Fables about cheating death and dealing with the devil aren’t uncommon. The Brothers Grimm wrote about “The Smith and the Devil” in Children’s and Household Tales, about a blacksmith who gets a boon from the devil and cons him out of taking his soul. Orpheus braves Hell to return Eurydice back to the land of the living. They serve as a means of imparting morals and wisdoms. While part of Afterparty’s charm comes from its brusqueness, what with it having dark humor, a “party hard” sort of atmosphere, and tons of swearing, it also has a surprising amount of heart and life lessons.
Afterparty follows Lola and Milo, lifelong friends who have just graduated college. Except the party celebrating this feat is actually a prank by demons in hell, screwing around with the “newborns.” The duo is dead, they don’t remember how they died, and they aren’t sure what sins landed them in hell. In fact, because that little stunt made them late for processing, all they do know is that they have been sent as a pair and were assigned a personal demon to share named Sister Mary Wormhorn. After being told to chill around the city while waiting for their assigned torture for the rest of eternity, the two meet a cab driver on the River Styx named Sam. She lets them know that there is a loophole and outdrinking and partying Satan could send them back to the land of the living. So, off the duo go to actually get into his 24/7 party, get him to agree to the deal, and meet his terms to make it happen.
Given that Lola and Milo have just come from spending years trying to prepare for life in the real world, they’re… not exactly prepared for life in the underworld. They have no idea how things work, who to trust, and really how to handle themselves. Especially since our two protagonists have very different personalities and a personal demon who shows up at inopportune times to remind them of past traumas and sew seeds of chaos. The thing about Afterparty’s picture of hell is, it paints a picture of a functioning society that isn’t all that dissimilar from life on Earth. The demons honestly aren’t thrilled about the torture thing.
As the demon behind the desk at processing notes, this is just a job for them. Off the clock, you’ll see the same sorts of monsters who would be torturing human victims during the day drinking, partying, and socializing with them. Beth, a newly appointed female executive demon at Bicker, Hell’s version of Twitter, is trying to climb the corporate ladder in a male-dominated industry while coming to terms with a recent breakup and finding a balance between her social life and work.
Afterparty also spends quite a bit of time exploring the concept of friendship, both blatantly and with more subtlety. Lola and Milo have been together since they were little kids, when they were paired up because everyone else in their class already had partners. Even in processing, they’re considered an anomaly, as the two are going through everything together as a unit instead of as individuals. We have the exploration of both the healthy and unhealthy elements of this dynamic. At the same time, we get to explore the relationships between other supporting characters, like Lucifer and Al, or what the interactions between Sam and both Lola and Milo are like. The experience tests the strength of these bonds, and our choices get to determine how our own insights influence them.
Then, there’s the exploration of social activities like drinking, partying, and engaging in different activities while out on the town at night. At the beginning of Afterparty, both Lola and Milo don’t have the best experiences with such endeavors. Even if the party “welcoming” them to Hell wasn’t rigged, it’s clear the two don’t handle social situations very well or assign importance to them. While the events here go to extremes, as you would expect from… well… the underworld, the conversations, drinks that loosen characters up and offer responses outside of their comfort zones, and activities like beer pong and dance-offs show how frivolous things can matter. You better understand Al and help him after hitting the dance floor. Showing you can handle yourself in a beer pong game and deal with expletive-ridden trash talk impresses people and shows the duo may be socially savvy enough to best Satan. It’s definitely a “do as I say, not as I do,” but the revelries suggest that lightening up once in a while may not be the worst idea.
Afterparty is the sort of adventure that gives people options. You have choices, when it comes to trying to get Lola and Milo out of Hell. There’ll be dark humor, given that you are dealing with demons and an attempt to out-drink the devil. But, what’s surprising is how it, like fables and myths involving Hell and Satan, has these possible life lessons in there. It explores friendships between people. It looks at how people strive to get by, whether they’re demons or humans. It even shows how socialization can benefit these two individuals.
Afterparty is available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. It is also in development for the Nintendo Switch.