A number of games over the last few years have gracefully leaned into themes of death positivity and processing grief, such as Spiritfarer and Before Your Eyes. Sure, the majority of games out there use death as a failure state, but portraying death narratively (and sometimes mechanically) in a thoughtful way can be far from easy.
How to Say Goodbye, an upcoming narrative puzzle game from the developers that made the award-winning Monument Valley 2, similarly touches upon the afterlife. Its themes squarely focus on the idea that while grief can be overpowering, there are always ways to move forward and accept one’s circumstances.
Shown during Summer Game Fest’s Day of the Devs livestream, you play as a character that recently became a ghost, and must navigate a spiritual world populated by other paranormal creatures. Gameplay-wise, your movements are restricted to a grid on the ground that is made up of individual tiles. You have to move these tiles to reach a door somewhere in the level, but certain tiles can only be moved in specific directions. And whenever you move a tile it moves other sets of tiles near you. During the stream, the developers likened the experience to solving a Rubik’s Cube: “The puzzles never end up in a state where you can’t solve them,” which also harkens back to the game’s overall message of overcoming grief.
Whether or not How to Say Goodbye ends up saying something profound or not about human existence remains to be seen. It comes to Steam sometime later this year.
Day of the Devs is part of Fanbyte’s Hot Game Summer coverage, where we’re bringing you recaps and commentary on this summer’s game presentations like Xbox’s showcase, the PC Gaming Show, and the all-encompassing Summer Game Fest hosted by Geoff Keighley. If you’re interested in seeing all of Fanbyte’s coverage, check out our Hot Game Summer 2022 hub.