What Comes After is not really a game more than it is a love letter to yourself, especially those who consider themselves burdens to the people around them. This is from the same creator of Coffee Talk, another amazing title that Chelly absolutely loved, and between Rolling Glory Jam and Flynns Arcade, we are getting What Comes After on the Nintendo Switch.
I’m just going to cut right to the point. This review will not be a “whether or not” you should play this game review, but a why you should play this game review. This is an excellent piece of commentary that serves to help so many of us in this journey called life, and it is absolutely something every gamer should play.
You play as Vivi, a young woman who barely makes the last train to go home, and you can immediately tell that she is a very timid and reserved individual. She recognizes that the train is not so packed, so you journey to find an open seat to sit down. Along the way, you can’t help but eavesdrop on the conversations taking place on the train. You hear from all sorts of people who are keeping their minds busy and processing their days.
Once Vivi finds a seat, she sits down and begins to fade… and fade… and fade… until suddenly she wakes up to find the train is completely empty and somehow different. This is the core of the experience, as Vivi has somehow crossed the spectrum and is now in the presence of the dead on their way to what comes after.
The staunch contrast between what the living were talking about compared to what the dead were contemplating was simply mind-blowing. The living were going through the motions and almost acting as if they were lifeless while the dead loved life and many of them wanted to go back. The amount of comparisons you can draw from the two sides presented in What Comes After shows the complexities of both life and death.
POSSIBLE SPOILER NOTE: From this point, I may teeter on the line of spoiling, so please continue with caution.
Vivi sees herself very poorly, and although little time is spent listening to her, Vivi’s actions and word usage speak loudly her self-image and what she thinks she has to offer the world. The harsh parallel between her world and the one she is existing in is fascinating. Everyone on the train, from the youngest to the oldest, are all at different stages of grief and acceptance, while Vivi is wondering why she is even on the train, beating herself up, and constantly apologizing to just about everyone on board as if their death was her responsibility.
She does not realize just how special and amazing she is, because she is too caught up and mesmerized by everyone else and how lucky they are, even in death. It is a commentary on how we view life and death, and clearly Vivi thinks that death is the better option to some degree.
There are so many heavy conversations in What Comes After that put so much of life into a different perspective, and it is a grand lesson on thinking outside of your own world and growing in the necessary skill of empathy. There is even a moment in the game where Vivi approaches a ghost baby who is able to speak eloquently despite his infant look, and the conversation they have opens up a world that many of us either don’t care about or never give the time to think about. This is the reason alone to play this game, because if you can make it through every conversation and learn from it, you will absolutely come out a better person.
Not a single passenger lacks interest, and as you progress, you will come into contact with non-human ghosts that open the door to life even more. This is one of those games that can easily be played multiple times to rekindle conversations had and relearn how to connect with certain people in certain situations.
There is even one moment in the game, particularly, that brought tears to my eyes. Seeing Vivi remember a couple moments from her life, as her eyes welled up, reminded me that sometimes the most important reminders to live are the little positive ones that happen every day, like eating a meal with family or friends, walking and observing the world around, or reconnecting with someone after a long disconnect. There are simply so many powerful moments in the game that serve to help make you a better person and encourage you to love yourself more.
Despite the depth and weight of many of the conversations, there are also light ones with some great comedy as well. Vivi, when she is in a good mood, expresses some genuinely amusing humor in the midst of some interesting conversations with some of the passengers. The nice balance between lighthearted conversations and heavy ones is yet another great reminder of what life has to offer.
Although they can be difficult to pay attention to because of everything happening within the story, the soundtrack and art style are both amazing. The soundtrack doesn’t offer a whole lot, but when it is present it adds so much more to What Comes After. Likewise, the artwork is beautiful, but it is simple enough to not distract you from the conversations happening.
The only unfortunate thing I ran into were a couple minor typos here and there, but this did not distract from the experience. I am sure this will be patched soon which will only make the game ever better.
Sure, What Comes After is not really a game. It is more of a motivator to love yourself and understand how other people function. The theme of life and death is heavy, but it puts so many dialogs on the table that we, as humans, need to think about more often.
This is not a very long game, but like I said, it is one you will want to visit many times over. This is a challenging experience unlike anything else on the Nintendo Switch, and for the insanely cheap price that it is asking for, I cannot tell you how much you need to buy this game. It will open your mind and heart like nothing else on the console, and it is just a journey that we all need to take. Because at points in our own life, we are Vivi, and we need that reminder that we are special, just like this game.
Excellent social commentary
Unique and powerful dialogs
Beautiful yet simple animation style
A couple small typos
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.