What comes after the first success? With Coffee Talk, Mohammad Fahmi (aka fahmitsu) and his team created an instant classic at the beginning of the year that delighted fans all over the world with its warm characters and clever narrative mechanics. Shortly before the release, however, Fahmi left Indonesia’s creative workshop Toge Productions to work on his own project. Almost 11 months later, What Comes After, the talented writer’s next game comes out. Can he and his new team around Rolling Glory Jam build upon the success of Coffee Talk?
To say it right from the start: What Comes After is not Coffee Talk 2. Nevertheless, Fahmi’s handwriting is still clearly visible, because everyday things are linked to interesting and above all emotional stories again. The focus on the narrative remains the leading design decision.
In What Comes After, we slip into the role of Vivi, a young woman who leaps through the closing doors of a subway train at the last moment. Since the carriage is already full, Vivi first has to find a way past the passengers, who all wear face masks in an exemplary manner. While looking for a seat, we talk to people on the train and read short dialogues about their lives. Once she finds a spot, however, Vivi notices how exhausted she is from her day and soon falls asleep …
The game then uses this admittedly not entirely original trick to tell a heartwarming and at times slightly kitschy story about life, death, and human interaction. It’s difficult to write about the story without revealing too much (the game only lasts about an hour). Suffice to say that the narrative focuses on the spirits of the deceased, how they reflect on the living, and is not afraid of metaphysical references.
What Comes After can be understood as an adventure game in the broadest sense, but basically, it’s more of a visual novel in which you can move around too. The subway serves as a stage for us to gradually meet different characters with whom we can have conversations. There are no puzzles or even action elements, What Comes After is a purely conversation-based game.
The short playing time, the pretty but very comic-like 2D graphics, and the reduced gameplay elements indicate that the developers at What Comes After had significantly fewer resources at their disposal than they did with Coffee Talk. The game can indeed create fundamentally sympathetic characters and moves us to tears again but does not reach the depth, scope, and production value of Coffee Talk.
But if you look at What Comes After independently, all that remains is an entertaining little narrative gem that is able to co-exist with the pulse of time and inspires you to reflect on the quality of life and death as well as pays new attention to the age-old motto of “carpe diem”. Exactly the right thing under today’s circumstances, we think, and therefore can issue a full recommendation for What Comes After. Still, we wish Fahmi will have more budget and time to realize his next game. And who knows, maybe Vivi will find her way into a cozy café in Seattle at some point, looking for a warm drink and good advice …
Transparency: This review is based on the PC version purchased by the reviewer. A team member of Virtual SEA is involved in the translation of the game but did not participate in the review process in any form.