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After Us Review: A Matter of Life and Falling to Death (PS5)

After Us is a 3D platforming adventure game from Piccolo studios, with post-apocalyptic landscapes to traverse and man-made hazards to avoid. Offering a story heavy with metaphors, abstract imagery and precarious platform mechanics, After Us takes a deeper look at the impact of mankind.

After Us Review PS5

After Us is a 3D platforming adventure game from Piccolo studios, with a variety of post-apocalyptic landscapes to traverse and man-made hazards to avoid. Blending a unique artsyle with abstract concepts and linear level design, After Us allows the player to focus on their own interpretations as they navigate the surreal surroundings laden with metaphors.

After Us released on May 23rd for £24.99 ($29.99) and is available on PlayStation 5, Xbox, and Steam. PC gamers should note After Us requires a controller to play. 

After Us - Launch Trailer | PS5 Games

Story – Existential Crisis

Throughout After Us, you take control of Gaia. Sharing her name with the Greek myth Goddess of Earth, our Gaia lives up to her namesake. Exploring the desolate landscapes in their dystopian state, Gaia harnesses her earthly powers to bring pockets of life to her bleak surroundings, while she seeks to restore Mother Nature to her former glory. There are multiple trapped animal spirits along the way, some species beginning to reappear on the earth once released. 

These spectral creatures are one of the few means of interaction throughout the game (yes, you can pet them), the narrative instead revealing itself through the various environments. All of the ‘hub’ type areas have their own ideas. Countrysides replaced with landfills, pyramids of TVs atop crumbling buildings and polluted underwater habitats, you travel with Gaia and realise the impact of mankind on Earth. A few cutscenes break up the platforming, in which the disembodied voice of ‘Mother’ explains your powers and begins your journey.

Gaia lives up to her namesake.

Gaia lives up to her namesake.

Gameplay – Succeed or Fall

Controls are simple, which is useful as the linear level designs work as traversal puzzles. Beginning with jumps, your move set grows to include sprinting, air dash and the ability to unleash bursts of life. Triggered by holding and releasing L2, these bursts of life can make trees grow when used in the correct places, then later used to stagger groups of enemies. L1 turns this power into an orb of light, which can be used to activate switches or send ranged attacks at the Devourers.

Although the Devourers are interestingly designed, the combat is not as graceful as the gliding jumps of Gaia. Using L1 to attack requires you to be facing toward the enemy, leaving you vulnerable to damage and being grabbed as you try to dodge using circle. While the lumbering enemies sometimes feel overwhelming, there’s the occasional memory postcard to be collected upon defeating them, so conflict is necessary if you wish to see everything.

Being central to the game, the platforming is creative and, for the most part, fluid. The longer you hold X, the higher your jump, the same hold technique being used for air dashing with R2. Gaia’s movements are as light as the power she casts and the stylized levels require you to utilise your moves in different ways. While the world seems to be open, there are only so many paths you can take, all of which make you feel as though you are in control of your direction and discoveries. 

Being a platforming game (or me being a bad platform player) you will fall. A lot.

Being a platforming game (or me being a bad platform player) you will fall. A lot.

Audio & Graphics – Ominous Environments

There is a bleak beauty to After Us; the world is barren, in ruins and covered in the remains of man-made hazards. Yet despite the ominous atmosphere, the panoramic views offer spectacular visuals. Lighting especially has been used to great effect, transforming crane filled skylines into picturesque scenes or Gaia’s glow shining in the gloom. Daniel Elms’ soundtrack subtly guides you through the landscapes, intensifying as you enter the unknown and working as the gentle pulse behind the atmospheric title. 

After Us was reviewed on PS5 with a key provided by Tara Bruno PR

After Us succeeds in delivering a unique and stylish platform experience. While the mechanics are simple, you are challenged to use them in different ways throughout the 12 hour(ish) experience, although sometimes depth perception may cause an aggravating amount of falls. Personally, the story was interesting but lacked the depth needed to feel the emotions which were conveyed on screen. This being said, After Us is a visually stunning game, containing a variety of interesting art designs being followed by the soothing, sometimes eerie soundtrack.
  • Excellent and effective abstract artsyle.
  • Creative level design.
  • Expansive world.
  • Petting animal ghosts.
  • One or two stutters in frame rate.
  • Combat felt like an obstacle.

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