Goodbye Volcano High – PS5 Review

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Cast your minds back, all the way to mid-2020. Sony unveiled the PlayStation 5 with a showcase featuring 25 games. Since then, 22 games have come and gone leaving just 3 remaining, until now. Goodbye Volcano High finally reached us on 29th August 2023. Was it worth the wait?

Developed and published by Canadian team KO_OP, who’ve previously worked on GNOG (2017) and Winding Worlds (2020), this represents a foray into heavily story based content. I’ve been waiting on this for a while with the hopes it will fill the current Life is Strange shaped hole in my heart.

Dilemmas & Dinosaurs

I can’t believe it’s already been a year since Love. Pop. Panic! (formerly We Are OFK) released, and I’m glad to have another mix of narrative and musical elements to sink into.


Goodbye Volcano High is a story-driven, choice-based cinematic adventure, focusing primarily on the life of the main character Fang in the lead-up to the end of the world. We’ll be getting to know them and their closest friends as they battle to deal with coming to terms with the inevitability of their situation.

The story opens with a flash forward. A group of dinosaurs gathered around a campfire on a beach at night, the mood is sombre. After some short, vague dialogue from the group the player is presented with a choice; let go or hold on. It’s a difficult choice to make, especially with so little info to go on, the ramifications unknown. This does however adequately set the stage for the rest of the game.

Fangs hands hold a Volcano High yearbook above a campfire. "Goodbye" has been graffitied above the name of the school and a sticker with the text "The End" has been stuck over the school year. In the background we can see others gathered around the campfire.The UI displays a choice to the user, let go or hold on. The player is in the process of selecting 'let go' but needs to press the L2 and R2 buttons to confirm.
A seemingly weighty choice to start the game.

As I played through I often found myself torn between dialogue options, more so than in almost any other choice-based narrative game I’ve experienced. This indecisiveness is brilliantly translated with in-game mechanics too, with dialogue options shifting, swapping places and requiring further effort to choose – represented by needing to press R2+L2. When playing on PS5 the adaptive triggers will resist being pressed down for these choices (for those with accessibility requirements this can be turned off). In one case, where the decision would have been difficult whatever the options, the usual 3/4 choices are replaced by over a dozen!

Worm Drama

We meet Fang as they are getting ready to start their senior year in high school. They’ve been feeling isolated and stuck at home over the summer vacation which has them feeling frustrated but excited to join back up with their friends and their bandmates. Fang has also been able to secure an audition for the band, Worm Drama, to enter Battle of the Bands with a chance to perform at a huge concert as the prize.

Tensions arise as Trish, a bandmate, focuses on her new hobby and potential career, rather than the band. This is exacerbated when the news reports a newly found asteroid that may be on a collision course with Earth, throwing everyone’s priorities out of whack. The drama builds from here as Fang and the others have to balance the possibility of the end of the world, alongside all the usual stresses that come with being a teenager and planning a future after school.

A group of anthropmorphic bi-pedal dinosaurs stand around a campfire on a beach at night. The moonlight is reflected in the water behind them. A pizza box, case of beer and scattered beer cans can be seen among and around the figures
A moment of deep contemplation.

Goodbye Volcano High has a great set of relatable characters in which most people will be able to find something of themselves.

I emphasised most with Fang over their frustration of feeling like they no longer share their enthusiasm for their hobbies with their friends. I remember after school, growing apart from friends in terms of what we put most of our time and effort into and those things no longer being aligned. It’s a difficult part of life, not even considering adding in an apocalypse and the struggles trans people can face with gaining acceptance from family – which Fang also has to contend with.

Banding, Together

Stepping aside from the story and choice-based mechanics, Goodbye Volcano High also includes several rhythm-based musical QTE sections. These are comprised of 3 distinct actions that you need to perform in time with various musical numbers alongside Fang or Worm Drama. Firstly, there are button presses where time timing is based on a shrinking circle meeting the on-screen prompt. Secondly, big drum hits are simulated by pushing both analogue sticks downwards simultaneously when a set of arrows meet. Finally, the right analogue stick is used to catch circles flying in from both sides of the screen and from the top.

Fang shown playing the guitar and singing. The UI shows the current actions the user needs to perform to continue 'playing' the song. A circle is shrinking around a prompt for the X button and the ananlogue stick needs to be held in the 'up' position to catch 2 incoming beats.
They are a guitar hero to me.

Whilst all that may sound fairly simple there is a challenge to keeping an eye on everything. I’m torn with how I feel about these musical interludes. On one hand, the music was great; it fits in perfectly with the overall vibes. I especially liked that you have a hand in writing the songs. However, I often found myself concentrating so hard on the QTEs that my brain zoned out the music and the background visuals. I felt this most keenly towards the end of the game where a montage plays as you jam out the song. The emotional impact of that moment felt lost on me as I couldn’t focus on both things at once.

Overall though, the music mini-games add a much-needed interactivity beyond the decision-making and help to break up the story-heavy moments.


