Afterfall: InSanity is an independently developed game which I can only assume was meant to emulate the experience of playing survival horror giants such as Dead Space, Doom 3, and Resident Evil. It was distributed based on an interesting premise; if it managed to pick up ten million pre-orders, all worth only a single dollar, the developers of Intoxicate Studios promised to donate ten percent of that to charity. Understandably, and as far as I have been able to tell, they did not reach this goal. And while Afterfall: InSanity is certainly worth the original one dollar they were asking for, I can't honestly say that I would be willing to pay much more than that.
A Decent Yarn - The biggest stand out point for me is the storyline. Afterfall: InSanity is coming off of the heels of some massively popular post apocalyptic games, but manages to stay unique within the genre. The world is interesting and believable, and certainly has a unique visual style which I couldn't help but appreciate. There is quite a bit of story to take in, especially through the slow, plodding start of the game, and I found that if there was any reason to stick around, that certainly would have been it.
Nice Shiny Things - The game looks great when it wants too, utilizing lighting effects and sharp textures to some very visually appealing ends. I found this impressive based solely on the independent nature of the game, proving that not every indie effort has to look like Cave Story. Things ran at a fairly solid frame rate, so I can at least appreciate the fact that the game itself was not trying to get in my way the entire time I was slogging through it.
THE BIGGER, FILTHIER PICTURE
Where's the Kitchen Sink? - Unfortunately I disliked nearly everything else about the game. The biggest issue it has is trying to do too many things, and doing them all in an inferior way. The game plays like a clunkier, more plodding Dead Space, while completely lacking the tension and fear that came with it. The pacing is terrible, with constant breaks in between the mediocre combat sections to slow everything down, and the half-hearted flashlight mechanic ripped straight from Doom 3 is totally under utilized since close quarters combat is such a common occurrence. In Doom 3, I needed to see where the enemies were. In Dead Space, I needed to see where they were. In Afterfall, I don't really need to see them until they are close enough to smash with a sledgehammer. It is a completely transparent effort used solely to turn up the tension, but it manages to be ineffective in nearly every sense of the word; mechanics thrown in for no reason other than to artificially increase my dread manage to instill another emotion in me, and it is certainly not terror.
Comba-*yawn* Oh My. Zzzzzz... - The combat in this game is a chore. I like the emphasis on hand to hand, and I can see what they were going for. But chaining combos seemed to happen at random for me, and most of the fighting resulted in a painfully boring back and forth between me and the countless zombie like enemies that rarely felt threatening or tense. It may be unfair to compare this to Dead Space, but since it wants so much to be just like its superior counterpart, I don't think I can be blamed for wanting it to at least be a little closer to that far more enjoyable experience. The protagonist has quite a bit of mobility for the most part, and is able to turn and run quickly, but as soon as you get in a fight, one button press will send him into an arduous animation with nothing to do between but block and roll out of the way occasionally. And the fact that they felt the need to throw in the odd QTE was a further kick to the chops that I could have done without; especially when they would come completely without warning, and a few times, disappeared before I was even able to see what key I was expected to press to save my sorry ass.
Marred With Mediocrity - What story exists to compel you to continue in Afterfall is totally ruined by the terrible voice acting, absolutely atrocious character models and animations, and totally cliché events and goals that have been seen dozens of times in every other survival horror game to date. After the likes of F.E.A.R., Condemned, Dead Space, and Silent Hill, it is sad to see a game like Afterfall come out which has seemingly learned nothing from them – or perhaps, which has learned far too much. I had an immediate feeling of “been there done that” which was a total turn off for me. Throw in some flickering “scary” visuals whenever things get weird and I instantly felt that there were not enough frightening young children doing the crab walk on the ceiling, or flashes of dead people accompanied by extra loud sound effects of a screaming woman playing alongside them. At the end of 2011, these elements have become tiring, and have left me a little jaded, perhaps. When a game like Amnesia: The Dark Descent has entered the scene to prove that you don't need to rely on these tired conventions, it makes Afterfall look even more dated and uninspired.
Afterfall: InSanity left me feeling like a gaping hole had been punctured into my week; a hole filled with memories of boring gameplay, laughable attempts at inspiring fear, and a general, rotten taste in my mouth that will easily be washed away by a slew of superior survival horror games, most of which were made years before this one. I applaud the creators of the game for making a game that looks so decidedly polished, and one which fits in seamlessly with the current generation, but it simply wasn't any fun for me to play, and that is what counts. I love independent developers and games, and support them wherever possible; but if the games they make don't do anything to make me want to play them, I can only support the effort put behind them, and not the experiences themselves. Afterfall is proof that the guys behind the game have what it takes to a decent package together, and I hope they continue to make games after this one. I just don't want those games to be anything like Afterfall: InSanity, because in short, I didn't find it to be very good at all.