Visions of Hell usually depicted it as being full of fire, lava flows, demons roaming about, and personalised eternal suffering for anyone that has been sent there. That’s not quite the case in Afterparty. Sure, the lava flows everywhere, there’s some punishment and Satan is in charge, but he’s not the iron-fisted ruler he usually is. He likes to party instead.
Enter Milo and Lola, two recent college graduates who suddenly end up dead and down in Hell. It’s not quite what they imagined their post-college existence would be like. They arrive in Hell just as the processing centre is closing for the evening. Yep, even demons work 9 to 5. True horror. This also means people are only tortured during work hours, though everyone has a personal demon that follows them about. After the daily torture, you’re free to explore and hit the bars, socialise with the demons and the dead, drinking, chatting, and playing bingo.
As Milo and Lola arrive in Hell, they’re introduced to the afterlife by taxi driver Sam, while also being tormented by their personal demon Wormhorn. Obviously Milo and Lola don’t believe they belong in Hell and want to find a way out, but there’s only one way: to outdrink Satan himself.
Even just getting the opportunity to do so is easier said than done. Milo and Lola have to traipse around the different islands of Hell and do favours to earn that invite to the devil’s own party. Afterparty has different paths to head down to get there, and if you choose one mission you won’t be able to do the other that’s offered to you, which leaves room for replaying to see everything that is on offer in the game.
Being stereotypical college students, Milo and Lola are well up for a drink, and without the health of their liver to worry about and eternity to while away, the denizens of Hell know how to knock one back. Many missions will give you the opportunity to grab a drink, but they won’t be the cocktails that you’re familiar with. Each has its own personality altering ingredient which opens up different types of dialogue. You could be flirty, a pirate, charming, full of courage, or gain whole host of other traits for as long as the drink lasts. You’ll generally move forward through the story whatever happens, though the choices made and how you get to them will make certain paths unavailable to you.
Really, the game isn’t about the missions and completing tasks, but the characters and their mix of personalities. There’s some depth to them and they can provide moments of hilarity or show how they’re suffering from some kind of trauma or problem. The demons, from Sam all the way up to Satan, are not excluded from this.
In fact, these secondary can often steal the limelight away from the protagonists. It’s Hell, but there are a lot of characters to have sympathy for as Milo and Lola help them navigate family problems that have been bubbling under the surface for ages. For some lightheartedness, you can scroll through Bicker, Hell’s social network, which catalogs the experiences of humans and demons alike.
While Afterparty is a fun game it does have some performance issues, at least on PS4. There’s a lot of stuttering when moving between scenes, sometimes characters can just freeze in place, and the loading times can be quite long in some instances. At one point I had thought the game was stuck in a loop, but it eventually loaded into the next area. Strangely, when characters aren’t conversing there are times when the game is just eerily silent. You’d think Hell would have background noise, but it’s oddly quiet everywhere.