We don’t want to surprise anyone, but the Hell of Afterparty can be a little messed up.
At a recent preview event in San Francisco, developer Night School Studio gave us the opportunity to sit down with the game largely as players will get to experience it in just a few short weeks when it comes to Xbox One and with Xbox Game Pass on October 29.
Things start off at an end-of-college mixer that evokes awkward coming of age humor of movies like “Booksmart” and shows like “Freaks and Geeks.” It’s a smart, almost horror movie oriented intro — main characters Lola and Milo are young, messed up, awkward, funny people with a lifetime’s worth of relationship in-jokes, and anyone who’s felt remotely out of place will probably be able to relate at least a little to how painful things are.
And that’s before everything goes sideways, and, of course, downways.
If there’s one thing that Afterparty makes clear, over and over, it’s that things just aren’t what they seem. Whether that’s Hell, the people in it, or what they do there, there’s multiple levels — rings, if you prefer — to everything. And much of that is going to depend on the decisions the player is making for the ways in which Lola and Milo respond to the things going on around them.
This is complicated by booze, because even in Hell, drinking makes everything more complicated. Or maybe simpler? Either way, Lola and Milo are frequently given the option to drink, which in turns provides additional dialogue options during the regular conversations they have with the denizens and unwitting patrons of Hell. It’s not just about being a little buzzed in Afterparty. Different drinks enable entirely different conversation strategies, whether they be “romantic,” drunkenly confident, or a host of other options tied to the drink mixing bible of Hell.
Milo and Lola will need the drinks to deal with, well, Hell.
Afterparty‘s Hell isn’t your usual afterlife punishment. It’s disarmingly banal after a welcome party that leans into the “of your own making” part of the old saying, and it’s also, apparently, aggressively unionized. Hell has a strict workday schedule, and everyone sticks to it: humans, demons, and devils. Lola and Milo show up just as the work day is ending and are left to figure out just what Hell is. They meet people who seem personable and nice, accommodating, even supportive of the pair as they try to get their bearings, only to realize that those people are maybe down there for a reason.
Some of those reasons seem awfully petty, but others are unexpectedly shocking — hence the messed up thing I mentioned before. Serial killers seem like they’re just the start of what Afterparty has lined up, and even early on, Night School is unafraid to tie it to a punchline. It’s not for the fainthearted, and you might feel a little guilty for laughing.
Lola and Milo get to Hell with just 19 or 20 memories of their life, other than a very basic understanding of who they are. They don’t remember how they died, and as importantly, they don’t remember why they’re in Hell. Milo and Lola’s goal is to get out of Hell via an ancient loophole: if you can outdrink Satan, you get to go back to Earth, back to living, just like nothing happened. But something tells us Milo and Lola aren’t going to get back without learning more than they’d like about just how they got to Hell in the first place. And, you know — it’s Hell! It’s probably not going to be great.
We can all find out more soon, whether Milo and Lola want to or not. Afterparty launches on Xbox One and with Xbox Game Pass on October 29.