Developer: Rolling Glory Jam, Fahmitsu Publisher: Flynn's Arcade Categories: Narrative Release Date: 04.01.21
What comes after? You know, after death? The game What Comes After explores this topic and puts it front and center on the stage. In it, you play as a timid young woman named Vivi, who falls asleep on the train after a long day of work, only to awake on the other side…but she isn’t dead.
Walk through the train, speak with the recently fallen souls. Listen to them speak on their thoughts on death. Reflect on it all. Regrets they have, the worry of how their family feels, maybe some feelings of acceptance or joy. From the random mad, to an expectant mother. A small child who shared an illness with his mother. Pets. A baby. Local plants and trees. Each have their own views on death, some being in full understanding, some lost, some just waiting. The game pulled on my heartstrings l when you speak to a dog that recently passed away, as someone who recently had to put a long kept family dog down. It got me thinking, was he scared, was he thinking I was giving up on him? Or was it just a him finally going out peacefully? At this point, it made me miss my dog more than usual.
I can imagine that people who made have lost others to death might be touched differently than others. It’s a hurt that never really goes away. In What Comes Next, Vivi becomes the voice to the lost souls, to reassure or just comfort them. Which sometimes, that’s all someone needs, a person to talk to. Vivi however has this whole journey as a learning experience. It’s more than hinted at that Vivi doesn’t value her life. The trek through the train puts things into perspective for her however, and especially when she speaks to a baby, perhaps wiser than his time.
You may notice I’ve not spoken about gameplay yet. That’s because there isn’t really much gameplay to speak of. You walk, you talk. Walk some more and talk some more. This isn’t to the game’s fault, it’s just the goal they were going for. It’s more of a feels kind of game than one for immediate satisfaction. What Comes After is also rather short, but ends right when it needs to. Nothing overstays it’s welcome. With how dialogue heavy the game is however, the lack of any voice acting is unfortunate and it does lead to some conversations feeling a tad long winded.
Music is sparse, but when it plays, it’s in the bigger emotional scenes and does an excellent job of complimenting the harder hitting scenes. It’s not exactly memorable, but it works when it needs to. Graphics are a nice handdrawn look. It’s a bit simple, but the minimal animation for characters, especially Vivi’s timid walking and standing can say a lot about a charter without a super detailed design or silhouette.
What Comes After is not for everyone. It’s more of a short interactive film than a game proper and the content itself might be triggering for some. But for those with an open mind and have about an hour to spend, you’ll find yourself in an emotional game that actually has a heartfelt message, and maybe to specific people can help them. If you’re ever at a point of your life like where Vivi was, sometimes all it takes is someone to talk to.