Going to Hell has never been so entertaining.
Many years ago, I saw a clip of a stand-up comedian talking about how if there really was a Heaven and a Hell, he saw no reason why Hell would not be the more fun place to go, even if every piece of literature says it’s actually supposed to be the worst place you could ever end up. Afterparty, a game from Oxenfree developer Night School, is a game that fuses both of those outlooks on Hell. Yeah, sure, the booze is free and everybody’s just trying to have fun during their time off, but make no mistake: this place sucks. Originally released in October of last year, this adventure around the Nine Circles has finally hit Nintendo Switch and couldn’t possibly have found a better home.
In Afterparty, you take control of two childhood friends and recent college graduates Milo and Lola, who unfortunately find themselves newly deceased and spending their first night on the islands of Hell. Both of them are positive that a mistake has been made and that they are not supposed to be there, and when their processing gets delayed because office hours end, they find themselves aimlessly wandering the various bars and clubs around them. Eventually, they meet a taxi driver named Sam who clues them in on a little loophole: if they can manage to outdrink Satan himself, they will be allowed to return to the world of the living. Thus begins their adventure to get themselves into the rager that the Prince of Darkness himself is throwing and drink him under the table. Hopefully.
Aside from the occasional drinking game like beer pong or stacking glasses, there aren’t really a lot of instances of challenge in Afterparty. For the most part, the main attraction of the game is talking to the people around you. When talking to characters, the player will often be given two options above their heads for how they wish to respond, a typical mechanic for games like this. One way that Afterparty sets itself apart, however, is the drinking mechanic. Most areas in the game will have a bar where Milo and Lola can sit down and order a “Hellcoholic” cocktail. After doing so, the player can press ZR at any point to take a swig, and during dialogue options this will cause a third option to appear. Different drinks can cause different types of responses to fill this third option; for instance, some may make you more brash while others might give you a flirty or thirsty option to select.
As it is such a central focus, the writing and dialogue in Afterparty are really funny, and I mean “made me laugh out loud multiple times” funny. Whether it’s Milo and Lola’s chemistry when playing off of each other, the delivery of their personal demon Wormhorn’s occasional reviews, or just the general side banter of the background people and demons you walk by, there’s almost always something being said that will make you crack a smile. Even at points where the writing swerves from comedy into the more dramatic, it remains high quality the whole time, especially during what I found to be an incredibly tense ending. The writing is made even better by a stellar voice cast including big names like Ashly Burch and Dave Fennoy, among others.
Unfortunately, in terms of functionality, Afterparty has a bit of catching up to do. Loading screens very clearly chug, and while this might not have been a huge issue, there are points where a loading screen is being hidden behind a cutscene, and the chugging becomes incredibly noticeable when characters begin waiting a full second or two between lines. Character animations are also a bit buggy at times, seemingly getting temporarily stuck between two states during a scene. I also hit at least one part where something bugged the game, causing dialogue not to play, trapping me in a specific area, which is something that could only be fixed by closing and reloading the game. While annoying, this was a very rare occurrence and the constant auto saving meant that I lost next to no progress when it did happen.
Optimization issues aside if you enjoy games with a killer script and a fun setting to run around in, Afterparty is a must have for Switch library. This is of course if you’re fine with R-rated language and even just a little bit of gross out humor, but even if those aren’t really your jam this game may still be something to give a try. It’s a story of partying and heavy drinking—naturally—with a strong ending that I think is honestly going to stick with me for a good long while. At the end of the day, life sucks and then you die, but sometimes a game that can give you a good laugh is the best way to take your mind off that for a bit, right?