I Would Love To Have A Few Whiskeys In Mass Effect’s Afterlife Nightclub
Sci-fi nightclubs are usually a bit rubbish. They’re all plasticky, like little hollow microcosms of those tacky lights that look like an eight-year-old’s idea of, “Earth, but 100 years from now.” I actually reckon science-fiction boozers are like one of those old-school neon bar signs, except if you poured glowsticks on top of it and expanded it to be the size of a building. Not Afterlife, though – Afterlife is the place to be.
If you’ve played Mass Effect 2 and 3, you’ll likely remember Afterlife as the heart of Omega. Aria T’Loak hangs out here, reclining on snazzy sofas with the upper echelon of criminal society as she sips on expensive spirits while arranging some of the wildest heists the galaxy has ever seen. Just last month, Mass Effect 2 and 3 writer Jay Turner told me Omega was based on Mos Eisley, and it’s pretty easy to spot the similarities, although Mos Eisley is a bit grittier. The erratic cadence of the Cantina band invokes a sort of aimless chaos where casual drinks could erupt into an all-out bullet ballet in a matter of seconds. Omega – and Afterlife in particular – has more of an elegance to its criminality. Sure, there’s studded armor and spiked drinks everywhere you look, but this is a place where words cut flesh like a warm knife taken to butter. Even Samara’s loyalty mission sees Morinth flirt with you before you leave together, at which point she intends to kill you with her mind while you’re getting it on. That’s a bit more fascinating and complex than shootybangs in a dusty bar that look just like shootybangs in other dusty bars.
This is the best thing about Afterlife: that it’s paradoxically safe despite how dangerous its clientele is. This is where titans of the criminal underworld congregate to meet and spy on each other, where they swap secrets, intel, and drink orders in almost equal measure. And that’s why I’d love to have a couple of pints here – I reckon it would be great craic.
Let’s be real for a second: if I was in Mos Eisley I’d spend my time nursing a beer in the corner, feeling naturally uncomfortable because of the sheer amount of holsters in the room. In Afterlife, though, you can enjoy yourself while you’re inside – the only issue is getting in or out. Krogan bouncers will bounce your head off the wall if you try anything funny, and if you piss someone off on the dancefloor, you’d best believe a salarian hitman is waiting for you by the nearest skycar. I’d like to think going to Afterlife is like going on a really good night out where literally anything can happen – once you keep your mouth shut and your eyes open, you should be fine to just sip whiskey as you drink in the theatrics of everything going on around you. The music also slaps – I’m generally not one for techno or house, but Afterlife is far more Bjork than it is Tiesto. I wouldn’t be surprised if space Geoff Barrow walked up on stage and whacked out a live performance of Mysterons.
Mass Effect has other bars too, but I reckon Purgatory is far inferior to Afterlife. It’s like the difference between a genuinely cool spot in Berlin and one of those touristy clubs where you have to wear black and queue up in the cold for four hours. The music is also a bit like The Venga Boys accidentally time-travelled a century into the future and went with the first sample they heard on their new MIDI board. It feels less comfy, like everyone is just flailing around with windmill arms because they’re not quite sure what else to be up to. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still have a pint there, but if you’re offering an FTL jump to Omega… well, I’ll meet you at the docking bay in ten minutes, I’ll bring the pre-drinks.
There are loads of good bars in video games, but clubs generally tend to look like the way Martin Garrix songs sound, especially in sci-fi. It’s really nice to hang out in Afterlife for a bit, despite how murdery some of its clientele are, and if you could let me choose a single science-fiction nightclub to hang out in, I’d be at Afterlife before you could even say Omega. I know it’s supposed to be extremely dangerous and all, but come on – you’re telling me you’d miss live music like that? It’s like Massive Attack but from the other side of the galaxy in the distant future. Fortunately, they’ve still got whiskey – the good things in life always have a habit of sticking around.
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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.
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