5 minutes to hook me – Afterparty

The opening few minutes of any video game are a make-or-break time for its audience. Loyal fans may stick around even if the introduction is a bit — shall we say — boring, whereas newcomers to a game or series may not be nearly as forthcoming. In an age where our playtime is constantly tracked by every service we play our games on, it’s vital for developers to really nail an introduction and hook new players.

I’m only giving them five minutes to work with.

Afterparty starts at its conclusion: graduation.

© 2019 Night School Studio

Who would you want to be trapped with for all of eternity? Milo and Lola are dead. And best friends. And in hell. Unless they can escape.

Turns out there’s a simple loophole: outdrink Satan and he’ll grant anyone re-entry to Earth. Afterparty redefines Night School Studio’s intelligent conversation system with a wild story and crazy relationships that change based on every decision. Take a drink, confront your personal demons, and uncover the mystery of your damnation. It’s up to you to get your best bud outta hell.

Night School Studio, 2019

In the five minutes I played, I was introduced to the game’s dual protagonists. I was shown the game’s core drinking mechanic (drink alcohol to unlock extra dialogue choices). Five minutes is not a lot of time to present all the intricacies that may await me, but the way the game presents itself makes these first steps very easy to take. Instead of being busy bogged down in learning the game’s controls, I’m enjoying the story set out on the bench, the game just slowly filling my cup.

I enjoyed the witty repartee of Milo and Lola interacting with their fellow graduates as they sleuth through a college graduation party they aren’t enjoying very much. They are the awkward people I and many others envision ourselves as — it’s not hard to put yourself in their shoes and agree that yes, this party kinda blows but ditching feels rude.

Night School Studio has published a very unique adventure game with its own distinctive look and feel. Characters move like the liquid they’re drinking — sometimes it’s very precise, other times it controls about as sloshy as they’re getting.

Would I play for more than five minutes?

It’s a very smooth opening. I played the Playstation 4 version on a PS4 Slim, and was caught up in what feels like a brutally long loading screen where not much happens at all — once the game is booted however, I experienced nothing off-putting performance-wise.

Lola and Milo present an interesting relationship I’d love to get to know. The game has perfectly set up its gameplay and premise in a way that has hooked me without question. I’d easily recommend it, based on its unique visual style alone.

Afterparty is available on Steam, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Epic.

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