Genre: Simulation, Strategy
Gameplay: Managerial / business simulation
Published by: LucasArts Entertainment Company LLC
Developed by: LucasArts Entertainment Company LLC
What constitutes life after death can be argued to the point of hoarseness. But why, if everything has long been known? I will say more: our brother, a gamer, has repeatedly been in the next world and can easily lift the veil of secrecy. Yes, it would be something to open! Everything is simple to the point of banal - after death, EMBO happens ... What? EMBO is an abbreviation: "Ethically Mature Biological Organisms" ... What kind of person? What is the person here? All matches are random. Embo from the planet. The planet has nothing to do with people! So, after death with an ethically developed organism, everything happens ... Everything! And so - everyone is rewarded according to hope. You believed, let's say that a person ... sorry, the embo must be born once, then the court - please, here is your booth for all eternity (or a cauldron, yeah)! Or you thought, for example, that life is a series of rebirths - so there your train departs back to the vale of suffering. Straight, to the right and follow the sign "Baobab"! Didn't believe in suffering? So, there is no torment, do not tremble. Didn't believe in an afterlife at all? Then go otsedova - means, and there is no it! Simplicity, convenience, order... This is how you can define the silhouette of the game Afterlife. But, as they say in England, “the devil is in the details”, and I will try to highlight these details below.
What is a game?
Humorous fusion of a god simulator and a city-building sandbox in an isometric perspective. An ambitious attempt by the venerable LucasArts to push Maxis on the market of economic "managers".
Who is the player?
First of all, it must be emphasized that we are not the creator of this world and not even the supreme deity. The player performs the functions of the demiurge-vindicator, a kind of ruler of the underworld - in the image of the ancient Greek Hades. The idea is this: some "Powers That Be" hired us to provide every ethically developed organism on the Planet with a well-deserved afterlife. By virtue of this function, we do not give a damn who honors us and how, and the moral character of the embo worries us only in connection with the current filling of cauldrons and barns.
The essence and purpose of the game:
We are in charge of two worlds - the lower and the upper, if you like - the underworld and heaven. Between them dangles the Planet - our only source of souls. The inhabitants of the Planet still live in caves and have barely curbed the fire, but they already have developed ideas about what is good and what is bad. As the game progresses, the planet's population will grow and develop more and more sophisticated means of sending fellows to another world. We can also influence their development, but more on that later. To fulfill our duties, we are provided with two unrelated maps - "heaven" with a picturesque river and "hell" with a gloomy lava flow. In these afterlife kingdoms, it is necessary to mark arbitrary areas for various types of posthumous rewards / punishments; and there, and there are eight of them - one universal (but equally mediocre for all inhabitants) and seven specialized - according to the number of major vices and virtues. Accordingly, these are: envy, greed, gluttony, laziness, pride, anger, lust; and antipodes: contentment, mercy, moderation, diligence, meekness, peacefulness and chastity.
The essence of the mechanics: you build the gates to the afterlife, then mark out the zones of vices / virtues and lay paths to them. The souls entering the gates give up hope and follow the paths to the sites where the corresponding shelters are formed. If you meet certain conditions, then over time the havens will evolve to more advanced versions, improving the effectiveness of punishments / rewards per capita. Additionally, for those embo who believe in reincarnation, it is necessary to build stations and special "railway" tracks to the portals of rebirth that are present on the map from the very beginning. For each successfully rewarded / punished Embo, the Existing Forces pay us a certain amount in the game currency - “heavenly pennies”. The amount depends on the development of the planet and the total number of your permanent and temporary wards. For restless souls, you can build Bar Limba, where they will while away the time until you provide them with shelter. If you don’t have bars or you run out of empty seats in them, then the soul is considered lost and goes to the Planet to rattle chains. Lost souls are bad: not only will you not receive funds for them, but you will also be fined! The population of the planet will increase and develop - accordingly, the flow of souls will also increase. Our task is to follow this flow and provide the conditions necessary for the placement of souls in a timely manner, without sliding into a financial hole (which is very simple). Two charming advisers will help us - the angel Aria Goodhalo and the demon Jasper Wormsworth, and financial difficulties, a bouquet of various disasters and (more often) our own short-sightedness will interfere.
