Played on Xbox Series X
If you knew for certain that your life was going to end before the end of the day what would you do in your final hours? Tie up some loose ends maybe? Say some goodbyes? Enjoy a final meal?
Would you be satisfied with your life choices as a close friend approaches to violently kill you?
These are not everyday questions, are they?
Quitting the Slaughterhouse
The premise of the game is certainly unique. In Adios, you are a Mid-Western Pig farmer who has been aiding a mob affiliated hitman for years by feeding his victims (handily butchered into bite-size chunks) to your pigs in exchange for cold, hard cash. It’s not exactly a job role you’d put on your Linkedin Profile. However, you have decided that enough is enough and you are no longer willing to do this.
When telling the hitman your decision, you are well aware that it will likely mean your death, but you are determined to stick to your guns, even though it may mean that he will reach for his. The hitman, in some ways, has become a close friend over the years, so he decides to spend the day with you helping out with farm chores while also trying to convince you to carry on with the prior arrangement and save your own life in the process.
To start to detail further from this point becomes somewhat difficult, because it would effectively spoil the game completely.
This is an interactive narrative driven game which at certain points in the conversation offers you a selection of responses which you activate via the d-pad. Selecting different responses to the hitman’s questions allows you to gain more information regarding your own circumstances – including what led you to do this shady work in the first place, and crucially, why you now feel that now is the time to stop.
The script and voice acting is the real star here. The focus is continuously on the discussion betwee the two men. It drifts back and forth between the past and the present; how you have got to this point in time and the changes that have occurred in both society and the country itself over many years.
I played the game through twice for this review (Full disclosure, it is a fairly short journey, coming in at around 90 minutes) and by selecting different responses, I was able to flesh out the back story of the main character and his motivations, both past and present.
Adios teaches us many things; about breeds of pigs that have become rare in the US, American Chestnut trees which were wiped out by disease and took with them not only the nuts themselves but a thriving Lumber industry in a whole state. We get educated during the animated conversation as it ebbs and flows and it’s wonderfully written.
Interestingly, sometimes the game will suggest multiple responses to a question but only one will be available with the others greyed out. If you try and select the greyed out comments they are not vocalised, as they represent thoughts within the protagonists head and are variations on things that he would like to say – but knows he cannot.
There are a series of set pieces where you visit different locations around the property carrying out chores such as goat milking, shovelling manure into a wheelbarrow and feeding your horse (well, it is a farm after all!) These are followed by some mini games that you complete with your visitor such as clay pigeon shooting and throwing horseshoes.
Although I am a fan of Walking Simulators, I do have a pet hate about objects that can be picked up for absolutely no reason or purpose. Although several of these things exist within Adios, I really liked the objects that could be used interactively such as the records and tapes. These were a nice touch, especially if you consider someone knowingly listening to certain pieces of music for potentially the last time ever.
Other flourishes such as the posters on the wall in Bill’s bedroom tickled me as well. If I were a betting man, I would say that one of them is a very nicely done tribute to the Transformer album by Lou Reed. Little things like this bring out the personality and interests of the development team and I always want to applaud that.
There is no Fate…
It is obvious that Adios has been developed by a small team, but you can tell that they have been labouring over this project to get their vision out into the gaming community. Sure, there are a few flaws such as how the animals dont really look that great and the movement of the Horse on the odd occasions when it looks like it is on roller skates, but all things considered the positives outweigh the negatives.
There is however an issue that lets the game down for me and that is related to the promotional description for Adios.
‘How you respond to your friend will determine the rest of your life.’
Playing through the game more than once and responding in different ways did flesh out the details behind the situation I found myself in but I was not able to influence anything or change what was going to happen at the games climax. There do not seem to be alternate endings and I do not believe that how you respond actually makes any difference. Maybe I got too involved with the story and the characters but I found this extremely disappointing and it certainly affected my view of and review score for the title as a whole.
…but what we make for ourselves.
Adios is a noticeably short game and it feels to me like a teaser for a larger project, almost like a show reel. The developers obviously have big ideas that they want to share so hopefully they will be given some backing and a larger canvas on which to express themselves in the future.
Adios touches on the passing of time and the effects that events have on all things afterwards in subtle and clever ways. This is not your standard ‘Walking Simulator’ and instead, the primary focus, thanks to well written and well acted script is to make you ask yourself some deep questions about who you are, where you are in your life and really, on what is truly important.
How would you choose to spend your last day on earth? What would the last words you’d want to hear from a close friend?
‘Leave the back door unlocked’ has never sounded so menacing in my experience.