The final inclusion to the gameplay I’d like to talk about is the D&D-inspired in-game game, Legends & Lore. At certain points in the story, Fang and others will take part in gaming sessions where they play this TTRPG (Table Top Role Playing Game). To briefly summarise, in a TTRPG players take on the role of a character of their creation, taking part in a story directed by a Game Master. Each character has certain abilities and traits based on their race and job and actions taken in the game have their outcomes somewhat affected by a roll of a real-world die – usually a 20-sided die (a D20).

For the most part, the mechanics for us the player are the same as they are in the story sections of the game. We choose dialogue options that advance the story and provide decisions for the L&L characters. The addition to this is a dice rolling mechanic, which seems to be fully randomised like a real roll would be. Having this randomness included here, along with a couple of binary choices in the L&L story, presents good replay value. I’m interested to see what the other choices lead to and what effects failing rolls would have.

Graphics & Audio

Goodbye Volcano High makes such fantastic use of colours, especially with its cast of dinosaur characters both main and periphery. In the scenes where there are a lot of characters visible, such as the assembly shown in the screenshot below, it is easy to appreciate how much diversity the artists have been able to create.

A theatre hall viewed from the back row looking forward to the stage. In the packed rows of seats many brightly coloured anthropomorphic dinosaurs can be seen. They are all distinctly difference, demonstrating the effort artists have put in to create such a rich cast of characters.
Such a colourful array in this abundant congregation of dino-friends.

The artwork and animations throughout the game are fantastic and at times it was easy to forget I wasn’t watching an animated show rather than playing a game. Beyond the character diversity, the environments are another highlight of the visual presentation, often having great depth, detail and lighting.

Whilst there were minor glitches here and there with lip-synching and screen transitions, the team were aware and has since released a patch to fix many of those problems.


Dabu is the artist behind the music, both the scoring in the game and Worm Drama’s songs. I’m not very good with categorising music into genres, but I’d say the feel is, perhaps unsurprisingly, indie pop-rock. The songs that make up the mini-game sections a particular highlights, with Brigitte Naggar performing Fang’s vocals. My personal favourite is Don’t Call but I feel like all the songs fit with the vibes of the game flawlessly. A couple of the tracks will definitely feature in my rotation for a while.

Fang, stood on stage with their guitar, facing away from camera toward the crowd. A midi-pad is on a stand to Fang's right.The room is dark, we can just make out faces and bodies in the crowd. Some members of the crowd have their phones held aloft with the flashlights on.
Nothing but vibes.


Games that rely on player choices to somewhat shape the events of the story inherently come bundled with some replayability by default and that’s the case here. Throughout the story, as you interact with Fang’s friends you’ll develop their relationships in various amounts. This is represented in the game in an orbit-like display with Fang at the centre. The closer and stronger a relationship is, the closer the friend will be to the centre. Stronger relationships lead to different scenes and content involving those characters, and different pictures can be unlocked as a reward.

Although your choices in the story largely don’t affect the outcome, there are still reasons to go through the game additional times. Achievement/Trophy hunters will need at least 2 playthroughs, possibly more. At the time of writing the trophy system on the PS5 version is pretty broken, meaning only a handful of trophies may unlock during your playtime. The devs are aware of this and working on patching it.

My playthrough took about 5 hours all said and done. I’d love there to be more time to explore some of the friendships more and dive deeper into the end-of-the-world scenario, but at the same time didn’t feel robbed of a strong story.

Final Thoughts

Goodbye Volcano High is a worthy addition to the visual narrative genre. The whole team at KO_OP have clearly put their hearts into this game over several years and it shows. The writing is emotional and relatable, I especially loved how quickly the news of impending doom turned into memes and jokes all over the internet; very realistic. The artwork is vibrant, colourful and detailed, brought together brilliantly with the animation. Over in the music department, the soundtrack is solid and suits the game perfectly.

Fang, stood in their room looking at their phone.The UI displays various social media posts, representing the content Fang is looking at on the phone. Some of the posts are: "Help, my horoscope literally told me I was running out of time", "Can the meteor hurry it up and hit next week, I have a test on Monday morning", "I have a cousin who works at an aerospace company and they're saying the chances are a LOT higher than journalists are telling us...", "Fuck it, time for the purge", "WTF this thing better not hit I can't die a virgin", "Wonder if anybody in charge will actually y'know do something about this???" and "If I die when this thing hits then that mean I literally peaked in high school.".
You can’t tell me this isn’t precisely how social media would look if an asteroid strike was announced today.

There’s a lot that I haven’t mentioned to avoid giving any spoilers. Emotional payoffs towards the end of the game certainly hit, such was my investment in the story and characters, but you’ll need to play to find out what those are. If you enjoy other similar games such as Life is Strange and We Are OFK then you should feel confident diving into this.

Once the last of the bugs are cleaned up in patches and the trophy system is fixed up on PS5 I’ll be diving back in to make sure I see everything on offer. Goodbye Volcano High receives a Thumb Culture Platinum Award.

Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.

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