When the PS5 was revealed in 2020, it was shown alongside a host of both bigger and smaller games that were scheduled to release for the console. One of the stranger titles was Goodbye, Volcano High. Featuring anthropomorphic dinosaurs and set in high school, the game forces one to draw obvious parallels to other coming-of-age titles such as Life is Strange. But what is Goodbye, Volcano High all about and who are the masterminds behind it? This article will explore exactly that.
What Is KO_OP?
It is best to begin our story by taking a look at the studio behind the game. KO_OP is a Canadian studio that is just as enigmatic as the games it produces. They place a heavy emphasis on equality. Hence, every person earns the same salary. Furthermore, decisions are made as a group, and everyone has equal input. This is vastly different from the usual hierarchical structure of businesses.
In an interview with Vice, workers at KO_OP expressed pleasure with the studio’s structure. Lucie Viatge said that it took her a while to adjust to this. “For a while, I was really afraid to voice any concern or opinion, even though they were encouraging me to, because I thought if they didn’t like what I was gonna say – they would fire me or something!” she said.
The studio specializes in making artistic, eccentric video games. As Community Manager of KO_OP, Marcela Huerta, eloquently states, the studio makes “games with the kind of art you’d hang on your walls, and the kind of music you’d listen to on Spotify”. Past releases from the group include GNOG, a 2017 puzzle game available on PS4, PSVR, Windows and iOS.
Say Hello to Goodbye, Volcano High!
Information on this intriguing title has been minimal, and one would be forgiven for wondering whether there are still plans to release it. It was first introduced to the world in 2020 and appeared along a host of other upcoming games for the PS5. From brief trailers released, it appeared to be a beautifully illustrated game about anthropomorphic dinosaurs in their last year in school. Since then, finding information or an update regarding Goodbye, Volcano High has been difficult.
KO_OP describe it as a “cinematic, choice-based narrative game”. As dinosaur teens attempt to make the best of their final year in high school, they grapple with themes of love and self-discovery. To set the mood, the game makes use of a melancholy soundtrack and atmospheric hand-painted backgrounds.
The protagonist, Fang, is a non-binary dinosaur. They are stuck in a rut and are quite happy with the way things are. However, with the final year of high school comes an opportunity for change. They are faced with the option of either continuing to play life safe, or daring to take risks even if it means they may get hurt.
According to the studio’s post on PlayStation’s blog, their intention with the game is to present a story that resonates with people. It is meant to feel like your favorite television show, except you will be able to control how the story plays out thanks to the branching narratives. Immersiveness will also be enhanced by the DualSense controller which will allow you to feel the pressure of making a difficult decision.
For a myriad of reasons, the game has managed to draw a fair bit of attention to itself on the internet despite the lack of information surrounding it. One of the most interesting things to come of the fascination surrounding the game is Snoot, a fan-made visual novel which parodies Goodbye, Volcano High.
Not all the attention the game drew was positive, however. Some gamers were outraged that Kate Gray, a former Kotaku writer, was involved with the game. She is a controversial figure because her last article on the site featured explicit computer-generated images of under-aged characters from franchises such as Pokémon and Harry Potter. Responding to the controversy, in 2020, Kate apologized and asked fans to trust that Goodbye, Volcano High would be made by a competent team.
So Where Is Goodbye, Volcano High?
Despite the silence, there is evidence that the game is still in development and is on track to be released at some point. KO_OP has opted for a sheltered approach to media and public relations. Their official Discord channel is a small group that requires you to answer a questionnaire before you are granted admission.
If you are looking for an update regarding Goodbye, Volcano High, the best place to search is KO_OP’s newsletter. Here you will find occasional images of hand-painted backgrounds for the game, as well as occasional updates regarding the game’s progress.
From a July 2021 newsletter, KO_OP revealed that they are busy getting their main systems running smoothly and perfecting the UI. There has also been plenty of art and animation that has been implemented.
The studio has faced challenges, however. This includes a narrative reboot, which involved bringing in a new writing team and reworking the game’s narrative direction. There are difficulties associated with this because of existing assets for the game that had to be worked around. Plenty of things changed including Fang’s personality and motivations. Pets were also added to the game, which is a major plus for any animal lovers.
KO_OP has yet to update fans regarding the release date for Goodbye, Volcano High beyond giving a vague window of “2021”. The game is set to release on PS4, PS5 and PC.