Review: What Comes After
Titles like Spiritfarer and Grimm’s Hollow show that imagined afterlives can have immense storytelling power as interactive game experiences. What Comes After by Rolling Glory Jam offers a similar, much shorter fantasy.
You play a young woman named Vivi who falls asleep on the train. When she awakens, she discovers that the train is now filled with spirits destined for “what comes after”. Is she dead? And if not, can the spirits on the train offer her any useful guidance?
The game is structured as a side-scroller, but offers no real choices or challenges. You talk to the beings on the train and move in different directions—that’s it. The whole experience takes about an hour.
Be nice to your houseplants or they’ll lecture you later. (Credit: Rolling Glory Jam / fahmitsu. Fair use.)
That means that the quality of the writing is paramount. Unfortunately, this is where What Comes After falls short. The spirits you talk to share a few sentences about their lives, and may dispense brief platitudes like “Live your life as you see fit and cherish the good people around you.”
Vivi, it is revealed, has struggled with depression and suicidal ideation. These are difficult subjects to tackle, and the game does not do them justice with its fortune cookie wisdom.
What Comes After does offer a couple of sweet moments. You hear the stories of several animals, for example, and encounter a mystical chef who serves very special treats. Some scenes are beautifully illustrated (other scenes are very visually repetitive).
Overall, while it’s clearly a labor of love by a talented team of indie developers, this is one trip to the great beyond you can sit out.