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DoorQ.Com | REVIEW: Afterworld: The End of the World Is Nigh (And Interactive)
 
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REVIEW: Afterworld: The End of the World Is Nigh (And Interactive)

The “internet,” the vast series of underground tubes through which information travels (I’m assuming on the backs of some fast moving pack animal), has provided us with growing amounts of entertainment over the past few years.  Obviously, as Jody and the boys have shown, the internet’s potential as a filmic storytelling medium is really starting to gain momentum, moving beyond the pioneering world of pornography (and don’t try to tell me that porn has not been the driving force behind the internet for the past 15 years) and into something that involves fewer penises being forced into fewer things.  As this happens, we’re getting more and more web-series and creative products to delight, amuse, and distract us from our habits of cyber-philandering.

 

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 I recently stumbled onto a neat little project called “Afterworld.”  I suck, I know.  If I was really cool, I would have known about this 2 years ago when it was still early in production.  Afterworld is the episodic tale of Russell Shoemaker, a man that survives “the fall,” an ambiguous cataclysmic event that wiped out a vast majority of the population and destroyed most electronic devices.  Russell, who had been on business in New York City, is now determined to travel across the country to his home in Seattle (without the help of technology, I might add) in hopes of discovering his wife and daughter still alive.  Along the way, Russell encounters the good and the bad, people thriving in a world without technology and those suffering.  He finds cults, bounty hunters, and government conspiracies, all of which slowly inch him toward Seattle and toward the truth behind what caused "the fall."

 

The site and the story are centered around “locations,” or cities that Russell visits along his travels.  Each location offers 5 episodes and an episode recap.  The episodes within each location tell the single story of the events within that city while allowing Russell to incrementally discover more about the cause of world events.

 

The story is interesting, particularly in the beginning.  I honestly haven’t made it through all 130 3-5 minute episodes, so it may pick up immensely as time moves on, but it does sag in the middle a touch.  The structured layout of 5 episodes per city with one encapsulated story told in each 5 episodes plays a large role in the eventual dragging nature of the series; a number of the adventures Russell must go through don’t seem especially pertinent to the larger tale.  And the knowledge that everything regarding that storyline will be wrapped up within that location and within those 5 episodes takes away from a lot of the drama and tension of the situation.  Of course, keep in mind that I’m watching this AFTER it was told episodically with weekly installments.  Perhaps the anticipation of having to wait for next week’s episode would have added to the drama.

 

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Truth is, while I’m shitting all over how the series has a tendency to lag, I still think it’s pretty cool.  The storyline as a whole is an interesting idea, and while it’s not told brilliantly, the writer isn’t particularly bad either.  The most intriguing part of the series, in my opinion, is in its presentation.  The locations are offered to you in an interactive map that tracks Russell’s path.  Clicking on a city brings you that city’s episodes.  Also, for each episode, there is an entry into Russell’s journal.  The journal can be read, and various items that Russell mentions in the series proper can be examined with more detail.  I’ll admit that I haven’t been especially consistent in reading the journal, but it’s a neat feature, and if I was watching the show during it’s production and waiting eagerly for the next installment, I’m sure I’d spend as much time scouring the journal as I do watching the series.  Also, the show isn’t exactly a show either.  It’s a collection of computer generated 3-D images presented as a slideshow (with occasional movement worked into the slides).  It’s done almost entirely as voiceover.  The voice work is pretty good, and while I found this presentation style distracting at first, I don’t even notice it now.  In fact, I kind of like it; it’s like watching a comic book.

 

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Check out the entire series of Afterworld at www.afterworld.tv.  Even if you don’t find the story engaging, it gives interesting insight into the possibilities of storytelling as it evolves and comes into its own (both in terms of interactivity and alternative styles of presentation) on our new digital media platforms and developing internet technology. 

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