After Us review

by on May 26, 2023

Using a video game to get an important real world message across might seem like a noble goal, but it’s not one that’s easy to pull off. If a video game focuses too hard on getting its point across then it’s possible that the gameplay might suffer, and the people playing it will be too busy moaning about how badly a character controls to think about the horrors of war or animals in need. After Us looks to navigate this tricky situation though, by combining a message about the impact of humans on the planet with some good old fashioned platforming.

Our godly protagonist Gaia has a tough task on her hands, because the Earth is all but ruined. Guided by the voice of a big tree (obviously) it’s up to her to free the ghosts of all the now extinct animals on the planet, and fight back against the pollution. This isn’t an easy task though, because we really did a number on this poor world.

A screenshot of After Us

Now from that description of the story you’d probably assume that this was a narrative based game, maybe with a bit of wandering thrown in for good measure. Nope, After Us is a full blown 3d platformer set in this currently miserable location. You’ll spend the majority of your time in the game jumping between abandoned cars and climbing ruined buildings, all while looking for the best collectables in video game history.

Finding the ghosts of extinct animals is just delightful, because when you release them from their slumber they appear about the world. This means cute dogs, majestic oxen and playful pigeons will bring the linear levels to life once you free them, with plenty of them happy to provide some petting opportunities too. Dashing through caves full of furry friends is my idea of a good time, and watching the sky fill up with spectral fish in certain sections truly is a sight to behold.

In terms of actual gameplay, After Us is no slouch either. Gaia has plenty of movement abilities to play around with right from the start of the game, like running, double jumping and even an air dash. As time goes on you’ll unlock moves like the ability to climb certain surfaces and grind on vines, and before you know it you’ll be getting up onto all sorts of desolate structures on your quest.

A screenshot of After Us

The platforming in the game is perfectly serviceable, but could definitely be better. Gaia is very floaty to control, and getting her to land where you want her to can be a bit of a challenge. Alongside this she will also die when she falls from a high place (which happens way more often than you’d think) and there are patches of evil goo that kill you instantly if you get close to them. These platforming niggles and environmental hazards aren’t too much of an issue early on, but as the game progresses the added difficulty brings them to the forefront.

Despite these issues the platforming is for the most part enjoyable, which is more than can be said for the combat. The enemies in After Us are known as The Devourers, and they’re essentially greedy zombie humans who have sucked the planet dry. To take them out you have to fire your magic floating orb at them, while dodging their attacks. The main issue with this is that your projectile based offence rarely hits the target, and when it does it barely deals any damage. Inevitably this just means that a Devourer will manage to grab you mid-fight and you’ll have to mash X to escape. To call this combat loop tedious would be an understatement.

It isn’t all bad for After Us though, visually the game is absolutely stunning. The tragic environments of the decimated world are truly a sight to behold, from the highways of floating cars to the dusty wastelands packed with decaying buildings. Perhaps the best visual moments though come from you using your nature powers to cover nearby surfaces in grass. Standing under a pylon and covering it in lush green plants never stops being satisfying, and is occasionally even important to progress.

A screenshot of After Us

I should mention the technical issues I experienced playing After Us, because they are pretty noticeable. When loading in new areas the game often freezes for a few seconds before letting you continue, and this happens pretty regularly. It’s hardly going to ruin the experience for you, but it did take me out of the action during some fairly special moments.

After Us is a beautiful game with an important message about how we live our lives as consumers, that ultimately struggles to provide engaging enough gameplay to stick the landing. Setting ghost critters free and exploring the world is enjoyable, but the floaty platforming and dodgy combat really let it down.


A gorgeous world to explore
The ghost animals are the best collectibles in gaming
Has an important message


The combat is just plain bad
Platforming doesn't feel fantastic
Has some technical issues loading new areas

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

After Us is gorgeous and has some important things to say about consumerism, but actually playing it isn't always fantastic.