Afterparty Makes FOMO and Alcohol its Strongest Mechanics
Your liver can't die twice, right?
I see a lot of game announcements, pitches, and ideas come across my Twitter feed. Some are hits, some miss the mark of my personal interest, and others just stick with me. Some are so unique in their presence that I kinda have to pay attention and keep the game on my radar until they are in my hands. When Afterparty, Night School Studio’s follow up to Oxenfree, was announced in December 2017 under the core premise of out-drinking Satan, I knew I had to keep both eyes out for this one.
I had the opportunity to play a 30-minute chunk of the game during PAX East 2019. Dual protagonists Lola and Milo seemed to be recent additions to the population of Hell. I/we walked to a local bar in Nowhere to party. Our sassy demon guide, Sam Hill, teased a possible way to escape Hell and return to Earth—alive—before ditching us to attend a private party upstairs.
This is where Afterparty opened up and began to make me feel like I was at a crowded bar I didn’t entirely want to be at. I can only imagine being dead on top of that. Plenty of dialogue boxes popped up with various residential demons as I played as the spunky Lola. We had to secure an invite upstairs, so I focused on the task at hand. The person the party was for came downstairs and sat at the bar, so I had Lola and Milo sit down next to our target, Tommy. I tried to politely introduce ourselves, but I ended up interrupting Tommy’s conversation with the beefy demon bartender. I couldn’t help but wonder if I had waited for a lull in their conversation if the demon wouldn’t have snapped at me/us.
Tommy kept the conversation chill and this bar scene acted like a drinking tutorial, something I did not get in real life after I turned 21, so I appreciated it. We took some shots and an entirely new dialogue option opened up under the influence of whatever Tommy ordered. The screen took on a slightly woozy effect, nowhere near Arthur in Red Dead Redemption 2, but you could clearly tell my character was under the influence. This particular dialogue option was orange, something I’d learn was important after my demo.
After shots, Tommy wanted us to partake in a game of beer pong. The character I was in control of switched to Milo. Night School Studio founder Sean Krankel told me that there will be times that Afterparty automatically switches you between the two and other times where you get to choose which character to play as. This is key in creating a feeling of, as the kiddos say, FOMO (fear of missing out). Since each character has their own personality and is affected by alcohol their dialogue choices will vary. It’s a great idea in a game about partying where the party goes on all the time.
Another key to creating FOMO is the different colored dialogue choices when under the influence. These drunk dialogue choices change not only when you play as either Lola or Milo, but also depending on what you are drinking. Martinis, whiskey, vodka, the blood of people who eat annoyingly, etc. all have their own unique dialogue choices. This sounds super rad from a gameplay perspective, truly encouraging multiple playthroughs to test and see various outcomes, situations, and opportunities. It also sounds true to life in the way that different alcohols affect people differently.
I also crushed beer pong, which was cool to see gamified. My aiming line split into three lines the more I drank. I ended up performing better than I have in real life, so that was a bonus win for me. All the glory and none of the drunkenness! Apparently beating Tommy and a tough guy demon, who I thought was going to kill me again when I beat him. Tommy afterward said we were cool enough to party up top where we met up with Sam and she pitched to us the only way out of Hell. If Milo and Lola could party harder than the Prince of Lies/Partying, then he would grant them their life again on Earth. Tried and true, the Devil’s promise reminded me of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band. From what I’ve played so far though, Afterparty seems way more fun than rocking a fiddle.