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Adios Review: So Long, and Thanks for All the Meat (PC)

Step into the shoes of a pig farmer who’s grown weary of disposing of bodies for the mob in this sombre and moving tale of choice, regret and trying to do the right thing. This is a story that doesn’t pull its punches, so prepare to feel some feelings.

Adios Review: So Long, and Thanks for All the Meat (PC)

Adios is a short but powerful game from Mischief in which you play a nameless pig farmer in the American Midwest who has, for several years now, been disposing of bodies for the mob. One autumn day, you work up the courage to tell your contact and friend, the hitman, that you’ve had enough and you want out. But things are never quite that easy, are they?

Adios is available now on Steam and Xbox.

Adios - Final Trailer

Story – One Way Out

You start the game on a crisp morning in 1992 as your hitman friend and his associate turn into your drive to feed another body to the pigs. After confessing that you don’t want to do this any more, your friend offers to accompany you on your chores around the farm for the day to try and change your mind. You spend the day pottering around shovelling shit, milking goats, and chatting about family, loss, life, and death, all the while skirting around the topic of what ‘leaving the business’ really means.

As a narrative-focused game, Adios has a lot riding on the quality of its writing and its voice acting, and it doesn’t disappoint. Creative lead and narrative designer Doc Burford is on top form here, weaving a story that packs a substantial emotional punch even when you feel like you know what’s going to happen. Small details about the characters are gradually and naturally revealed over the course of the conversations, with each minor revelation about your farmer’s history as a Vietnam veteran or his strained relationship with his son adding depth to his character without being clumsily expositional.

Strong pun game right here.

Strong pun game right here.

One memorable experience early on uses the farmer’s fondness for restoring vintage soda machines as a catalyst for a discussion about grief. As you optionally pass a can of Root Bear (‘Un-bear-ably good root beer!’) to your companion, the conversation shifts quietly from musing on the nature of hobbies towards a moment of reflection for your departed wife Sadie, and how you approach dealing with grief: ‘This is how I grieve, this right here. When I got a problem, I fix it. And when I fix it, I fix a little part of me.’

Adios is full of moments like this, and they’re all masterfully delivered by the game’s small but immensely talented voice cast. Rick Zieff and D.C. Douglas have the most screentime, voicing the farmer and the hitman respectively, and there’s a real sense of chemistry between the two in their readings of Burford’s lines that is a joy to listen to. The pair of them do a masterful job throughout the game of creating a strangely paradoxical atmosphere of bucolic peacefulness and slightly strained tension, as the farmer stands unwavering in his choice and the hitman comes to realise that he’s going to have to follow through himself.

There's a sense of regret but inescapability to the hitman's words.

There’s a sense of regret but inescapability to the hitman’s words.

Gameplay – Walking the Walk, Talking the Talk

The gameplay in Adios is, broadly speaking, secondary to the story. Over the course of the two hours or so you’ll spend in the farmer’s boots, you’ll primarily be walking from objective to objective to start a selection of conversational vignettes, each of which opens with a screen-filling scene name like ‘The Confession’ or ‘The Goat’. Occasionally you’ll perform some context-sensitive action or another or engage in a short minigame-esque piece of interactivity like fishing (the hallmark of any truly great game), skeet shooting or a game of horseshoes. From time to time you’ll also pick dialogue choices as you converse with the hitman or one of the other characters.

Not everything in the environment is interactable – it’s a small team behind this game, after all – but the things that are seem pretty carefully chosen. Early on I discovered a room upstairs belonging to someone called ‘Bill’ that had a selection of vinyl records and tapes that you can actually put in their respective player and have a listen to, which provided a moment’s amusement before returning to my tasks.

Those goats aren't gonna milk themselves.

Those goats aren’t gonna milk themselves.

Later on, after a very difficult phone call with Bill, who turned out to be the farmer’s estranged son, I returned to the room and listened to the melancholic piano music on every record and tape while staring wistfully out the window, considering the conversation I’d just had and contemplating what was yet to come. It was a sad and poignant moment for me as a player, and nothing on the critical path had pointed me that way: it was just there, waiting to be discovered and pieced together.

