After Us is a 3D adventure platformer developed by Piccolo and published by Private Division. You play as Gaia, the animating force of vitality, who is entrusted with the duty of reviving the world’s spiritual essence to a semblance of its former glory. With this goal of global rehabilitation in mind, you must explore beautifully crafted, abstract environments and rescue the lost souls of extinct creatures trapped in desolate locations.
The game explores the profound topic of human impact on the environment and offers a ray of hope for restoring life on Earth. However, the story failed to resonate with me because it lacked the necessary setup to establish an emotional connection with the spirits. After a brief interaction, all traces of life disappear, which felt like a missed opportunity for Gaia to demonstrate her personality and connect with the player. The narrative progresses into a massive fetch quest that seemed rushed.
The game’s aesthetics and audio elements are impressive, with stunning, otherworldly settings that evoke a sense of hopelessness and desolation. Although the character models could have been more polished, the interesting environments make up for it entirely. The visuals are perfectly complemented by the soundtrack, which is soothing and mellow, setting the tone for the game. The background score is mostly subtle and blends seamlessly with the gameplay until it intensifies during emotional cutscenes, adding to the overall impact.
After Us impresses with its exceptional platforming mechanics, skillfully executing the core fundamentals with remarkable finesse. Initially, the gameplay is straightforward as you get familiar with the basic moves, such as jumping, dashing, and gliding. However, as you progress through the levels, new elements are introduced, and the challenges become more intricate. The game includes great features, such as running up walls and using your ability to remove hazards by surrounding yourself with grass temporarily, which I enjoyed. The puzzles in the game test your platforming skills and contribute to a well-crafted and entertaining gameplay experience.
One of the issues I had with the game is the enemy design. Although they were intended to serve as a roadblock and add tension to the gameplay, I found them to be more of a nuisance than a challenge. Players can easily evade them by sprinting, and defeating them requires minimal effort by spamming the heart-tossing ability. Even when caught, escaping is as simple as spamming a button. Overall, the enemies feel out of place and do not contribute significantly to the game’s experience.
Despite wishing that the story and enemies were more engaging, After Us is a good time. The gameplay is enjoyable, with simple mechanics and additional abilities that add diversity to the gameplay. The level design is clever and strikes the perfect balance between simplicity and complexity, resulting in a fun experience. The game doesn’t introduce any new elements to the platforming genre, but it doesn’t need to. If you’re in the market for an engaging platformer that tackles the topic of global rehabilitation, After Us is definitely worth considering.
After Us launches on May 23 on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S for $29.99.
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