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Aftergrinder Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Aftergrinder does a great job of building on a simple premise and creating a fast-paced game that is simultaneously addictive and frustrating. Unfortunately, the gameplay is a bit limited and the locations start to blur together after a while, but fans of twitch-based platformers will get a kick out of the skateboarding antics. Aftergrinder is a fun ride that almost nails the landing. Rating: 64%
Aftergrinder
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
As corny as it sounds, Roll7's OlliOlli filled me with hope. After Activision and Electronic Arts ran 3D skateboarding into the ground, I was excited that maybe we would see a new generation of indie developers take the genre in a more 2D direction. I think that's why I was immediately drawn to Aftergrinder, the debut release from Grave Danger Games. It mixes the sidescrolling intensity of OlliOlli with the trial and error platforming of Super Meat Boy to create an engaging new PC game that is equal parts frustrating and invigorating.

There's a story here, though it's barely worth talking about. It's the basic Romeo and Juliet setup, where there are rival gangs and The Lady has fallen in love with a boy from the wrong side of town. She's supposedly racing through the city to save her lover from a beat down, but none of this is brought up after the initial cinema. The few lines of narration are just enough to get us in the mood for what's to come, which is 90 levels of punishing platform puzzles.


The gimmick here is that The Lady is able to skate on both the ground and the ceiling. In fact, she's basically limited to doing only those two things. She does this because she can't olli, grind or do any tricks, so warping from the top of the screen to the bottom is the only way The Lady can make it past the many challenging level designs. She can also dash forward for a limited time and duck by holding up or down, but that's about it. That's all you have to make it through some devilishly difficult obstacle courses.

It starts out where all you need to do is avoid hitting walls, but quickly escalates from there. You'll have to navigate portals, crouch to avoid low ceilings, hit triggers to open up locked doors, avoid lasers and even outrun homing enemies. Perhaps the most frustrating moment comes when you zip through gates that will reverse your controls, constantly forcing you to keep track of whether everything is normal or flipped. The game is good about introducing a new obstacle every few levels, as well as adding to the ones you already know.

The good news, if you can call it that, is that the levels are only a few seconds long. The stages are generally no more than 15 or 16 seconds in length, but it will take a lot longer to memorize, dodge and luck your way through these courses. And making it to the finish line is only half of the mission, since you're also expected to pick up the three strategically-placed stars littering the level. If you can do all that, you'll move on to an even tougher stage with a trickier layout.

Apart from the lasers, homing enemies and portals, I'm a little disappointed that there isn't more to the gameplay. Aftergrinder feels like the kind of game that would fit perfectly on phones and other mobile devices, which is both a good and bad thing. While I like the simplicity, I felt like it was missing something to incentivize me to replay the stages. You can race for better times and collect the stars you missed, but there's not much else to do besides that. It would have been fun to see some extra objectives or even a trick button.

Aftergrinder (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

I'm also thoroughly disappointed by the backgrounds. Instead of making three unique locations, Aftergrinder only bothers to change the color scheme. You'll see a lot of the same urban environments across all 90 stages, which starts to get old after the first few levels. It seems like such a simple thing, but mixing up the backgrounds goes a long way to break up the monotony. As it is, you'll spend the entire time looking at the same drab backgrounds while collecting stars and avoiding obstacles.

Aftergrinder does a great job of building on a simple premise and creating a fast-paced game that is simultaneously addictive and frustrating. Unfortunately, the gameplay is a bit limited and the locations start to blur together after a while, but fans of twitch-based platformers will get a kick out of the skateboarding antics. Aftergrinder is a fun ride that almost nails the landing.
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