Just two years after their creation, Night School Studio burst onto the indie video game scene in 2016, releasing their critically acclaimed narrative adventure, Oxenfree. Now, three years later, the team once again looks to capture the hearts of the story-driven medium with their new title, Afterparty.
Does this mature dance with the devil live up to the hype of Night School Studio’s debut title? Find out here in a piece comparing Oxenfree and Afterparty.
Considering both Oxenfree and Afterparty are both driven by their narrative, it is no surprise that their stories need to at least be enjoyable.
For Oxenfree, players follow Alex: a rebellious teenager that joins a group of her peers for a night of exploring a decommissioned island surrounded by ghosts.
As that description indicates, the story becomes supernatural pretty quickly, as the fantastical elements of the island and its ghost are sprinkled in as the game progresses.
I’ve always personally loved the sci-fi, fantasy genre, so it was pretty easy to be enticed by the time-traveling and paranormal elements that accompany the game. What sets the story apart, though, is its characters and story growth.
Alex is given a multitude of branching paths to go down in the form of dialogue choices. Depending on what is picked, these choices shape each character’s interactions with Alex, as well as her overall personality, throughout the rest of the game.
Different endings also occur as a result of the choices that are made, providing a lasting impact with each decision.
For Afterparty, the story follows a much more mature, millennial approach to things.
Night School Studio’s sophomore title is based around two best friends, Lola and Milo, who suddenly end up on the bad side of the afterlife, dead and in hell without even knowing why.
The only way they are able to recover their memories and possibly escape Hell is to outdrink the devil.
This story’s premise is wacky and amazing, featuring more of a modern-day approach to the famous song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
A premise alone does not an amazing story make, though, as Afterparty fails to implement much of a branching narrative at all, only really giving A or B choices.
While the characters, setting, and dialogue are all up to snuff, the game does suffer from a lack of exploration and freedom.
With that all in mind, this battle of plots goes to Oxenfree, as its depth and choices win out over Afterparty’s awesome premise.