The two phone conversations are the perfect exemplar of a way in which Adios really turns its otherwise fairly mundane gameplay into a strength. By the point in the game where you’re making calls, you already have a sense of how things are going to end and what might be going through the farmer’s mind.

As you struggle through a conversation with your son about the fate of his mother, greyed-out dialogue options spring up indicating pained admissions and explanations, but clicking on them merely has you grunt as the text fades away, always leaving you with nothing to say but an evasive or inadequate response. You end up getting a brief but powerful look into your own head as the farmer considers the things he wishes he could say to the people he loves but ultimately cannot.

The greyed-out options give you an idea of things left unsaid.

The greyed-out options give you an idea of things left unsaid.

This way that the game plays with the idea of choice is just one way that Adios leans away from a more conventional approach to player-led stories and power fantasies. Even as you wander around your farm, deciding which task to do next and chatting with the hitman, there’s a sense that you’re merely observing the final stages of someone else’s story unfold, rather than directly influencing them yourself, but at the same time you are inhabiting this man’s body and mind as he goes through it, feeling the emotional gut punch of every realisation. Even in this review, I’ve found myself switching between using ‘you’ and ‘the farmer’ because at the end of the day, even though it isn’t ‘your story’, it’ll feel like it was.

Almost all of the game’s conversation options and other choices end up leading to similar or identical outcomes, and end up fairly inconsequential as the main arc of the story moves inexorably forward. The farmer made his choice before you ever landed in his shoes, and he intends to stick to it. It doesn’t feel stifling, though: when the story is this meticulously crafted and hits the emotional beats just so to send a dagger through your heart at the right moment, the restriction of player choice just reinforces the themes at play.

Sometimes sticking to your guns is the hardest choice - others, it's not even a choice at all.

Sometimes sticking to your guns is the hardest choice – others, it’s not even a choice at all.

Not every game is about busting out of a tough situation, nor should it be. Sometimes it’s about having a realisation and trying your best to make amends however you can before it’s too late. Maybe you’ll succeed, maybe you’ll fail, but the choice is not always in your hands. Sometimes it was made long before you ever arrived on the scene.

Graphics and Audio – Rustic Ambience

The environments of Adios are nice enough – to be sure, there are better-looking games available out there, but they do a great job at giving you that sense of space in the great outdoors as you wander from objective to objective. The water on the lake, with its gentle ripples and the reflections of the trees on the bank, is particularly pleasant to look at.

The characters’ visual design is stylised and works pretty well – the models are fairly basic and occasionally look a little goofy but are still surprisingly expressive. I encountered a few bugs in my playthrough that saw some things clipping through walls and in one case necessitated a scene restart, but the team is working overtime to patch whatever gets flagged up so those will hopefully be fixed pretty soon. It would have been nice to see a few extra or more polished animations – the scene in the garage had its moments of dissonance as the hitman just stood staring at the engine instead of properly rooting around in there, for example – but again, considering the small team size the results are more than adequate.

The sound design is excellent – the voice acting, again, is superb, but the foley work for a lot of the simple actions like walking, picking things up and opening doors is also immensely satisfying. There’s no background music to speak of but its absence adds to the pervasive sense of loneliness and melancholy as you progress through the game, and makes the moments where that quiet is broken, whether by conversation, the creak of a door or the scratch of a record player’s needle, all the more effective.

Adios was reviewed on PC.

Adios is a quietly emotional little game that will draw you in with a narrative that’s compelling and heartbreaking in equal measure. If walking sims aren’t your usual cup of tea then you might not immediately click with it, but if you’re willing to give the excellent writing and award-worthy voice acting the scant couple of hours it demands of you, it might just surprise you. And even if not, you’ll learn some cool things about American chestnut trees, so there’s that!
  • Superb and emotional writing
  • Brilliant voice-acting
  • A peaceful atmosphere, despite the heavy subject matter
  • Graphics aren't going to blow you away
  • Still a couple of bugs here and there

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