Others provide functionality, like Twilen, the opportunistic merchant who sells Ori shards, equippable stones that provide our hero with active skills or passive buffs. You won't need to interact much with Wellspring Glade's inhabitants to finish the story, but you'll unearth a treasure trove of side quests and secrets by dedicating time to the village. The more grounded, yet still clever, conversations with these new characters adds an extra layer of connection to the game's world.
Afterparty falls short of the standard that Night School set with Oxenfree. While it boasts a strong setting and brilliant set-up, it leans heavily on writing that just isn’t strong enough to shoulder the load. I still can’t wait to see what Night School does next, but Afterparty feels like a watered-down take on Oxenfree. Here’s hoping they can mix up something a little stronger for the next round.
Generally, though, The Park is an effective experience. It avoids the first-person horror genre’s worst habits while conveying an engaging story. It leans hard on horror tropes (and fails to interrogate well-trod stereotypical presentations of mental illness) but manages to unearth something potent in the process. Your mileage will certainly vary; roller coasters are thrilling for some, nauseating for others. I enjoyed this ride.
That said, The Church in the Darkness is a smart stealth game that impressively warps to reflect your actions. It lets you get in and break out as you see fit. While failure still feels like failure, success is sweet and varied. Once it gets a hold of you, you may not want to break out, at all.