Game: Hello Goodboy
Genre: Adventure, Casual, Indie
System: Steam (Windows) (also available on Nintendo Switch)
Developers | Publishers: Freedom Games
Controller Support: Yes
Price: US $14.99 | UK £ 12.79 | EU € 14,99
Release Date: May 25th, 2023
Review code used, with many thanks to Stride PR.
Hello Goodboy is a charming 2023 adventure game by Freedom Games.
In Hello Goodboy, we play as Iko, a boy who has just arrived in the afterlife with no memories and no choice but to rely on Coco, a playful, friendly dog. Coco is our guide during the game; he holds all the answers but still seems as uncertain as Iko feels. Between Iko and Coco, there is a tangible real life-like connection, which allows the game to deal sensibly and delicately with painful topics like loss and death.
At the beginning of the game, Coco wisely remarks that all things in the world must end, so we know this is a final journey that Coco and Iko are embarking on. Our time in the land of Hello Goodboy, Kuruto, is limited by the sand in the Magic Hourglass, and each big decision we make affects it. Ultimately, we have a boss fight, where our win depends on our actions during the game. In one playthrough, we visit two “doors” out of four, summer, spring, autumn, and winter. After the end of the game, the developers have put the option of a “new game+,” which allows us to visit the two doors we’ve missed. There is no order to how we complete the doors. During my first playthrough, I visited summer and winter.
We meet different characters in each room who need our help. Iko and Coco also encounter a mysterious black mass, which clings to broken things and creates an unpleasant and heavy atmosphere. Iko can dispel it by fixing the broken things with his magic toolbox. Another precious item we have in our inventory is a collection of magic drinks Coco gives us in the beginning; they can be used on characters we meet, and what is left can be used during the boss fight to help Coco and weaken the enemy.
The world of Hello Goodboy is colourful and alive, with mundane things happening in the background, like trains running. It is a somewhat cinematic experience, though not quite to the point of an earlier June game, Planet of Lana. Still, the comparison is adept since both games show an incredible dedication to detail. Each of the four Hello Goodboy rooms has its own music theme and sound effects- from bird songs to the crunching of snow between boots and paws.
The soundtrack is complete with two original songs, which are also so lovely. The animations are smooth and life-like. Coco, in particular, has some very life-like dog moves. Allowing Iko to play with Coco is a beautiful addition to the gaming experience.
Art style-like, I am reminded of Studio Ghibli’s works and some of my favorite children’s illustrators. The game is so pretty that many of the screenshots I took for this review I will use as wallpapers for the coming months.
The game is far from difficult; it is almost too easy, but I feel that was the right direction. It feels cozy and relaxing without the added frustration of doing a level repeatedly. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it feels like a visual novel, but it is close.
The Steam version of the game has achievements activated but no trading cards yet. Another thing to note is that they keep patching it up, although I haven’t had any issues with it.
Hello Goodboy shows a remarkable sensitivity to a painful topic from the beginning by warning the players that while the story is light-hearted, it can still be painful to someone who has lost a precious person. In that matter, it heavily reminds me of Spiritfarer (2020). Hello Goodboy is a memorable cozy gaming experience that is definitely worth trying out.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot.