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Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Night School Studio
Release Date: Oct. 29, 2019


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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Afterparty'

by Adam Pavlacka on Oct. 8, 2019 @ 9:00 a.m. PDT

Set in Hell, Afterparty is a raucous fantasy-adventure centered around two recently deceased college grads, Milo and Lola, who are desperately trying to find a way back to Earth.

There have been many different takes on Hell and Satan over the years. Dante's Inferno (the original text, not the EA game) is a classic. "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey" was a lighthearted take, while Netflix's "Lucifer" (based on Neil Gaiman's comic creation) presents a more nuanced look. In Afterparty, Night School Studio offers up a version of Hell that is part torture chamber, part dive bar, and a Satan who will let you return to the land of the living — if you can drink him under the table.

I got a chance to play the first hour-and-a-half of Afterparty last week, and I walked into it not quite knowing what to expect. After a bit of a slow start, the story picks up, and I found myself both intrigued and eager to play more.

Afterparty is more or less an interactive choose-your-own-adventure title, with a sprinkling of minigames throughout. In the early game, you don't have to worry about having hair-trigger reflexes to survive. The core of the game is exploration and adventure, while also exploring the relationship between the two main characters, Lola (Janina Gavankar) and Milo (Khoi Dao). Interestingly enough, you don't choose one or the other. You actually play as both.

Lola and Milo are your typical college kids who are ready to graduate when they find out they're dead. Don't know how. Don't know why. Just that they're dead. And they're in Hell. After being assigned a personal demon, the two are spared from immediate torture due to the fact that it's quitting time. Torture is a job, and demons don't work overtime. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, our protagonists make friends with a cabbie, who spills the beans on Satan's loophole.

Exploring Hell in Afterparty reminded me of playing the classic LucasArts adventure games. The world is drawn in a distinct art style, there are certain triggers that lead to new areas (or actions to perform), and progression is based on solving puzzles. The first few challenges that presented themselves were pretty straightforward, but I'm guessing that's because I only had access to the early game. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the solutions become more complex down the road.

One of the core elements of Afterparty is the dialog system. It's used to advance the plot as well as to provide ways for Lola and Milo to interact with other characters. By default, Lolo and Milo always have two dialog choices. These are fairly standard replies, and according to the developers, it is possible to get through the bulk of the game using them, but if you want variety (and more interesting responses), you'll want to grab a drink and open up the third option.

If you were curious about how drinking works as a gameplay mechanic, this is it. Every bar you enter (and there are a lot of bars in Hell) has a selection of drinks. Each drink is a dialog modifier that unlocks that third option. For example, a Jeffrey Bomber makes you flirty, while Woland's Margarita gives you courage, and the Black Death makes you a witty asshole. Using these drink-powered options isn't a direct line to an easy win (the wrong choice will get you quickly shot down), but they can open up progression paths that you might otherwise miss.

There is also a version of Twitter in Hell called Bicker. Some of the comments are background noise, while others may give you hints about what to do next.

Choosing your path is fundamental to the adventure in Afterparty. The first hour is linear, but after that, the game opens up and sends you on your merry way. It's up to you to decide where to go, what to do, and in what order. The tasks you have to complete can involve multiple steps, which is where the opportunity for minigames comes in.

During my time with Afterparty, I only got to play one minigame (a basic "Simon Says" rhythm game), but the developers promise multiple options, including beer pong and a chugging contest. It's an extra layer of variety as you adventure through Hell.

What makes me want to come back for more is the promise of multiple endings. The developers said that there are multiple paths through Afterparty, along with multiple endings (including not wanting to leave Hell). All of it is supposed to flow from the choices you make and the people you interact with. It seems like a big promise to make, as many games with multiple endings often end up being small variants on the same thing, but if Afterparty can deliver here, there will be plenty of reasons to relive the adventure.

Look for Afterparty to hit PS4, Xbox One (also for Xbox Game Pass subscribers) and PC on Oct. 29, just in time for Halloween revelry.

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