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After Us Is A Story About Finding Hope After “The End”

After Us is a surreal experience through a destroyed city. The familiar mixed with a completely alien environment as Gaia jumps from roads to cars to cinder block all floating in a void. Gaia is tasked with collecting the life force from vessels, the last animals to die, so that Earth can be reborn. This feels like an impossible task made even larger since Gaia is so small. Her innocence is apparent in how her idle movement mimics a small child, while seeing all the destruction with a mature eye.


There’s a constant threat of Gaia being snatched by black sludge tentacles. She almost looks like a doll as she runs betweens these mountains of (possibly) oil. These are instant deaths, but there are enemies Gaia can fight against. The towering devourers, what’s become of humans, will chase and grab her. Gaia can use her life force to free herself, knock devourers off-balance, and ultimately cleanse them. Players will also need to watch out for other dangers like some plastic bags that charge Gaia, flying fishing spears, and even the rain in some areas.

Throughout each area there are spirits that can be collected. Each of these spirits will add a semblance of life as the animal spirits will roam freely. It’s a bittersweet look at what was lost. At the same time a trail of flowers bloom everywhere Gaia steps. This trail fades, but it shows that life can thrive here once again. If it’s given a chance. When Gaia finds each vessel the spirits only appear grateful before moving on, instead of turning vengeful. Though every danger posed to Gaia throughout the game was human made she also chooses to give humanity a second chance.

After Us does have some issues. There are some moments where it’s not clear how players are meant to get somewhere. Especially if the only obvious place is higher than Gaia can jump. Thankfully, the environmental storyteller is easy to pick up on most of the time. I also experienced some glitches where Gaia would get trapped behind invisible walls when trying to exit a room.

Balancing the destruction with hope is pulled off well. The narrative is compelling enough to drive players forward. Even without fighting the devourers. Though the combat does slow the pace once some devourers are cleansed, a memory will be unlocked. It shows them as people just going about their daily lives. The state of the world is shown as a culmination of problems instead of inherent evil. The storytelling of After Us is a breath of fresh air.

Dia Tucker

Hello, fellow adventurers! I’m Dia Tucker, dwelling amidst the vibrant cultures and landscapes of the United States. My journey into the mesmerizing universes hidden within video games began in the whimsical days of my childhood. The epic narratives of the "Mass Effect" and "Elder Scrolls" series have always held a special place in my heart, guiding me through countless worlds and experiences. When I’m not crafting tales through words, you’ll find me delving into the boundless realms of MMOs, embarking on quests, and forging memories with companions from every corner of the globe. I invite you to join me as I share stories, insights, and adventures from both the pixelated worlds and the realms I create with words.

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