Unfortunately, as I understand it, After Effects files are encoded in binary format and cannot be opened in a text editor to rescue useful information from corrupted files that way.
However, there are still 1 tricks (with 2 variations) that can be used before we resign ourselves to despair.
import the corrupted project into a new, empty After Effects project
if the import doesn’t work, try the same thing as the above, but before you import the corrupted project, hit the CapsLock key first. This prevents the viewport from updating and trying to evaluate whatever is in the incoming corrupted file when trying to import it.
If any of the above works, save that new project as a different name, and delete the corrupted components, and keep the portions that can still be used.
Here’s a final recommendation to minimize future data loss, enable incremental save by going to edit -> preferences -> auto-save, and turn on “automatically save projects”.
And increment your file saves frequently!
All the best with the recovery!