Imagine life entombed. Buried in shelters under a post-WWIII nuclear wasteland, a taut group of survivors struggle to elude the aftermath of a manmade apocalypse and a dismal, uncertain future. Afterfall: InSanity Extended Edition is staged in the year 2035, 20 years after detonation of an experimental fusion bomb that has rendered the surface lethal. Existence continues for a select few deep within infrastructure once supporting cities that now lie in contaminated ruin. Years of residence in these abysmal chasms have taken a heavy toll on the mental well-being of the inhabitants. Many have symptoms of a neurosis called Confinement Syndrome, a result of being physically incarcerated by the very vaults sustaining life as it is now known. In this psychological survival-horror, you play the role of Dr. Albert Tokaj, psychologist and pharmacologist to the dwellers of Shelter “Glory”. It is obvious from the game’s open that the doctor himself is not exempt from the same symptoms afflicting his patients. Dr. Tokaj is plagued by frequent nightmares and clouded thoughts. After a tense opening encounter with the compound’s militant leader, Dr. Tokaj is ordered to the sub-levels of the shelter to investigate the strange behaviors the inhabitants have started to display. It is very quickly apparent that this illness has the ability to consume mind, body, and spirit of those afflicted. Our protagonist must sort through his own wavering mental state to secure answers and identify allies.
Mutations and madness lurking in mystic, dark corners keep you on your toes as you navigate this visually striking, yet fairly linear underground universe. There is a familiar feeling, as many aspects of the game’s combat style, storyline, and scare tactics are seemingly inspired by other mainstream titles within the same genre, such as personal favorites from the Fallout series and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Initial combat is clunky melee, but is redeemed by graphically impressive finishing moves. Weapons, such as hammers, axes, and crowbars, are strewn about the environment with simplistic degrees of variation in stats. Once you obtain the ability to utilize firearms the combat feels less oppressive. The Extended version features more extensive combat. A system called FearLock is realistically incorporated during tense moments, in which long range vision is blurred, aim becomes erratic, yet melee skills improve drastically and adrenaline magnifies the body’s fight response. This system is enhanced and emphasized in the extended version 2.0. After a while of exploring the dark depths of your eerie environment, the game shifts to a series of puzzles, mini-games, and problem solving scenarios, thus breaking up the monotony of the hack and slash and keeping the player invested. The foreboding and visually impressive atmosphere, powered by Unreal Engine 3, creates the perfect backdrop for an interesting, though hardly original, storyline. Shadowy figures frequently appear distant and proceed to pursue with all of the maniacal intensity of insanity incarnate. Afterfall has a serious “jump factor”, though this opinion may seem way extreme coming from a girl with years of Castlevania induced nightmares tucked away in dream journals. The moving power of fear lies more in the anxiety of the buildup rather than a mere fleeting moment of spook. Developers have done a fantastic job with elements of suspense, incorporating an incredibly haunting music/sound score into an overwhelmingly ominous atmosphere.
This indie game brought to us by Intoxicate Studios and Nicholas Games was originally released for PC in November 2011. The Enhanced Edition, symbolically called “2.0″, contains a lot of improvements to the basic version of the game. The PC version is being distributed in a form of a free patch for those who already purchased Afterfall: InSanity. The Xbox 360 version will include all of the improvements and is due for release in the closing months of 2012. One of the most important changes will be a more dynamic and intuitive fight system. Dr. Albert Tokaj is more adept, both as far as his movements and attacks are concerned. Animations, both in gameplay and in cut scenes, also underwent some changes.
Important enhancements include:
• An improved dynamic fight system
• Enhanced cutscenes (camera, sound, animations)
• More elements of psychosis (FearLock)
• Improved facial expressions
• Enhanced sound of both environment and characters
• Added gameplay elements (lvl 4)
• A FreeFight arsenal of fancy new weapons
• Various new automatic save points (checkpoints)
• Optimization of lightning and performance for Xbox360
• More balanced gameplay
• Changes in the narration style
• Technical and gameplay improvements
• A new tutorial system
The revival of this striking shooter allows the player to revisit the gloom and hopelessness of Shelter “Glory”, and once again face the psychosis wrought beyond the death of freedom and society. As a hardcore enthusiast of the genre across all types of media, I was easily drawn into this dystopian wonderland. Commanding graphics and woeful sound effects nurture a sensory indulgence, and help offset some of the slightly mediocre, overcooked elements. Overall this newly enhanced indie title is hugely impressive and has much to offer. Dive into this dismal derelict and witness the unnerving effects of the human mind suppressed, you won’t regret this journey.
Review Rating: 8/10