What Comes After Review: Get On The Train

The difficulty that What Comes After brings is, and this is pretty standard for a lot of walking-simulation games, that they are all about finding interesting artifacts and progressing a narrative. Like reviewing a comedy and trying not to just repeat the best jokes. What Comes After is a mood piece, and honestly, it’s the best kind of mood piece, because it’s one set in a single location. Fiction that takes place in one place are some of my favorites. This pops up in movies and episodes of TV I really like, for instance; Hellevator is a Japanese horror sci-fi film about people stuck in an underground elevator with two violent convicts, or how in Deus Ex Machina, after a few minutes, the film doesn’t leave CEO Nathan Bateman’s mountain mansion. In TV, these are usually called bottle episodes, like the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry, George, and Elaine spend the entire episode stuck in line at a Chinese restaurant or the episode of Farscape where the entire crew are stuck in different single color mirror versions of the ship.

I’m not stuck in here with you, you are stuck in here with me…until the next station.

Yes, What Comes After is most reminiscent of top one location movie, Snowpiercer. Subway cars are perfect for a linear narrative because each car can be used to set a different concept or lock certain characters to. Paper Mario: A Thousand Year Door had an entire chapter located in and around a subway that has a murder mystery, so videogames have used the reality jumping properties of subway cars to good use. Each car has tons of people that Vivi can discuss life and what it means to really live, with some letting her open up about her own problems. What Comes After also has a surprising reveal in the later cars that was honestly clever.

This baby could be slapped on the back of the box to summarize the entire game…if this game came with a box.

Almost every video game is to long, except in the rare chance it’s What Comes After, where its way to short. Reading with any level of pace will complete the game in less than an hour, which only leaves time for 2-3 memorable segments and interactions. The game is suppose to take place over one long night on a train, but it takes longer to watch the greatest anime movie about a train at night ever, Night on the Galactic Railroad, than to play through What Comes After. I finished feeling that more areas and ideas could have be covered, and I did not get to talk with the conductor enough. Finding screen shots was difficult because it was hard to find distinct areas that weren’t just the 4-5 screen shots the game used to advertise itself online.

Pros: Unpretentious bottle game about life and dealing with family. Time snapshot of Indonesian civilians dealing with life during Covid, which is probably why a lot of the passengers don’t directly discuss their death, which might be a subtle commentary. Vivi has one super comforting scene near the end that might make the entire game.

Cons: Is to short to a fault, which is coming from someone who thinks all video games are to long. Does not push it’s premise enough. Might as well be a visual novel for how limited the actual gameplay is.

What Comes After is available on the Switch and Steam, and is frustrating to review because all of its big moments are narrative spoilers. It’s a game about feeling uncertain and watching someone who doesn’t care enough about themselves easily relate and comfort others. What Comes After is reverse Spiritfairer, a game about the after live that has parts that are some of my favorite moments in video games ever, but unlike Spiritfairer, one of the most overstuffed and badly paced games I’ll ever defend like it was my own child, What Comes After is missing something. Its worthy of respect but I’m more afraid of my brain forgetting about it in a few days more than any spooky ghost.


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