After Us is an apocalyptic adventure that gets boring very quickly

After Us serves flying platforming in the dark landscapes of the end of the world. At its best, the game is beautiful, but unfortunately it also starts to repeat itself very quickly.

After UsPublication date: 23 May 2023
Studio: Small
Publisher: Private Division
Available: PC (Windows), Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5 (tested)
Players: 1
Age limit: 12
Game played for review: 6 hours

The end of the world has already been seen so much in the gaming world that it’s really hard to stand out from the crowd. Developed by Piccolo studio After Us tries its best, but promising ingredients end up drowning in a mediocre gaming experience.

After Us is set in a time where humans have destroyed all life on Earth. Gaia, a small spirit of nature, is awakened from her sleep and given the task of rescuing the spirits of animals that have been trapped in the bodies of the last individuals of their species. Gaia, controlled by the player, sets out to save lives in the midst of destruction, so that life can be revived.

The simple premises promise an attractive and melancholic adventure, and After Us has a lot of potential. Controlling Gaia is at its best fast-paced and flying platforming in beautiful scenery.

Perhaps the most successful thing in the game is the design of the game world. After Us’ apocalypse doesn’t just mean generic wastelands, Pelimaailma serves up surreal, broken visions with the same strangeness as an indie freak Metamorphosis (2020) served a couple of years ago. On the other hand, for example, endless, nightmarish factory environments bring to mind Oddworlddystopian views of the series.

The world of After Us is often also beautiful, but unfortunately the game design and gameplay are not at the same level. As a platformer, controllability is too often imprecise in an unnerving way, which is due to the combined effect of the controls and the viewing angles. The camera often doesn’t follow Gaia fast enough, so it’s hard to see if it’s hitting the platform or not, especially in large spaces. That’s why more difficult platforming parts become easily frustrating.

You can still forgive the platforming problems, but the game’s combat is then its own chapter. In After Us, you fight against enemies by throwing a small ball of light even back, which is an infuriatingly slow, imprecise and clumsy combat system. In scenes where there are many enemies, fighting practically means running away and indiscriminate attacks on enemies running behind. There is no satisfying sense of control in the fight, but rather the player starts looking for a bug to make the struggle easier.

An even bigger problem than the combat is that After Us gets boring surprisingly quickly. The game world is divided into linear areas, each of which has a bit of its own style and idea. However, these areas are too repetitive, and you can play similar puzzles or jumps for long periods of time. There is too little variety and the game starts to get boring.

Even as a story about an eco-catastrophe, After Us doesn’t impress, although that’s obviously the intention. The story remains abstract and distant, and it doesn’t manage to say anything specific or even appeal to the player emotionally.

When the game is ostensibly about the fate of other animal species and nature at the hands of humanity, why doesn’t the game show that fate? Why does Maahenki get to jump in the middle of endless car factories, and the journey does not take, for example, through production lines? (Admittedly, I’ve only played about half of the game for review purposes, but nothing suggests that the line will change radically in the future.)

When you compare After Us with, for example, last year Endling: Extinction Is Foreveriin (2022), it’s easy to see how one game succeeds in a story about ecology and animals and another falls by the wayside. Although After Us has a message, the execution is unnecessarily sterile and distant.

Even if there is potential for more, After Us remains a mediocre adventure game. At least the sadness could have been completely cut out of the battle game and the length could have been cut anyway. There would probably be ingredients for a six-hour indie game, not twice as long, for an activity that requires skill. From the offer, the game can be recommended as a snack, but you shouldn’t expect miracles from it.


Rating: 2.5/5

“After Us doesn’t manage to deliver on its promises, instead it remains an external and boring adventure, even though the scenery is beautiful.”

Source: by

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