Afterlife Odyssey is a short walking simulator created in two weeks by Pano Klironomos for the IGU Winter Jam and is its winning submission. Set in a frozen wasteland in the afterlife, you must help the legged-and-one-eyed creature Thanatos by answering questions surrounding your death. The only problem: you don’t remember anything!
Released: 29 November 2021
Available on: itch.io
Wait, do I need to fill in paperwork even in the afterlife?
In Afterlife Odyssey, the only thing you remember when showing up in the icy afterlife is your name, which isn’t enough for Thanatos’ bureaucratic organization. However, they offer to go with you as you ask both newly departed souls and those at peace about your story. To do this, you must walk (or sprint) around and approach entities such as ghosts, skulls, and even trashcans to talk. Some of these ghostly souls are unhelpful, some give insight into the harrowing events that happened in their previous life, while others are willing to help. You can also interact with objects to solve simple puzzles, such as finding a key to unlock a gate.
Although there are quite a few characters of different shapes and sizes, most of them are just spectre-like souls wandering the land with little variety, and they’re not even taking up residence in any of the buildings or shelters filling up the background, which felt like wasted world-building potential.
Everything’s icy here
The afterlife is a deathly, icy blue environment where everyone is at peace and nothing eventful happens, all united by the prospect of having already died before. There’s nothing that conveys the sudden transition to death better than what the world looks like: floating islands, tall human towers emerging from the ground, and oil drums burning fire. This is compounded more by the constant whispers surrounding you and the sounds of the wind howling, which is accompanied by serene, melancholic music.
Although very short for a narrative-driven game (you can complete it in ten minutes), Afterlife Odyssey does well in taking the idea of life after death away from beautiful heavens and fiery hells to that of a freezing-cold purgatory. Though created in a brief period of time as a jam submission, the setting and world can benefit greatly from having more inhabitants, more stories, and an exploration of the organizations keeping Thanatos (and possibly others) employed. That said however, the ending is very touching!