Some games trigger an internal battle for me: one side arguing that it’s easy to judge a game’s merits by a few key factors whilst the other pushes me to try something even if my initial read doesn’t leave me feeling positive about it. Goodbye Volcano High was like this, it’s choice of using anthropomorphic dinosaurs making me think it’d be more style than substance. I’ll admit that it took me a while to get into it but once I got past those initial reservations what I saw was a very competent visual novel that deals with some hard subjects that are rarely done well.

It’s Fang’s last year of school and their dream of taking their band on tour is just within grasp. They’ve spent their final summer holidays working on new music, eager to meet back up with their bandmates and start working hard on making their dream become a reality. However the others have spent their time on other pursuits, the impending end of their school lives forcing them to consider what they want to do once their education has finished. In the background of all of this is the threat of global annihilation: a meteor is heading towards their planet, although there’s every chance it won’t do anything at all. What follows is the story of Fang as they work their way through this final year of school, navigating a tumultuous time of growth, change and dealing with the idea that everything could be meaningless in the end.

The art of Goodbye Volcano High will be familiar to those who lost countless hours on Flash games of yesteryear. It’s certainly a modern take on the style, blending in modern lighting effects, depth of field and other embellishments brought to you by the Unity engine. Some of the UI elements are a little rough around the edges, something which I will attribute to me playing this on PC with a mouse and keyboard when it seems like this game was more intended to be a console/controller experience. Negating that though it’s certainly well crafted in all other respects, something you’d expect from a decade plus development house.

It was interesting to read that Goodbye Volcano High started out as a dating sim before they changed tack as they built out the story more. Now it’s a more traditional visual novel, giving you various dialogue options to influence the main story in one direction or another. There are some quick time events scattered throughout as well, but doing them perfectly or not has no influence on how the story progresses, just your achievement score. The game is broken up into sections that all play for about an hour each, making it an easy game to pick up and put down once you hit a chapter break.


I found Fang very hard to relate to for the first couple hours of the game as it felt like she was just blind to her friends emotional needs and desires. Of course I can relate to the idea of wanting to pursue something to the exclusion of all else, especially with that late-teenager know-it-all energy, but even making choices to push them towards empathy didn’t really seem to move the needle at all. As more of their background is revealed you can start to understand why this might be, but it took a lot of time for me to get there.

Reading up on the character development I can see the remnants of what Fang’s personality was going to be in the dating sim version (gruff, standoffish, frustrated) in the final game. I always find those characters hard to relate to when I don’t have any other shared background with them. I’ll also note that I didn’t clock Fang as non-binary for a good long while, not until the scene where the parents dead-named them and they started talking about presenting as more masc. I’m not sure if moving those things forward in the narrative would’ve helped with my early frustrations though.

Where the game shines though is in the development of all the main and secondary characters, all of whom go through a noticeable amount of growth over the course of the story. Fang recognises that not everyone will share the same dream as them, Trish learns the importance of communication and Reed overcomes his nihilism to appreciate the world for what it is even if whatever he does ends up being meaningless. Those last few hours are filled with relatable moments about taking the next big step in life, the one where you’re ostensibly an adult who’s in charge of their life now.

I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the ending to begin with, feeling that leaving it ambiguous didn’t give me the resolution I was looking for. I think that was partly driven by wanting more from the world at that point, my emotional investment with the characters only just beginning to pay off after almost 6 hours. However over time I’ve come to appreciate it for what it was: either it’s a great way to cap it off as a standalone narrative or, should the developers feel there’s more to explore in this world, an easy opening for them to continue it. Either way, there’s a resolution there, and I can be happy with that.


Goodbye Volcano High might not have been the easiest game to get into but it surprised me with its depth of character development, ability to influence the story and a resolution that I’m happy with no matter what the “real” ending was. There’s a few minor rough edges both from a narrative and craftsmanship perspective, but nothing I’d consider dire to the overall experience. Should the developers decide to revisit this IP I’ll be one of the many who’ll be right there to see where they take it as Goodbye Volcano High goes down as one of the better surprises of 2023 for me.

Rating: 8.5/10

Goodbye Volcano High is available on PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 right now for $43.95. Game was played on the PC with a total play time was 5.9 hours with 48% of the achievements unlocked.

About the Author

David Klemke

David is an avid gamer and technology enthusiast in Australia. He got his first taste for both of those passions when his father, a radio engineer from the University of Melbourne, gave him an old DOS box to play games on.

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