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Goodbye Volcano High Review: A Clear Labor Of Love

  • Hypnotic original songs
  • LGBTQ+ forward themes and story
  • L&L is a fun parody of D&D
  • Lovely hand-drawn animation
  • Has a 95% chance of making you cry

A PC code was provided to SVG for this review. "Goodbye Volcano High" is available now for PC, PS4, and PS5.

Through the ups and downs, and the end of the world, "Goodbye Volcano High" proves we can handle anything as long as we are with our friends. This game is so much more than the usual choice-based, story-heavy, cinematic adventure. It brings mini games, a whole D&D parody, fully voice-acted characters, amazing music, and heart wrenching stories that will resonate with everyone.


Taking control of Fang, you must navigate between tough decisions that will impact your family, friends, love life, and even your band. Senior year of high school isn't the only problem that Fang and their friends will face throughout the eight chapters.

There are so many things to love about this game and the fact that it can resonate with so many people on different levels is just part of its charm. There is no doubt that this game was a labor of love from the team at KO_OP; that passion shining through with how well this game is designed.

Truly part of the band

This whole game is a great way to showcase how developers can add so much more into novel style games that go beyond just player choice. Within seconds of starting the game, you are thrust into helping choose lyrics for a song which is followed by a "Guitar Hero"-style mini game. This will occur throughout the game as your band plays. The only real issue is that there isn't enough of it.


The reason this running concept throughout the game is so exhilarating is due to a few factors. First, it's not super easy. There is some progression as the story goes along, so it won't throw you to the wolves at the first song. However, there will be times where you feel the pressure as songs pick up in intensity. Keeping up with the different patterns is thrilling, it's also plenty nerve-wracking.

The way this element is woven throughout the story adds even more pressure. For example, a big component of the story is winning Battle of the Bands. That excitement to win mixed with the rich story that builds up the hype helps pull you in for those fleeting moments of playing.

The biggest reason that this part of game play hits so hard comes down to the music — the haunting, hypnotic music that fuels the teenage angst and impending struggles we have all faced in life. Composed by Dabu, featuring local Montreal musician Brigitte Naggar, these songs are worth listening to over and over again. 


Hits you in the feels

Narratively, there was no reason for KO_OP to go this hard in the game, but you will be so thankful they did. "Goodbye Volcano High" centers a lot of its time around high school and coming of age problems. Take, for example, the struggle to figure out what you want to do after school or how to help manage new friendships with your old friends. These problems are extremely easy to relate to because we all have been there.


However, what happens when you take those simple problems and place them with the idea that the world is ending? That nothing you do matters or the hopes you once had are now never going to come true. It gets dark really fast, but that is part of the magic that makes this game so good.

Many cinematic novels are a one-time play through, and even if you never play this one again, the impact it has will stay with you. This is largely due to the memorable, bigger than life characters that cover a wide range of different personalities and people. This is a queer-centered game with the lead being non-binary, as well as another character being trans and openly discussing how it impacts them. In an industry where there are few games with openly queer representation, it's important to showcase these storylines — not only to shine a light on them, but to do so in a way that doesn't feel forced or stereotypical. 


"Goodbye Volcano High" has a character for everyone to see themselves in, and that in itself really adds to the game. Plus, it is the exact reason that you end up feeling every high and low as if you were part of the group from the start.

Small choices with big impacts

There are a lot of great decisions that went into this game that might seem small but have big impacts. For starters, the timer on choices keeps the pace while keeping you on your toes. It also adds to the weight that these decisions hold. In life, we occasionally make hasty decisions and have to deal with the consequences that follow, which is why choice-driven games are more effective with timed options.


On top of that, the ways that choices are presented are wonderfully unique. For example, the first choice you make requires you to click a few times, while your vision becomes blurry from tears. It's clear this is a tough, emotional decision for the character to make. On the opposite end, happier choices have an effect similar to glitter or stars, while choices fueled by anger or rage might have flames.

All of the decisions that went into the style of the game only elevates "Goodbye Volcano High's" story and the playing experience. Add that to the beautifully crafted narrative, the thrill of playing the guitar mini-game, and the relatable characters, and you have a title is set up to be one of the top games this year for its genre.