as I’m sure you can understand, has them inquiring how to escape their immortal torture and luckily for them their psychopomp — Hell’s cab drivers — Sam Hill (voiced by Horizon: Zero Dawn’s Ashly Burch) can help them out. There’s a clause written into Hell’s rules by Satan himself it turns out; beat the Prince of Darkness in a drinking game and you’ll be sent back to your lives on Earth.
The mission to beat Satan in a drinking game isn’t as simple as finding, and challenging him, as Lola and Milo discover. Getting into Satan’s palace party is the first hurdle and even once they meet Satan (voiced by The Walking Dead’s Dave Finoi), it still isn’t the frat party ease of showmanship from the dark lord they wanted. Lola and Milo are soon travelling too and from the different islands around hell, meeting demons, mingling with humans and partaking in a lot of drinking on a mission to save their souls and get Satan to agree to their challenge.
Out-of-context Afterparty may look like a very sinister game as you walk downhills with humans strung up hanging from nooses and dark alleyways with demons looming about, but the game’s world and characters all introduce themselves with a joke, including said hanging humans. The art style of Afterparty could have been used for a very sinister journey through the underworld, though. Giant skull figures, tall, tanky looking demons and various tormenting devices are found across Hell, but once you get to talking to them you soon realise that most of them just view their day-job as just that, a nine-to-five. Mingling with the fine folks of Hell in bars you’ll meet several interesting characters with love lives, job problems and even bingo tampering issues.
SCNTFC who also worked on Oxenfree’s soundtrack comprises the original music for Afterparty and there are some fantastic songs here that I’ve already been listening to on Spotify including the boppy main piece, ‘Hades Gonna Hate.’
The conversations are at the heart of Afterparty, just as it was with Oxenfree, but this time you’ll be doing a lot of it intoxicated as either Lola or Milo. It’s not just shaky screen effects and slurred words either as drinking different drinks in Afterparty allows you to open up unique conversation choice. Certain drinks, like the ‘Liquid Courage’ will give you, as the name probably suggests, more courageous conversation choices, while others will open up other options that can make you sound like an 80’s surfer or even turn you into a little flirtatious minx.
There are lots of characters alongside Satan and Sam you’ll meet on the journey and they make the adventure your adult version of a Saturday morning cartoon. This includes your own ‘Personal Demon’ called Wormhorn (voiced by Oxenfree’s Erin Yvette) who puts Lola and Milo through some personal torture throughout the adventure in a way that helps you discover who the two of them were on Earth.