What happens when you want to make a game similar to Fallout and S.T.A.L.K.E.R., stop midway through and say: “F*** that, let’s just make a Dead Space clone instead!“? Well, you’re about to find out. It’s time to review Afterfall: InSanity Extended Edition.
Afterfall: InSanity Extended Edition is the first (and only as far I can tell) game by Polish game studio Intoxicate Studios and features a post-apocalyptic world where people live in underground shelters after a vastly different Cold War finally culminated into a full-scale nuclear World War III, once again kickstarted by those pesky Germans. The year is 2035 and confinement syndrome is starting to take its toll on the population of the shelter known as Glory. You play Albert Tokaj, a psychiatrist tasked with the mental care of the shelter’s inhabitants and specialising in confinement syndrome. Suffering from the effects of the disorder himself, he soon comes to question his reality when an outbreak suddenly hits the shelter and Tokaj uncovers that a sinister saboteur is framing him for a series of accidents.
First of all let’s just come right out and say it: Afterfall InSanity looks absolutely fantastic! It’s level of graphics detail is peerless in indie games. In fact, on a technical aspect the game is very well done all around. The graphics, the controls, and the sound effects is all on astandard. The ambient sound and the music isn’t as impressive however and never really sets the mood like it should in a horror game. This makes Afterfall feel less immersive and the tension never really gets to you. The stiff and less-than-great voice acting also doesn’t help make it any better. It’s a shame, seeing how much work they put into the environment, and it cripples the gameplay more than one might think.
Tokaj’s various hallucinations and distortion of perception, however, are very well made and almost makes a man with nerves of steel like me shiver with the creeps. It’s a nice touch in a story that sometimes feel all over the place like an intern lost in an office building, desperately trying to find the bathroom. On his journey Tokaj fights crazed lunatics, the military, and even gets a rather unpleasant welcome by the resident cannibals in town. Some things just feels shoved in there and really doesn’t have anything to do with the story at all. It’s a case of either careless or outright bad storytelling. The more you play the more crazy elements and enemies are introduced, to a point where it’s hard to take the story seriously and you lose interest and start focusing on just chopping people in half instead. In hindsight it’s possible and maybe even probable that these over-the-top elements are just another part of Tokaj’s warped perception of reality, but there’s really nothing hinting at that possibility while you are playing the game.
Afterfall was first released in 2011 and got a lukewarm reception, with many critics calling the game “boring”. This spawned the “Extended Edition” which featured a new combat system, better graphics and animations, a new tutorial, and a lot more weapons. The game was also optimized for a release on the Xbox 360. The game has support for gamepad, but I never though to use it because I felt this was a game that deserved to be played with mouse and keyboard. And like I said, the controls are really good with some tasteful and smart usage of quick time events. The arsenal of mêlée weapons at Tokaj’s disposal range from my own personal weapon of choice; the fire axe, to less conventional weapons like brooms and wooden table legs. The firearms may not be as diverse but they are certainly satisfying to use with their powerful sound effects.
On top of the single player campaign there’s also an arena mode called “Dirty Arena” and in all honesty, I didn’t play it. I tried it out and after being shot to death by the damn crowd for the fourteenth time without even defeating the very first wave of enemies I felt forced to give up. Maybe I did something wrong, maybe it’s just really really bad. I honestly can’t say, but it’s not much of a review if I don’t at least mention all the features.
For all the great graphics and gameplay, one can’t help but feel that this game feels a lot similar to the 2008 massive hit Dead Space by Redwood Shores (now Visceral Games). The similar graphics, the premiss in some ways, and a particularly intense chase sequence all remind me of Isaac Clarke’s little space adventure. It’s not a rip-off in any way however, far from it. But sometimes the similarities are a bit “on the nose”, to use a cliché.
Technical: With graphics vastly superior to any indie title I’ve ever played, good and responsive controls, and nice sound effects Afterfall InSanity shows a tremendous level of detail that trumps manytitles. The checkpoints are never too far from each other and no glitches or bugs presented themselves during my playthrough. The less fantastic music and ambient sound however, lowers the score somewhat. 5.0 / 6.0
Presentation: Afterfall InSanity looks great and paints a unique world that can at points deliver a shivering setting with its visuals. It is however ultimately impaired by substandard voice acting and a storyline that collapses halfway through, failing to keep the player interested. 3.5 / 6.0
Gameplay: There’s really nothing spectacular about the game’s gameplay. The interface and the enemiesare neither great nor bad – they mostly serve their purpose in a satisfying way. The mêlée combat is simple yet unique but the arsenal of weapons is mostly fun to look at and doesn’t really deliver any real variety in combat. 3.5 / 6.0
Overall: Afterfall InSanity Extended Edition is a fun experience as long as you don’t have too high expectations. This is indie eye candy that will give you cavities in your retinas (yuck?) and with its fun and extremely bloody combat you are bound to enjoy the game from start to finish. Just don’t expect half of the game’s story to make any goddamned sense. 4.0 / 6.0
AVERAGE SCORE: 4.0 / 6.0 | (67%)