Hands On: Afterfall Insanity
Developer: Intoxicate Studios / Publisher: Nicolas Games / ESRB: Not Yet Rated / Release Date: November 25, 2011
I’m usually not one for scary games. It’s rare that you’ll find me online playing games that require the lights turned off and the headphones cranked up.
So when I had the opportunity to play Afterfall: Insanity, I was worried, to say the least. Not because of the game’s level of quality, but because I can be a bit of a man baby when it comes to horror games.
Thankfully, while the game is as scary at times as the developer wants it to be, it’s a good amount of fun to play, especially if you like taking an axe to a mutants head…and fearing what’s around the next corner.
The year is 2035, almost 20 years after the hell that was World War III. Humanity has been forced underground for safety, funneling into shelters and bunkers. You play the protagonist, one Albert Tokaj, resident psychiatrist in the sheltered underground facility.
You follow his struggle to not only understand the thoughts of his patients, but his own as well. He’s tired, he’s worried, and he’s got a lot on his plate.
However, you’ll soon discover that your responsibilities as a psychiatrist extend far beyond just diagnosing patients. When an air leak takes place on one of the lower sub-levels of the complex, you’re sent to figure out the problem. People affected by the leak are beginning to act strangely, almost animalistic, or so the scientists describe. Turns out, “animalistic” means mutant, flesh eating monsters that have a rumbly in their tummies, and you’re on the menu.
Also, the power grid is really wonky in this complex, resulting in many power outages. I found myself skulking through the dark for the majority of the game, oftentimes relying on generators to get the lights back up.
This is where the game really shines.
The “scare” factor is severely cranked up when the hall goes dark, I mean really up. Mutants came sprinting out of the darkness and knocking down doors to get me.
Thank goodness the game offers up a selection of weapons to choose from, with the biggest focus being on melee combat. You’ve got pipes, fireman axes, and even a hammer or two. While the occasional gun is greatly welcomed when fighting the larger of the mutant freaks, you’ll mostly be defending yourself with some form of steel or melee weapon.
The combat is simple and fun, not to mention bloody.
The finishing combat animations are also pretty brutal, but spectacular. Oftentimes, you’ll knock an enemy down to its knees, but find it’s not entirely dead yet. You then have the option to queue up a gruesome finishing animation, like beating it senseless in the head until it bursts, which always ended with me clenching a fist in demented accomplishment.
In addition to combat, I played through a few situational puzzles that involved hacking doors with my PDA, balancing water levels in reactors, and dealing with gas leaks. I don’t want to call them mini-games, but they do provide a much needed break in the action, offering you just enough time to catch your breath.
Other times, the puzzles can be as frantic as the combat, with the inclusion of a countdown timer in some instances that usually keeps you on your toes.
One bit that shouldn’t go without mentioning is the great sound design in Afterfall. The loud metallic screeching that accompanies the opening of doors, the piercing yells and shouts of the mutants as they race toward you, it’s all well done. The frightening music score keeps pace with each situation you’re in, queuing creepy tones as you slowly walk down a tight hallway, and ramping up as you shuffle away from giant mutants in an open corridor.
I’m curious to see what comes out of Afterfall, especially as it’s a first leap for indie developer Intoxicate. From what I’ve played, it’s been enjoyable, especially given how little I prefer the horror genre. The in-game cinematics between gameplay are well done and stylized, and while the combat is quite simple, it’s fun and relatively satisfying.
Afterfall: Insanity is set to launch on PC on November 25, 2011. Console versions are said to begin production after the PC release.
You can pre-order it now for $1. Details on the promotion can be found at the Afterfall website.