Less Massive: Afterfall Insanity Is Free, And Still Costs Too Much

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If you follow MMO Fallout on Twitter, or even if you don’t and simply catch my tweets on the sidebar of this website, you might have followed a link yesterday to redeem a free copy of Afterfall Insanity. Well, after putting about six hours into the game, I can honestly say that I got out of this exactly what I paid in: Absolutely nothing. The simple fact that I knew what the twist ending was going to be not even five minutes into the story should have been the first sign, and probably the only one I needed.

Afterfall Insanity is a third person game from Intoxicate Studios. The game takes place in a fictional timeline where nuclear war breaks out and most of the world is destroyed. Thankfully, a small portion of humanity managed to survive by living in underground Fallout© shelters. You play as Albert Tokaj, a psychiatrist specializing in confinement syndrome who notices that the mental and physical status of those in his shelter is growing increasingly unstable. Is everyone going insane around Tokaj, or is he the one who is truly crazy? Spoiler: It’s him.

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In the world of “survival horror” games, Afterfall Insanity is on the level of Syfy original movie. Like many other low-budget horror flicks before it, Afterfall Insanity sets out to tell a serious story and, in the process, unintentionally creates something so schlocky that the horror element is replaced by bad comedy. Tokaj flips from “I’m a doctor, I have to help these people” to beating insane people to death so fast, the player is bound to get whiplash from the experience. There is less than a minute between Tokaj punching his guard for abusing an insane person and him wielding a fire axe and chopping off limbs.

It’s hard to get motivated for the horror aspect of Afterfall when the voice actor playing Albert has the emotional range of stale roadkill. Just about all of the voice actors provide the kind of enthusiasm you’d expect from a high school student being picked to read a passage from Shakespeare. It’s the kind of voice acting that makes you suddenly appreciate the works of Tommy Wiseau, or the dramatic chops of Nicolas Cage. Throw that voice acting in with copious amounts of broken cutscenes that clip through actors and the environment, and shake in some mediocre animation, and you have a recipe for gaming’s Asylum Film company with none of the self-awareness.

I have to assume that Intoxicate Games developed Afterfall by looking at popular survival and horror games and plucking concepts to use, albeit half-cocked and unfinished. The melee combat system, by which you’ll find all sorts of pipes and axes lying around, is clearly taken from Condemned, minus the unique feel of each weapon that set Condemned apart. Melee combat in Afterfall is clunky, Albert will often take another swing or two after you’ve stopped clicking. Enemies get in cheap shots often, hit detection is poor at best, and blocking seems mostly useless since it doesn’t do much to mitigate damage.

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Afterfall grabs fear aspects from various other titles, and implements them in a manner that is just as woody and inauthentic as the acting. Albert will get spooked when scary things happen around him, leading to the picture going fuzzy and aiming a gun becomes difficult, effectively meaningless if you’re using the melee weapons. There are puzzles in the game, most of which consist of repeatedly hitting the same button, or hitting the directional arrows in a random order based on trial and error.

Which isn’t to say that the game falls completely flat. Afterfall is at its best when the developers aren’t trying as much. During the first half of the game, when your biggest adversary is the darkness and your limited flashlight, the game genuinely gets creepy. It is blatantly obvious from the beginning how the game is going to end, anyone who has played Spec Ops: The Line knows this tale back to front, but in that time where Albert loses his two bodyguards and must travel through the dark and creepy passageways alone, that is where the game hits its high points. Parts like silhouette children dancing in a circle are not scary.

There are so many better horror games on the market, and a lot of them come from indie developers like the Penumbra games and Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Instead of going for a game that picks random elements from other games, why not just play those games directly? Amnesia, Dead Space, Eternal Darkness, etc.

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