Afterfall: InSanity Review

Ambition is probably the most notable trait of Afterfall: InSanity. The Polish, indie, third-person survival horror game wants to be huge affair. It wants to grab you and bury you in its story, thrill you with its close-range melee fights, build a world around you that can drive a franchise and make you question what’s real and what isn’t. Not all these things get accomplished, but for my experience with the game, I’ve found myself erring on the side of optimism. Afterfall could use more polish and and is at times a little undercooked, but it scores points for the effort.

Afterfall: InSanity: PC (Reviewed)
Developer: Intoxicate Studios
Publisher: Nikolas Games
Released: November 25, 2011
MSRP: $29.99

It’s the end of the world. Nuclear bombs have laid waste to the world in a scenario that would make Dr. Strangelove proud. In the interim, people have been living in underground vaults called Shelters, set up by the Polish government, since the disaster happened 20 or so years earlier, and life is boring. It’s also a little dangerous, since people locked up in these underground vaults without sunlight often suffer from a form of severe cabin fever known as Confinement Syndrome. That’s where our protagonist, psychiatrist and pharmacologist Dr. Albert Tokaj, comes in. He’s the resident shrink at Glory Shelter, and he’s having some issues of his own.

Almost immediately, weird stuff starts happening to Tokaj. He’s having bad dreams, falling asleep at work, and getting into trouble in general. He’s dispatched on a mission by his Shelter’s resident fascist leader to figure out why some people on the lower levels are acting strangely. Turns out the “behavior problems” being reported are actually “murderous zombie-like rages” and no one notified him ahead of time. Also there are mutants.

Welcome to Afterfall’s survival horror aspects. Tokaj moves quite a bit like Dead Space’s Isaac Clark, only he can make use of melee weapons and attacks as well as firearms (most of which aren’t available in the early portions of the game). Swings are wide and feel like they have a lot of weight behind them, but leave Tokaj open and vulnerable most of the time. He moves slowly and deliberately — there’s a sprinting option, but you trade a clear view of your surroundings for swaying, hazy panic, demonstrating that the sprint is really meant to feel more like fleeing than anything. Melee attacks and running are governed by a stamina bar that depletes to keep you from swinging away wildly.

Just about everything that’s long and blunt in Afterfall is a viable melee weapon, although the best seems to be the game’s signature fire ax. Melee weapons are available in abundance; ammunition, notably less so. For the most part, you’ll need a handy melee weapon that will allow you to block attacks and counter with some decapitation. The melee fighting is passable, but suffers from some setbacks — notably, that despite having stats similar to those of Dead Island, melee weapons all feel and handle pretty much the same. Once you have an ax, you basically can keep it for the duration, or find another one, as they’re basically everywhere.

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3 Comments on Afterfall: InSanity Review

K3f1r3k

On December 22, 2011 at 11:58 am

“Afterfall scores points in the atmosphere department, however. Much of the sound design and music composition are extremely good”
I’m sorry, but I really doubt you ever heard any extremely good music or sound design if you write such BS. “Indie” or low budget arguments are no excuse for such badly produced soundtrack (especially in cut scenes) or sound effects that are bland and repeated in an irritating way.

Phil Hornshaw

On December 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Okay, guess I’ve never heard extremely good music then (since we’re making sweeping generalizations about my experience as a human being based on your opinion disagreeing with mine), because there were plenty of times where I found it effective. Sure, the enemy sound effects really needed additional variety. But Afterfall makes some very good use of ambient sound and I was pleasantly surprised by musical choices and additions at many different points.

K3f1r3k

On December 23, 2011 at 5:19 am

I can totally understand, that music in some points works, especially the dark ambient sounds when exploring (only because the “music” is not apparent). But it does not change the overall soundtrack’s mediocre quality. It is terrible. Some of the best examples are “Main Theme” (mostly from where the orchestra starts to play) and “Random Encounter”. Those are some of the cleanest examples of composer(s) clumsiness. They simply didn’t know what they were doing and i’s very apparent, especially in those orchestral moments and cutscenes. Having said that, I really was surprised about what you wrote – music was “extremely good”. If you write something like that, you suggest two things: either there are little (or not as many) soundtracks with similiar quality sound and musical wise out there (if that refers to mediocrity – I agree) or this soundtrack is one of the highest quality you ever encountered in games (hence my doubt that you ever heard anything “extremely good”).