Welp, you’re dead. Not great. And… you’re in hell. The 5th Circle, you overhear. Even worse.
And… there’s a nightclub?
Night School Studio’s follow-up to Oxenfree throws you right in the deep end. The deepest. 2016’s Oxenfree, currently available in Xbox Game Pass (and a must-play) has been described as a combination of “Freaks and Geeks” and “Poltergeist”. Afterparty?
“Superbad and Beetlejuice,” Night School Studio’s Adam Hines and Sean Krankel say in unison at GDC, where I was able to go hands-on with 20ish minutes of Afterparty.
Crazy night of partying? Check; the game takes place in one adventurous evening.
Two newly-dead people figuring out their place in the afterlife? Another check; protagonists Lola and Milo, a couple of recent college grads aren’t sure why they’re in hell, the rules, or why everyone seems to be partying.
Michael Keaton chewing up the scenery? Unconfirmed at this time, but the comparison checks out.
Afterparty‘s Hell seems… I mean, it’s not great. But not as terrible as you may have been led to believe; in fact, everyone’s partying, and nobody goes harder than the Prince of Darkness himself. Still, Lola and Milo don’t intend to stay. They want to go home. And that’s your quest: to outparty Satan and get the hell out of there.
Like Oxenfree, Afterparty‘s gameplay largely revolves around the mechanics of conversation; perhaps the best dialogue mechanics in gaming. This time out, Hell’s many watering holes and their attendant beverages broaden your dialogue choices and show a different side of Lola and Milo.
“We’re trying to emulate the feeling when you go out on a bar crawl and you know if I drink too many whiskies, I’ll get pissed off. If I drink to many tequilas I’m going to flirt with everyone,” Hines told me. “Now it’s pitched to a crazy supernatural hilt where those drinks… will enable the player to role play as the mood or vibe that you want per bar.”
In the GDC demo, Lola gets super aggressive drinking a “Brass Bull,” leading to the tensest game of beer pong I’ve ever partaken in, against a “pong demon” even. It seems silly – and it is – but charismatic voice acting from talent like Janina Gavankar (Iden Versio from Star Wars Battlefront II) and Dave Fennoy (Lee Everett from Telltale’s The Walking Dead) make this take on hell anything but.
“Even though you’re going on this crazy adventure, and you’re trying to outdrink a bunch of people, by halfway through the game you will have a very different take on Milo and Lola,” Krankel concluded “There’s a lot going on underneath the surface of this game that people might not be expecting.”
Afterparty will release on Xbox One in 2019 and will be part of the Xbox Game Pass library from day one. Cheers to that!
Note: Afterparty’s Sean Krankel will join Major Nelson Radio Live this Friday at 3PM local time in the Dragonfly Theater. Bring your questions if you’re attending PAX East, or watch live here.