It’s no secret that the Earth is dying. Deforestation, consumerism, air pollution, world warming – it’s like listening to “One other one” advert nauseam, besides with the specter of imminent extinction. However, humanity and the planet proceed to trudge on, if just for somewhat longer. In After Us, Piccolo Studio explores how present environmental issues may form the Earth within the worst potential methods. “The top of all the pieces” is just one a part of the equation.
Nonetheless, After Us isn’t about chiding humanity for its errors, however holding a magnifying glass to their most excessive outcomes. It’s about nature, particularly Gaia, the Spirit of Life, as she ventures to the ravaged wasteland to free the Spirits of the final animals. There isn’t as a lot to say as there may be to witness, however the imagery is as uncooked as it’s gorgeous.
“The environments are imaginative and greater than somewhat overwhelming. Technically, they’re attractive, with gorgeous atmospherics and particle results.”
When first beginning, Gaia witnesses the top of all of the animals on Earth. Mom tells her of the Devourers and the way she used the final of her vitality to save lots of every animal’s soul. Nonetheless, they’re trapped within the animals’ desiccated our bodies. It’s as much as Gaia to seek out and free them. Alongside the way in which, there are minor Spirits to save lots of, every including to the magical glade all of the extra as life thrives anew (on the religious aircraft, at the very least).
Gaia ventures forth, taking within the sights and sounds of a post-Devourer panorama. And these environments are really gorgeous to behold. In depth highways have been torn aside and float as small land plenty. Large skyscrapers dot the panorama with hordes of Devourers both ready in line or stumbling about. Tangled messes of energy strains and in depth networks of TVs, promoting extra issues to eat, dwarf you.
The environments are imaginative and greater than somewhat overwhelming. Technically, they’re attractive, with gorgeous atmospherics and particle results. Maybe most spectacular is that such a dreary future may nonetheless supply such vivid colours. Even a gray cityscape seems to be lovely amidst a sea of neon screens and indicators.
As summary because the imagery might come throughout, it resonates greater than somewhat with the present state of the world. Maybe the one flaw to all that is when the body charge dips in Efficiency Mode in sure sections the place it rains. In any other case, you’ll get a near-constant 60 FPS all through (High quality Mode can be accessible for 4K).
“Exploration can initially really feel a bit too linear (making an attempt to leap someplace very a lot landable leads to instantaneous demise), however shortly expands as you enterprise to new places.”
As such, there may be minimal dialogue outdoors of the conversations with Mom. The environmental story-telling is robust, and seeing Gaia’s reactions to the state of the world (spoiler: none of it’s joyful) provides extra emotional weight to her duties.
The principle Spirits you have to rescue even have their fates tied to sure areas. The Crow is on the high of a inventory change, sealed in a cage that requires climbing larger and better. The Honeybee is amid a variety of energy vegetation and TVs, their hive mimicked by the snaking networks of energy cables. As contrasting as they might appear, there are extra similarities between humanity and nature than we predict, and seeing what occurs when that steadiness fails is fascinatingly morbid.
As Spirits populate the grove, you’ll see them roaming about unburdened and may even pet them. It might have been good if the situation may have served as greater than a easy fast-travel hub.
Exploration can initially really feel a bit too linear (making an attempt to leap someplace very a lot landable leads to instantaneous demise), however shortly expands as you enterprise to new places. At its core, After Us is a 3D platformer. Gaia begins with a easy soar earlier than studying to dash, hover, double soar, air sprint, wall run and extra. She will be able to additionally launch a burst of life to clear away some (however not all) oil spills or create vines on electrical cables to grind on.
“The Devourers are nicely carried out and fascinating conceptually – they’re as pitiful as they’re disturbing, whether or not it’s seeing them drawn to shiny screens or mulling about aimlessly.”
The general controls are strong – Gaia is extremely responsive, if a bit floaty, and transitioning between jumps, rail grinds, and dashes feels pure. The variations between jumps could be a little odd at occasions – a sprinting double soar received’t give as a lot peak as a daily double soar, which might result in falling in sure conditions. These moments aren’t overtly punishing, as you respawn near the identical spot. Whereas there’s a little bit of jank in some factors, like when repositioning throughout wall-running, it’s nothing to destroy the expertise.
General, there’s a wholesome mixture of platforming skills, and After Us presents some intriguing situations to make use of them. For example, Gaia’s burst can set off non permanent openings on the tops of cages in a sure part. You then should open them from the aspect, the underside and so forth, traversing this precarious climb in varied methods. One other instance is whereas grinding rails within the energy district, as you’ll want to leap over from one to the opposite and even switch to some overhead.
In fact, the opposite main a part of After Us is the Devourers. If it weren’t apparent sufficient, they’re people, or what as soon as handed as the identical, now a part of a brand new ecosystem of waste and decay. Some are stationary as husks, seemingly frozen in time and/or lifeless inside. Others are lined in oil, which has additionally grown sentient and threatens to pull Gaia into the abyss if she will get too shut. The Devourers are nicely carried out and fascinating conceptually – they’re as pitiful as they’re disturbing, whether or not it’s seeing them drawn to shiny screens or mulling about aimlessly.
“As you purify Devourers, you unlock Reminiscences – nonetheless photographs that inform the story of a particular space.”
There are many events the place you’ll “combat” the Devourers – which is to say, Gaia can fireplace a light-weight that passes by way of them (additionally used to gather the minor Spirits), dodge their assaults and transfer out of the way in which. She will be able to additionally use her burst to stun them. Some Devourers are tankier than others, whereas others require attacking from behind.
General, very easy and nothing too particular. I’d argue that fight may have been additional streamlined, with assaults one-shotting the weaker Devourers. Since Gaia’s mild purifies, this may have felt higher, even when the Devourers are speculated to be this all-encompassing, part-ruinous, largely pitiable power.
As you purify Devourers, you unlock Reminiscences – nonetheless photographs that inform the story of a particular space. What may have made for fascinating extra lore, like distinctive tales for various Devourers, makes for a few of the weaker narrative elements.
For example, a person meets a lady. They get married, transfer to their house and have a baby. The person does some gardening, after which some years later, his daughter has grown up and seemingly moved out. Lower to the person trying grumpy as he cleans up the realm round what was once his home, which become a business district. If that didn’t sound uninteresting sufficient, it’s even tamer in-game.
“After Us doesn’t reinvent the wheel in platforming and exploration, however it provides very compelling gameplay in each areas.”
Given the potential of those Reminiscences to inform extra personalised tales, it might have been good for every to be a mini-sequence of animated photographs as an alternative of a slideshow the place you’ll want to acquire the slides. It’s additionally annoying once you get them out of order, lacking the context of sure sequences. Certain, they’re non-obligatory collectibles, however they might have been far more.
After Us doesn’t reinvent the wheel in platforming and exploration, however it provides very compelling gameplay in each areas. The summary artwork model is vivid and uncooked – far and wide, at occasions, however in a great way, whereas the environmental story-telling (outdoors of the Reminiscences) is strong. Delicate efficiency hiccups will be annoying, and the fight is generally advantageous with out being extraordinary. Nonetheless, in the event you can face your future failures, it’s a somber but endearing journey down the rabbit gap.
This recreation was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.