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Goodbye World (Switch) Review

by Jordan Rudek - November 21, 2022, 12:56 pm EST
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5.5

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye.

The premise of having a game within a game is one that interests me greatly. That Goodbye World leans very deliberately into this device given its two game dev protagonists lends the proceedings an air of authenticity. Unfortunately, the brevity of the story, lackluster presentation, and frustrating and sparse gameplay make for a tough sell.

Goodbye World opens with programmer Kanii trying to solve a conflict in college with an artist whose vision doesn't align with hers. At the same moment, graphics artist Kumade is within earshot and offers to partner with Kanii to work on her game. Across a series of 13 brief vignettes, their story plays out, and at the beginning of each one, you have an opportunity to play a level from the game being developed for what seems an obvious Game Boy stand-in. The story itself can be touching at times, but there isn't much substance to it, and parts of some of the chapters merely consist of dialogue boxes against a black screen.

The game within a game, Blocks, is a 2D puzzle platformer that escalates in difficulty far too abruptly. You control a small dinosaur-like creature who can destroy and create blocks to get over obstacles and eliminate enemies. You can only conjure up as many blocks as you've already taken apart, and time stops whenever you activate the block dropping mechanic. What's unfortunate about the game is that some sections require a fair bit of precision, which is difficult when jumping is mapped to pressing up on the stick. What's even worse is that even a simple mistake near the end of a stage can force you to restart from the beginning, like picking up a block you shouldn't have or jumping off a ledge before you could fully see what lay ahead. Interestingly, while you have three lives to try and finish each level, you don't actually need to do so to advance the story forward; a game over just takes you out of Blocks and back into the lives of Kanii and Kumade.

The eShop listing for Goodbye World is noticeably misleading, which definitely impacted my impression of it. It's billed as a "narrative adventure game," but there's essentially no adventure aspects to speak of. There's no exploration, no decision-making, and very few characters outside of the two protagonists. It's much more of a one or two-hour visual novel with a puzzle-platformer mini-game tucked inside, but it doesn't even have the dialogue choices or routes of other visual novels. I had to push myself to keep going as neither the gameplay or the story really held my attention.

Not being able to control Kanii or Kumade or explore their world at all makes it very difficult to connect with the story of Goodbye World. While its message about the challenges of independent game development is increasingly poignant, the packaging around that theme fails to captivate. The metagame Blocks, on its own, is equally plain, and the feeling I'm left with after rolling credits is largely one of disappointment. In spite of its interesting conceit, parting with Goodbye World isn't really sweet sorrow.

Summary

Pros
  • Interesting premise
  • Poignant message and theme
Cons
  • Lackluster gameplay
  • Mini-game controls and difficulty curve are frustrating
  • No real adventure elements

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Game Profile

Genre Adventure
Developer
Players1

Worldwide Releases

na: Goodbye World
Release Nov 17, 2022
PublisherPM Studios
RatingEveryone

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