Fashion brand Balenciaga have released a video game to showcase their new autumn collection and, as a lot of things will be this week, it’s very cyberpunk. With an edgy name like Afterworld: The Age Of Tomorrow, I expected nothing less, really. The free browser game drops you into an industrial complex in the year 2031, where neon yellow trainers are sold on every street corner (seriously, why so many ugly trainers?), and a suspicious number of people seem to be wearing suits of armour under their jeans.
It’s basically a walking simulator where your goal is to wander through five different zones, each slightly more trippy than the last.
Here’s a video with some of the highlights of my playthrough (quick warning that it was quite jittery in parts, but I’ve chopped those out as best I can).
Zone 1 is a large industrial market kinda thing, where clothes are displayed on railings and shelves, and NPCs (models?) are standing around looking cooler than you. A few of them dress scarily similar to my sister, who I now assume has the ability to time travel.
Crossing into Zone 2 kicks off the cyberpunk vibes, as a scary lady with dark makeup appears in a cutscene, with strange lights dancing across her face. The next thing you know you’re outside in a big city, with odd shaped cars zooming by, and lots of people wearing the same purple jacket. Presumably there are clones in the year 2031, because there are too many for it to be mere coincidence.
Reaching the end of the busy city street, suddenly it is nighttime and you’re waiting for a bus. The bus begins to fly and twist in a very unnatural way, and now I think I might be high. Arriving at Zone 3 I am greeted by a woman who has blood dripping from her mouth and I am now scared for my life. The vibe of this game changed very quickly to potential horror and I am afraid. Moving past her, though, is a lovely garden built into concrete. The sense of unease does not leave, however, because now there are creepy dolls on benches and I’ve noticed lots of these NPCs are inexplicably wearing various pieces from a suit of armour. Fashion, I guess.
Zone 4 is a forest. There are more people dressed in cool outfits here. They look very out of place. I follow a rabbit through to a clearing. The rabbit is not dressed in designer clothes. Now I’m at a rave in the middle of a forest and I’m struggling to understand what this has to do with showcasing clothes, but it looks cool at least.
Shortly after I get ushered into a cave, Zone 5, and it feels a little bit as though I’ve been initiated into a cult. The cave opens up and there’s a path up to a sword trapped in a rock. It’s probably meant to be some excalibur thing but this whole area looks a bit like the last level of Dark Souls 3. Pulling the sword from its stone it’s revealed that I’ve been wearing a suit of armour all along. The final screen makes you do breathing exercises, and it all ends with the quote: “Congratulations. You have reached the highest level of digital enlightenment.”
Definitely a cult.
If you want to have a go yourself, you can play it on your phone or on a PC in-browser on Balenciaga’s website. It only takes around 20 minutes to play through, or you can just have a flick through the lookbook, if you’re more interested in the fashion itself.
Some warnings if you do play it: it’s pretty jittery, with frames dropping and cutscenes lagging a bit, and it’s frustrating that you can’t explore some of the other cool areas you can see. There are restaurants and more forest clearings that would be great to mosey around in, alas you have to follow a pretty strict path.
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