Afterparty is Night School Studio's second game, after the team's debut title Oxenfree in 2016. Instead of a coming-of-age story with mysterious happenings, however, Afterparty gets right to the point. Two best friends, Milo and Lola, are in Hell. Why? Who knows, your average hardworking demon isn't authorized to give out that kind of information. They've got jobs to do, after all. Still, the night is young, and before the torment begins the next day, Milo and Lola learn of an interesting catch: Satan loves to party and drink. If they can outdrink Satan, they can get out of Hell.
This results in a fun, wacky journey through the nightlife and club scenes of Hell. Vivid colors, witty dialogue, and a great soundtrack are some of the highlights as you gargle some pretty potent potables. Your choice of drink even affects what dialogue options are available, in turn affecting how you progress through the story and what ending you'll get. While it's a great adventure, technical problems mar the experience right now, as the frame rate suffers whenever traveling between areas and dialogue would get glitched, repeating at times. It's still a good experience, just one that suffers more than it should.
$20Bottom line: A charming, alcoholic romp through Hell that suffers from technical issues.
- Fantastic art design
- Fun dialogue options
- Unique drinking mechanic
- Excellent voice acting
- Major frame rate problems when traveling
- Dialogue sometimes overlapped or repeated
Afterparty is all about drinking and talking
The first thing that stands out in this non-traditional trip to Hell is the excellent dialogue. Much like Oxenfree, conversations flow at a natural rate, almost as liberally as the alcohol. You can choose from two dialogue options or a special third option that depends on just what kind of corrosive cocktail you've imbibed. Some drinks let you impersonate a pirate captain; others offer straightforward liquid courage. This opens an interesting gameplay system as choosing your drink is almost as important as choosing your words. Do you fancy sparring wits with entities older that time? Well, you'll have to if you hope to get out. Occasionally though, I noticed an annoying bug where side conversations would repeat themselves, playing at the same time as other dialogue. It only happened a couple of times, but it was extremely annoying when it did, making it nearly impossible to understand anything.
You'll control both Milo and Lola, with the exact character swapping from time to time based on your choices. Sometimes, you'll even have to go through some drinking games, like beer pong, stacking glasses, and even a dance-off. The controls can be a little finicky, though it's nothing too tricky once you get a bit of practice. There's also a ghoulish social media platform you can check in on called Bicker, which is essentially Twitter except without the pretense of people ever being nice. On Bicker, you can find some funny jokes and pictures based on your escapades through the night. Our wholesome teen duo have their phones, so you'll occasionally even see other humans and demons Tweeting-er, Bickering, in real-time.
Afterparty touts an impressive cast, with seasoned voice actors like Janina Gavankar as Lola and Khoi Dao as Milo. They're joined Ashly Burch and Erin Yvette as the demons Sam and Wormhorn respectively, while Dave Fennoy lends his dulcet tones and portrays none other than Satan. Alanah Pearce also lends her voice to a particularly fitting role. Everyone turns in a fantastic performance, which aids the immersion. Is the idea of Hell as a bureaucratic place where demons just care for the nightlife kind of absurd? Yes, but the performances completely sell me on it.
Afterparty has a loud, colorful aesthetic
Burning planes of torment? No, it's all parties and devilish music. Neon purple, pink, and light greens dominate the landscape, which might seem like an odd choice for Hell, but it works rather well for this unique aesthetic. Frequently, I found myself stopping and taking a look at the background detail or work put into the different clubs. Regions of Hell feel distinct, despite the strong, overarching party theme. There's also usually some funny background gags, like demons who have partied too hard crashing or complaining about having to return to work the next day.
These strong color choices paint a vivid, unique portrait of Hell and compliment the soundtrack well. The upbeat tempo is fitting for the bar hopping and partying the protagonists undertake. The soundtrack was done by Andrew Rohrmann, aka scntfc, who also did the soundtrack for Oxenfree. It's usually frenetic and energetic, perfect for the drinking games and dance competition chaos you'll undergo. Still, there are a few quieter moments, somber tunes that play in the brief breaks that Milo and Lola get to just talk with each other.
Unfortunately, the frame rate isn't where it needs to be. When you're walking the streets of Hell, sometimes you'll need to call for a taxi to traverse from one island or region to the next. Whenever you do, like clockwork, the frame rate will tank. Not a small, sporadic drop either - usually, it would slow to a crawl, stuttering and stopping for easily ten to fifteen seconds. It also tended to do this whenever the game autosaves. While that's by no means the majority of the game, it's not insignificant either - Afterparty is a few hours long, and you're traveling back and forth constantly.
Summing up the binge drinking in Afterparty
Wrapping things up, I really do like Afterparty. It's fun, colorful, and stylish, with smart, just-awkward-enough-for-Hell dialogue. The protagonists are interesting, the demonic characters they interact with given a unique spin. Plus, this version of Hell is, ultimately, pretty fun! At night, anyways. Unfortunately, the technical issues that are present right now bring things down a bit. The frame rate tanking every single time you travel is bad enough, but the problems with dialogue repeating also weigh it down.
If you absolutely love these types of games, or you're really, really eager for something new, then it's still worth checking out, especially since it's only $20 USD. If you're a little more hesitant, I'd wait, at least until some of these issues are possibly fixed in a patch. Afterparty is included in Xbox Game Pass, so if you intend to play on Xbox, you do have another option.
Hope you've got a strong liver.
Afterparty is a game from Night School Studio about two best friends, Milo and Lola. They've ended up in Hell, but there's a chance of escape - if they can out-drink Satan. Time to start partying.
We reviewed Afterparty on an Xbox One X, with a copy provided by the publisher.
I don't know what is going on with it but even after 3 patches it is still just as rubbish performance wise as it was at launch. It's not even Xbox One X enhanced which could smooth things over. Unity is not the best option for smooth performance on weak CPU's though as it is more suited to fast PC CPU's.
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