“In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
Hello Goodboy is a wholesome, non-linear adventure game about a lost soul and a dog who must embark on an exciting trek through the afterlife together. There they must perform acts of kindness, repair things and help others in order to mend the mistakes of a forgotten past life.
Developer: Rolling Glory Jam
Released: 25th May 2023
Price: £11.99 – £12.79
At the start of Hello Goodboy, the young protagonist cannot remember their name, so a mysterious dog named Coco decides to call them Iko. They then embark on an exciting adventure through the afterlife together beginning in the Hallway of Kuruto, wherein four doors, each representing a different season, can be found. Behind each door, there is a new area that has been tainted with Blacquid, a dark substance that brings sadness and discomfort, quashing joy. The game’s narrative loosely deals with the afterlife and regret and there are themes of overcoming depression and the relationship between despair and happiness. Despite lightly touching on some darker subject matter, it has a wholesome and uplifting feel overall and remains family-friendly.
The game’s dialogue is a highlight of the experience and is generally upbeat and reassuring, especially conversations with Coco. It is also possible to interact with Coco at almost any time, eventually, players will be able to hug Coco, give him belly rubs or ear rubs, give him a high five or take a rest with the canine companion. There are also some fun and engaging chats to be had with Kuruto’s various other inhabitants, all of which are interesting and individual characters with their own stories and desires. The dialogue choices are somewhat superficial but add a nice level of interactivity. However, there are choices to be made regarding what to fix and who to help and there is also one very important decision to be made behind each door.
Hello Goodboy sees the player guide Iko and Coco on their adventures into the seasonally themed doors where they must fix and tidy things until the blacquid is gone from each area. They do this with a magic toolbox that allows them to use different tools with no skill! These work like mini-games and add an extra element of fun and interactivity, In addition, Iko carries a journal in which the pair’s story is recorded and a magic hourglass. The latter sees time pass when an important decision is made limiting the pertinent choices that Iko can make and meaning that players can only enter two doors during each playthrough.
There are also a number of quests available in each area and plenty of NPCs to help out. Tasks range from helping a porcupine get a hug to assisting a lumberjack gather wood for the winter. To help with some tasks, Coco’s sniffing power can be used to track people or creatures or to help work out how to fix things! Recurring characters, Hen and Goose offer more traditional puzzles such as rearranging seeds or connecting tangled wires and can be found behind each of the four doors. Completing an area will earn Iko an emblem for that season.
Doing good deeds will earn Iko Joypieces which are collected in a jar of joy and are utilised during each playthrough’s dramatic climax. At the beginning of the game, Iko receives a number of drinks, they can be used to help different characters throughout the adventure but can also come in handy towards the end of the experience along with the aforementioned emblems. The gameplay progresses and culminates in tandem with the narrative and themes, with the different aspects working together to make a really comprehensive and emotional experience.
The first playthrough will take around two hours and once completed, new game plus will unlock. The drinks return to Iko’s inventory and the hourglass is refilled allowing the player to accompany Iko and Coco through the two previously unentered doorways and reach the game’s true ending. It is also possible to continue playing after this and make different decisions, seeing all possible endings for each season/door.
Hello Goodboy uses an illustrative art style reminiscent of children’s books. The characters have harsher outlines and a slightly cartoonish feel while the backgrounds and cut-scene images are more painterly. The colour palettes vary depending on location and season and the mix of vibrant and muted colours works well to bring the different settings to life. The visuals match the cute and wholesome tone of the game and complement the narrative perfectly.
The music is varied and ranges from relaxing and serene to upbeat and even dramatic, consisting of such sounds as piano, woodwind and ethereal droning to create a mesmerising and emotive overall effect. Ambient sound effects such as birds, the weather or a crackling fire help immerse the player in the experience and accentuate the charming visuals.
Hello Goodboy is a fantastically wholesome and very relaxing adventure game with a lot to offer including a heap of replayability. It has varied and engaging gameplay featuring repairing mini-games and satisfying puzzles, a well-written narrative with darker elements and a dramatic crescendo to contrast the dominant uplifting feel of the experience. The visuals are stunning, and the cute and nostalgic style works perfectly with the endearing story and emotive soundtrack. Overall, this is an emotional, but ultimately feel-good game that I’d highly recommend to anyone who enjoys casual adventure games, or who needs their spirits lifting!
Looking for more games with dogs? Check out these reviews:
Dogs Organised Neatly – Like Tetris but Cuter and More Relaxing! – Pupperazzi – Relax with this Cute Dog Photography Game! – Wobbledogs: Canine Antics and Silly Sandbox Fun!