What Comes After isn’t an easy game to talk about. It’s not quite a game and its subject is not commonly seen in games. I wanted to avoid talking too much about death, but that’s what this game is all about. But even with its short time play, hours after finishing it, it still has me thinking.
What happens after we die?
The entire plot of What Comes After focuses on a young woman, Vivi, who accidentally falls asleep while riding the train home. When she wakes up, she discovers the train has turned into one that takes people to the afterlife.
Initially, Vivi thinks she has died on the train ride home and begins to think about how she died and its effects on the other passengers. But when she begins walking around, she finds the train’s conductor and learns that she’s not actually dead. Although she’s not dead, her presence on the train isn’t necessarily an accident. She’s given two options. The first is to simply return to her seat and wait for the train to complete its route. Otherwise, she can use the time on board to talk to the other passengers and maybe learn more about them.
For the rest of the game, you spend the time wandering through the different train compartments and interacting with the other passengers. Sure, you can return to your seat and just wait it out, but the game wants you to interact with the other passengers. By speaking to them, you learn about what brought them there and perhaps even get a better understanding of appreciating life or accepting one’s death.
Coping with loss
It’s hard to avoid spoiling a game that only takes about an hour to complete. Heck, you can technically finish the game in 10-15 minutes if you decide to just return to your seat and not talk to anyone on the train. Your curiosity around the subject of death will dictate how deep you go into talking to those on the train. This train feels at capacity and just about everyone on board has something different to say.
Death is a subject I think a lot about. It’s the reason why I was so interested in playing What Comes After. The game does a great job of staying vague about its perception of the afterlife. Although the game is called “What Comes After”, it’s not really about that. Instead, the focus is more on how those riding the train come to accept their deaths.
For Vivi, the time spent on the train is meant to help her understand her own life. As she talks to more riders, we start to learn why she’s a guest on the train and not a passenger. By not talking and learning about how others have lived their lives, it’s impossible for Vivi to truly appreciate what she has in the real world.
Play What Comes After once and probably never again
For a game I actually enjoyed, I don’t ever see myself reliving the experience. I got everything the developers intended on showing, and it will still linger in my mind for a while after. Although the subject isn’t for everyone, I think those who think about death should give it a shot. What Comes After is an inexpensive game on Steam and is often on sale.