What does it remind?
The ears of SimCity 2000 are quite frank. The game has a similar principle of arbitrary marking, building and development of different zones. There is a semblance of crime rate, pollution and attractiveness of the sites - respectively bad and good aura (vibes) of some structures. There are some kind of "power stations", siphons of infinity, only thanks to which torment and pleasure can be eternal. The transport infrastructure is similar - hellish / heavenly paths and their paid maintenance, depending on the traffic density. There are also random disasters, without which it is difficult to imagine a city-building simulator. There are even gift buildings for a certain population. Well, “taxes”, of course, are heavenly pennies, which are never enough for anything.
What is the feature?
Oh, this is the most interesting topic! First truth: what is good for heaven is bad for hell. Hiking is tiring, so in paradise the principle “make their paths straight!” The road system should be as short as possible and as efficient as possible so that the souls do not crowd and can always reach the tabernacles by the shortest route. It would seem that a rational system of distributing punishments will also not interfere with hell? Not! Hell begins with the paths! Here, the roads should be as long and confusing as possible: illogical interchanges, bottle necks, kilometer-long zigzag detours ... everything is like in life, in general. In addition, in paradise they love a variety of zones, in hell - on the contrary, everything should be as monotonous and dull as possible. Auras also play into our hands - a good one helps to develop heaven, a bad one - hell. The siphons of eternity have a bad effect on buildings - which means that in heaven they must be taken out far away, and in hell build them as close as possible to residential areas, mua-ha-ha! The exception is the gates, which equally grieve the righteous and delight the sinners, or, for example, the dwellings of angels / demons (utopias and dystopias), which, on the contrary, are always beneficial to any afterlife quarter.
The second feature: the mechanism of beliefs (tenets), according to which each soul on your plane of existence has a specific purpose of movement. Atheists (NAAAists) do not get to us. The rest are divided into:
- HAHAists - those who are waiting first for punishment in hell, and then for rewards in heaven.
- HOHOists - those who are waiting for either only rewards or only punishment.
- OCRAists - believe only in heaven.
- OPRAists - believe only in the underworld (for obvious reasons, the least popular worldview).
- SUMAists - believe that they will be punished / rewarded for all their vices / virtues in turn.
- SUSAists, on the contrary, believe that only the main vice/virtue will be credited to them.
- ALFists - consider cat meat a delicacy that the posthumous sojourn is eternal.
- RALFists - believe in the inevitable reincarnation after all the pain / pleasure.
From these modules, each soul's code of belief is compiled. Example: HOHORALFSUSAist will go only to hell or only to heaven, where he will temporarily receive the appropriate shelter, after which he will go to reincarnation. And the HAHAALFSUMAist will pass through both the underworld and heaven, where he will rest and endure torment in various havens, and in the latter he will find eternal rest.
From here follows the third feature - have you forgotten about the Planet? A special window with a globe allows you not only to find out the average technological level, popular beliefs, vices and virtues of future wards, but also to influence them! Is the flow of souls too small? You can open to a mortal inventor, say, the idea of gunpowder. Immediately the people will be drawn! If you want to focus on arranging the heavens - send a vision to some shaman, let him spread OCRAism. Boilers idle for the greedy? Throw an idea to mortal marketers. And so on - every whim for your pennies! Cons: 1) Prices bite, 2) You can overdo it. Anger + Splitting of the atom = complete extinction of clients (and radscorpions, mole rats and other super mutants are not allowed into the next world).
Well, the fourth noteworthy nuance. Your havens do not work on their own, but are serviced by angels and demons respectively. Initially, you write them out from other afterlifes, but this is very expensive. It is better to start training your cadres as soon as possible, straight from the righteous and the sinners. Ideally, you should get your own staff of highly professional employees, but if you do not control the recruitment and training of personnel, you will inevitably get a bunch of unemployed people who love to devote their free time to destructive raids in another kingdom, leaving their neighbors without work. The launched case ends in a senseless and merciless war between the beaver and the donkey, in which the player does not participate, as he admires the losing screen.
