AFTERPARTY (2019)

Talk your way out of Hell.

Flirt your way out of Hell.

Cheat your way out of Hell.

Dance your way out of Hell.

Party your way out of Hell.

(PC/macOS/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xboxes) AFTERPARTY is another narrative-forward videogame from OXENFREE developers Night School Games. Unlike OXENFREE, a deft interactive teen horror adventure, AFTERPARTY focuses on two platonic 20-something best friends — Milo (Khoi Dao) and Lola (Janina Gavankar) — just about to graduate from college.

Then they die and go to Hell and, in order to escape they need not only outdrink Satan, but also come to terms with each other, their past, and their future.

What follows is an extremely visually striking and darkly comedic game, perhaps containing some of the filthiest, well-crafted jokes I’ve ever encountered in a game. AFTERPARTY is also brilliant with its character work — not just its honest and complicated portrayal of a platonic friendship between a man and a woman — but also with its ancillary characters, including psychopomp ferrier Sam (HORIZON: ZERO DAWN’s Ashly Burch) whose life/death is both over-shared and enigmatic at the same time.

It is worth noting that, while OXENFREE featured some intriguing interface tools apart from dialogue trees, AFTERPARTY’s non-dialogue interactivity is reduced to a number of routine mini-games. While thematically that makes sense — beer pong and rhythm mini-games make perfect sense for the material — they often feel like they emptily get in the way of what you’d rather be doing: advancing the story and learning more about the characters.

Nonetheless, it’s perfect for playing over the Halloween weekend with a friend. AFTERPARTY doesn’t overstay its welcome, and while it actually takes place in Hell, it’s more emotionally substantive than scarring.

OBSCURE (2004)

(PC/PS2/Xbox) Horror videogames are the best for playing with a close friend, even when they aren’t co-op and you’re just passing the controller left and right. The highs hit higher, but seem safer, and it’s a genuine bonding activity. I still have fond memories of playing RESIDENT EVIL 4 with a friend, both of us letting the other take over when it got too intense, while chowing down on some of the best garlic pita chips and hummus in Chicago.

OBSCURE is basically THE FACULTY: The videogame, and I also have fond memories of playing it in an old apartment with the lights off, brandishing my in-game flashlight. However, I did play it solo and most folks who still rave about it focus on the co-op. Rather than expound on it, I’ll let Dave Riley from our prior site, THE NEW GAMER, do so via his 2005 review. (Apologies for the few errors — the site shuttered almost a decade ago and I haven’t tended to it.)