Sawbuck Gamer

Almost Goodbye

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Almost Goodbye

In the vacuum of space, nobody can hear your dramatic pauses.

By Drew Toal • June 14, 2012

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.

In Ridley Scott’s sci-fi extravaganza Prometheus, intrepid agents of mankind go in search of their extraterrestrial origins and instead face the prospect of extraterrestrial extinction. Space is scary. The character in Aaron A. Reed’s text game Almost Goodbye is also about to face unknown dangers traveling into space. Before departing, Dr. Muriel Ross must say her goodbyes to five people—daughter, friend, lover, mentor, and protege. The game requires you to select a locale and a time for each goodbye in turn. The story unfolds in slightly different ways, depending on on when and where you meet and the manner of your farewell.

Death by alien xenomorph is preferable to suffering through too many of these maudlin meetups, but the story does entertain in an accidental way. One of my favorite moments comes when Dr. Ross is making her farewell to ex-lover Leon, at the old theater just after sunset:

“No, it’s not an apology. We’re… past that, I think.” For a moment I can’t think why for the life of me I agreed to this. He smiles a little but I’m losing him, I know. I run my hands through my hair. “I’m leaving, Leon. For good. And after I’m gone I just want you to think of me as a friend, not… something else. I want for you to look up at the sky years from now and know I’m still there, maybe looking back at you, and… for us to feel… I don’t know, fondness, good things. Not twisted up. Okay?”

So many ellipses, so many dramatic pauses. There’s really no way to win Almost Goodbye, but it’s easy to feel like you’ve lost, because no matter what situations you choose, every goodbye makes the labored dialogue of, say, Dawson’s Creek appear pithy by comparison. Dr. Ross’ crewmates don’t know what they’re in for.

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21 Responses to “So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Almost Goodbye

  1. Trevor Murray says:

    It’s a choose-your-own-adventure book… only less imaginative.

  2. Chris Holly says:

    Would love to see a regular feature on the site about interactive fiction, it’s a great community putting out some quality games.

    • Girard says:

       This would be awesome. Though I can’t imagine the amount of free time such a column would cost me. I’ve had Adam Cadre’s new IF sitting in another tab for over a week now waiting for me to take the time to play it through…

      But, yes, I would love a Gameological take on contemporary (and classic) IF games.

      • rmyung says:

        If you’re talking about Endless/Nameless, I HIGHLY recommend playing it in an interpreter.  The game encourages record/replay functionality.  Having to type out (and repeat) some of the needed commands by hand would be pretty tedious.

        I actually think the IF community is not as active as it used to be a 4-5 years ago.  There was a peak as authors pushed the limits of the medium.  Right now, it feels like people are trying to figure out new ground to explore.  Part of the movement seems to be towards making the games easy/accessible, like these html text games.  

    • John Teti says:

      Yeah, seems like a good idea for an occasional check-in/roundup type thing. I will keep it in mind, and thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Captain_Internet says:

    Spoiler warning for Prometheus, please? I’ve seen the trailer, I know it all goes wrong, but now you’ve also hinted at the wider context.

    • Girard says:

       The only description of the movie is “intrepid agents of mankind go in search of their extraterrestrial
      origins and instead face the prospect of extraterrestrial extinction,” which is pretty much just a paraphrase of the trailer’s “They went looking for our beginning. What they found could be our end.”

      The only additional info is the adjective “extraterrestrial,” which you likely also were already aware of after seeing the spaceships in the trailer.

      • Captain_Internet says:

        It’s still far more than is stated in the trailer, but never mind :) Ridley Scott is doing his damndest to spoil the plot all by himself.

    • John Teti says:

      Drew told me he hasn’t seen the movie, either, so don’t worry, he doesn’t know anything more than you. He’s just going off the trailer.

      • Effigy_Power says:

         Wasn’t that the movie? By all the material they gave away I thought I had already paid $14…

  4. George_Liquor says:

    You… have… been…

    eaten by a grue. 

  5. Aaron Reed says:

    Hi there– I’m the author of this piece. Sorry it didn’t work for you, but I appreciate the coverage. I just wanted to point out an aspect of the piece that it seems like you missed: some of the text is procedurally generated. (The bit you quoted, for example, includes some procedural text mixed with some statically authored text.) The point was to experiment with different ways of making story interactive other than just branching paths or other existing models. Anyway, it sounds like the experiment didn’t work for most of the readers here, but thanks for taking the time to check it out anyway.