Skip to main content

Goodbye Volcano High’s dinosaur drama is more enticing than its rhythm interludes

Teen dramas are all the rage, but society is running out of ideas. How many ways can you spin the same coming of age story? Developer KO_OP has risen to that challenge with its upcoming narrative rhythm game, Goodbye Volcano High, by daring to make something new: a high school dinosaur simulator.

Goodbye Volcano High - Story, Gameplay & Release Date | PS5 & PS4 Games

Goodbye Volcano High ditches your regular old mammals and instead focuses on teenage dinosaurs on the brink of extinction. Fang, a senior with lofty dreams of becoming a musician, has one year to live out their dreams before a meteor threatens life as they knows it. It’s up to the player to choose how they live their last year of high school, whether its smooching their friends or rocking out.

As an absolute fiend for young adult stories, I’m ready to see its story all the way through based on a demo I played at PAX East. It’s a narrative experience that explores growing pains in a unique circumstance that teenage dramas typically steer clear of: the Big Bang. However, limited dialogue options and an iffy rhythm component have me feeling like I’ll have more fun watching than playing it.

Rhythm and blues

Goodbye Volcano High has two main components to its gameplay: decision-making and rhythm game interludes. Any choices you make can impact its ending, according to KO_OP. Later chapters force the player to choose between focusing on Fang’s band, her friends, and other priorities.

Adding a musical element to the game makes sense because of how important Fang’s music is to them. However, Goodbye Volcano High‘s current iteration of the minigame doesn’t quite feel intuitive yet. Many successful rhythm games (or mini-games in existing products) involve pressing buttons at the right times, like in Guitar Hero, simulating beats and rhythms. Most of the satisfaction comes from pressing the keys on beat, to the point that you can listen to the song for the cues without looking at the screen if you’re really locked into the music.

Fang playing bass rhythm game in Goodbye Volcano High

Unfortunately, the controls didn’t quite come together for me during my hands-on time. Musical segments prompted me to hold the control stick in different directions based on clear visual cues, but I needed to time my inputs slightly ahead of when the prompt would actually appear because of lag (it’s unclear if that was an issue with the way the demo was set up or a timing quirk in the game). Some prompts involved timing control stick inputs and button presses at the same time, which felt like the gameplay version of patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time.

If it were a movie

Despite some issues with its controls, the bits of story I saw signaled a promising teen drama. I could believe Goodbye Volcano High would be a Netflix animated series if it weren’t a video game. That’s where I’m left wondering about the final product and how much interactivity makes a difference in the final experience.

KO_OP describes its game as a “playable cartoon” or “interactive movie,” which it pulls off with its fluid, hand-drawn animations and evocative voice acting. Though there was some inconsistency in the acting during my demo, the talent in Goodbye Volcano High adds depth to the characters down to the tone of voice and cadence in their speaking patterns — like the way actual teenagers would talk to each other rather than a rushed voice-over.

Fang, Trish, and Reed playing in Worm Drama band

I’ll give Goodbye Volcano High the benefit of the doubt on its limited dialogue options, as the demo didn’t progress far enough to lean toward a particular ending. I didn’t even get to the realization that the world was ending, only learning that it’s Fang’s last year of high school and they submitted a song for Battle of the Bands that clashed with their band’s original vision. As seen in the trailer, the stakes will eventually rise higher than the lighthearted demo lets on. Though I’m not sure how I’ll feel about it as a video game, that story tease still has me eager to see how it all unfolds. I’m willing to see Fang’s story through to the end (of the world).

Goodbye Volcano High launches on June 15 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC via Steam.

Editors' Recommendations

Jess Reyes
Jessica Reyes is a freelance writer who specializes in anime-centric and trending topics. Her work can be found in Looper…
Nintendo Switch’s weirdest launch game is getting a surprise sequel
Key art for Everybody 1-2-Switch!

Nintendo has quietly announced Everybody 1-2-Switch!, a sequel to one of the oddest launch titles for Nintendo Switch.
1-2-Switch! was a Nintendo Switch launch title that served as a tech demo of sorts for the Joy-Con controllers, with players completing minigames based on direction from actors in live-action clips. It's a very quirky and critically divisive Nintendo Switch game, so it's a bit surprising to see a follow-up. According to the eShop listing for Everybody 1-2-Switch!, this game lets players use their Joy-Cons or smartphones to complete a variety of team-based minigames. And that's about all we've seen or know about this $30 game ahead of its June 30 launch alongside some new pastel Joy-Cons.

Everybody 1-2-Switch!'s announcement was quite unorthodox for Nintendo. It simply tweeted about the game's existence and opened up preorders on the eShop. This all happened with no reveal trailer less than a month before the game's launch. It's unknown why Nintendo's taking this approach instead of including the game in a Nintendo Direct or other major showcase, but a 2022 report from Fanbyte may reveal the answer. According to that report, Everybody 1-2-Switch! tested horribly, and Nintendo worried that the game could "damage the company’s reputation as a great software developer." 
Almost a year after that report, it seems that the game has improved enough to release, or maybe Nintendo is just willing to take the hit after the impressive launch and critical reception of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Either way, this is a weird sequel to a weird Nintendo Switch launch game that's being mutedly marketed so it doesn't elicit much hype. We'll just have to wait and play it for ourselves if we want to know whether Everybody 1-2-Switch! is an enjoyable game or not.
Everybody 1-2-Switch! will be released physically and digitally for Nintendo Switch on June 30.

Read more
How to play Diablo 4 with friends
An adventuring party approaches a dungeon door in Diablo 4.

When you're going up against Lilith and her demonic army in Diablo 4, even a warrior as powerful as yourself could use a hand. While playing with friends has been possible in the series for some time now, it is much more fleshed out in the latest entry. This is an always-online game, meaning you will come across other players naturally as you play, and you have the option to partner up with them. While that's great, you will likely want to play with your friends first and foremost. Here's how you can form your ideal party of champions with friends in Diablo 4.

Read more
How to change your title in Diablo 4
Diablo 4 promotional image of Lillith

Despite creating a custom character, and even giving them a name, in Diablo 4, you are really only referred to as Wanderer during the game itself. Your name does appear to other players, however, as well as something called a Title. These are comprised of two words that add a little flavor and personality to you character. The thing is, even as you unlock more options as you play, the game doesn't give you much of a tutorial in how to customize it. Rather than walk around with your default Title for the entire game, spice things up by learning how to change your Title in Diablo 4,

Read more