The concept of two opposing realms works well. With competent and efficient development, your two maps become strikingly different. The variety of gameplay from this, of course, only wins. Various atmospheric nuances are pleasant - for example, a heavenly disaster, a flock of birds of paradise, has an underground counterpart - a flock of bats, and if the first spoils both buildings and the rest of the righteous, then the second ... spoils buildings, but improves the quality of punishments! Indeed, what could be worse than frying in a pan in hell? Just fry up to your ears in guano. It should also be noted a variety of humorous texts and references. For example, the stones from which we pump ad infinitum, the energy of infinity, are not just flying stones, but those very stones from a philosophical paradox that an omnipotent deity cannot lift. The flight of fancy itself is also good - one wonders how much creative work went into hundreds of amusing structures and witty descriptions for them. We will also write down the regular squabbles between your advisors, which are not only amusingly composed, but also voiced with high quality. I’ll mention interesting scenarios with a ready-made problem: a “city” on the verge of a war between angels and demons, an unprofitable “city” with an irrational structure, a major disaster and its consequences ... of course, the concept was brazenly borrowed from Maxis, but this makes it no less interesting to play. Another plus is a well-created atmosphere; I have a favorite line in the description of the task: “Your predecessor built houses from the bulldozer, and when it smelled of fried, he washed off. Rake!” How many emotions at once! After five minutes of the game, I already want to catch up with this demiurge and shake his neck from the bottom of my heart. Well, in general - the design of the game is pleasing to the eye: the palette is well chosen, both in hell and in heaven.
First and foremost - the bestial grin of capitalism. Everything is built on the principles of a market economy, so that there is no “there is no firewood, then the boilers are full of holes, then the devils at the rally”: everything must function and you have to continuously pay for everything. A burning example is that in order for shelters to grow in level, they need to regularly maintain a balance between the mental and physical labor of the inhabitants. Yes, manually. Click on each house and carry a slider. (Here I propose to look at a screenshot, estimate the number of houses and be horrified.) Don't you want to? You can entrust the balance to the machine ... and donate half the income from the shelter. Disabling catastrophes on the toolbar will also cost half the income. It's ridiculous to say that even a cheat code for money can only be dialed five times, after which Saint Quentin Quarantino will appear on the Death Star and roll both your offices into a pancake. Death to malicious cheaters! We add that the growth of the flow of souls is inevitable and not always predictable (disasters also happen on the Planet), which means that it is necessary to develop, but financial problems are aggravated with development. Have fun? Would you like to joke? What games, when there is a hole in the budget again? Sometimes you sit and think, "so that's what you are, hell for negligent mayors of SimCity!".
The second thing that can be highlighted is the artists' controversial sense of proportion. Most of the haunts are disproportionately tall and full of details. Originally, yes, but the densely built-up “city” turns into such a hodgepodge that you can’t really find a separate building without a filter. So the design is for an amateur - as, indeed, the musical accompaniment. No, everything is logical: Hindu tunes, Western Christian choral compositions are guessed, but ... also for an amateur, in general.
What we have in the dry residue:
Product for amateur taste. Original, lively, beautiful, witty, but in places terribly confusing and tedious. Difficult and ambiguous game. It can equally become both a perfectionist's paradise and an accountant's hell.
Who to recommend:
A person with an original taste, not indifferent to economic sandboxes. Finding a common language with the game will also help patience, slight tediousness and a pronounced accounting streak. A sense of humor is a must, religion doesn't matter. Sharply contraindicated for people with an overly serious attitude to life. I personally do not find anything offensive in the game: exclusively folk stereotypes about afterlife are subjected to banter - all these angels with harps on clouds and devils with cauldrons, which have the same relation to a serious religious system as tales about psoglavtsy to notes of ethnographers. If I tried to be offended by this, I would feel extremely stupid. However, the sense of humor, as well as the sense of proportion with a sense of taste, is different for everyone, so the game has a chance to find both ardent fans and ardent haters.