How To Say Goodbye assessment: a comfy, compassionate puzzle game about dying

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How To Say Goodbye begins with somebody dying. It’s not stunning or distressing; fairly the alternative. The particular person died in a hospital mattress surrounded by their closest family and friends, and after they’ve handed on the group begins to share tales and reminiscences from once they have been alive. Death isn’t all the time this calm and it isn’t all the time this peaceable, however on uncommon events it may be.

This is how builders Florian Veltman and Baptiste Portefaix have approached dying in How To Say Goodbye, a comfy game that explores the subject with kindness and sensitivity. With its paper doll illustrations and pastel color palette, it kinda looks like a youngsters’s pop-up guide that teaches youngsters about grief. It’s not overly candy or patronising, only a mild game a few group of ghosts who uncover find out how to mourn, find out how to settle for their very own dying, and find out how to transfer on.

It sounds somber, however I promise it’s not! How To Say Goodbye is greater than two-and-a-bit hours of grief counselling. It’s humorous, goofy, and fairly optimistic about all of the dying stuff. The story follows a gaggle of ghosts who’re caught in a liminal in-between area of life and dying. Each ghost is in search of a option to attain the ‘different aspect’ and there’s additionally a Wizard who’s an entire jerk making an attempt to cease them.

Each puzzle duties you with transferring your ghost cohort from one aspect of an surroundings to the opposite, normally choosing up keys and standing on buttons to unlock doorways and passages as you go. You do that by clicking and dragging the tiles across the characters in a form of conveyor belt system that has horizontal and vertical motion.

How To Say Goodbye is greater than two-and-a-bit hours of grief counselling. It’s humorous, goofy, and fairly optimistic about all of the dying stuff

It’s a neat thought, and puzzles are by no means something greater than breezy mind ticklers at most, however the controls are tremendous finicky. Moving the grid will be extremely clunky, and with the extra complicated puzzles that require precision, it utterly pulled me out of the game. I believe gradual and regular is the important thing right here, as once I tried to be extra delicate with my tile actions it was a lot smoother. I nonetheless suppose this grid system is nice, even with the small hiccups – simply do not deal with it such as you’re making an attempt to smash a Rubik’s Cube world file, otherwise you actually will really feel such as you’re caught in purgatory.

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The grid system is not only a cool puzzle system, although; it additionally ties in nicely with the story. Something that is attention-grabbing about How To Say Goodbye is that you just’re circuitously controlling the characters, simply transferring the world round them to create one of the simplest ways ahead. There are components of the story when characters can have moments of weak spot, feeling like they’re caught or won’t ever escape this in-between world. In these story moments you are there to silently, and gently, ferry them alongside. You’re fairly actually serving to these characters transfer on with out having direct management over them. It’s a candy sentiment.

Moving the grid slowly made points nearly disappear, however when a strike of puzzle-solving inspiration hit I wasn’t in a position to shortly perform what I wished.

As you journey via How To Say Goodbye’s peaceable limbo, you’ll meet a bunch of ghost friends. Some will be part of your group, in search of their very own option to move, and others are simply hanging out and prepared to talk. It’s extremely charming that they are all simply the basic white bedsheet Halloween ghost, however with completely different facial options. It’s price stopping and having a natter with them as all of them have completely different views on their present scenario. One ghost is fortunately having fun with the peace of this in-between place, one other is sitting down quietly considering what they’ve left behind, and there is one who’s frightened that they left the iron plugged in earlier than passing.

It’s all fairly light-hearted, so you will not discover any gut-punch story beats right here. The most sombre it will get is that ghosts who’ve misplaced their will to maneuver on flip into spleens, moaning phantoms that may sprout up from the bottom and act as obstacles in later ranges. Turning right into a spleen is way from superb, so the plan for our ghost friends is to seek out peace (no matter which means to them personally) and transfer on to what comes subsequent. How To Say Goodbye doesn’t ponder on what that’s, you’re tethered to this elusive center airplane and this airplane solely.

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Spleens take up room on the grid-board which means much less area to maneuver your characters round.

I name it a center airplane, however environmentally it’s not what you anticipate in any respect from limbo. Chapters happen in quite a lot of vibrant areas like a frozen forest the place you should trudge via snow, a bustling airport with consistently transferring conveyor belts, there is a secret laboratory with bizarre tubes and pipes, and our ghost friends even make a visit to the superbly eerie floor of the moon. It’s an exquisite mixture of 2D characters with 3D environments, and it is enjoyable in the way in which they work together. Levels can have big objects scattered about that you could make characters stumble upon, like brushing away some crispy leaves or bouncing a spikey inexperienced conker shell out of your approach.

A favorite stage of mine is one the place the ghosts have been shrunk right down to the scale of a thimble and need to navigate a kitchen countertop, with egg cartridges, cups, and kitchen utensils haphazardly strewn in every single place. There’s a second when you possibly can hear a pot of water effervescent on a hob, accompanied by bits of raw macaroni that satisfyingly clatter throughout the countertop as you contact them. I might by no means pay a lot consideration to those ambient sounds normally, however in How To Say Goodbye they’re given an exquisite highlight within the soundscape. It makes all of it really feel extremely cozy and homey.

Right within the feels. Thanks buddy.

Death and loss have an effect on us all in numerous methods so I believe everybody will get one thing completely different from enjoying How To Say Goodbye. I personally gravitated extra towards the lack of life’s little moments, like discovering a wonderfully shiny conker after eradicating its spikey shell, the quiet ambiance of an airport while you’re ready on your flight, hanging out with individuals who’ll allow you to bang on about your bizarre hobbies, or the sound of a effervescent pasta pot. The ghosts wandering this ‘different aspect’ need to grapple with the actual fact they’re now useless, but additionally that they’ve misplaced these little pockets of pleasure from once they have been alive.

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How To Say Goodbye doesn’t attempt to make grand statements about life and dying. You get out of it what you want. It’s a brief, cozy journey about how dying sucks, and the way shedding folks sucks, and the way grief sucks. And I admire that straightforward sentiment.

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