Over the course of my nearly 13 years covering mobile gaming, there are a handful of times that I’ve been completely floored by a project that likely otherwise wouldn’t exist if mobile devices and app stores didn’t come around. A hobbyist solo developer with big ideas in their head being able to put those ideas down into code and release it as a game to millions and millions of potential players is a really powerful thing. For instance: Afterplace by developer Evan Kice. Like, how does this thing actually exist for me to play? This is such a remarkable game on so many levels and to think it was made by just a single person, and developed specifically for mobile gamers to enjoy, the whole thing just blows me away.
Afterplace is a top-down action adventure game similar to something like The Legend of Zelda. It takes place in a rather large open world, and one of its key design elements is that there’s no heavy signposting on where to go or what to do. You’re free to roam around and explore the world as you see fit, including hunting for hidden paths that are tucked in all sorts of nooks and crannies of the terrain. As you explore you’ll run into characters who will offer bits of info that can help guide you towards various goals, but there’s no overworld map to reference, no waypoints to point you in the right direction, and no clearcut path you’re expected to follow.
This might sound like it makes Afterplace some sort of unstructured mess, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact one of the most impressive things about this game is how it’s able to guide you towards progressing without actually guiding you. I’m not sure if it’s because everything in the game was designed to all interconnect and ensure you’ll find your way through no matter what actions you do and in what order you do them, or if the game is just so subtle about nudging you in the right direction that you don’t even realize that they’re doing it. Either way it’s brilliant and a refreshing way to experience a game.
It also doesn’t hurt that Afterplace is filled with charming characters and humorous dialogue that makes it hard not to interact with everyone you come across and push things forward, and the controls and combat have been intelligently streamlined for one-handed touchscreen play. It’s simple combat, mind you, but satisfying all the same, and punctuated with some very clever boss battles. Oh! And the soundtrack is absolutely fantastic, and adds to the atmosphere in a huge way. Don’t play through this one with your device on silent. To cap things off the game saves basically everywhere so it’s easy to pop in and out of on a whim, and it’s a fully premium game you pay for up front with no silly business. If anything about the above trailer or what I’ve described interests you in the least, then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed giving Afterplace your time.