Swery65 is a director known in a few cult circles for his charming yet frankly jank games. Ever since Deadly Premonition skyrocketed into the mainstream, fans have sought that next hit from him. One that subsequent titles like D4 (Dark Dreams Don’t Die), The Missing: J.J Macfield, and Deadly Premonition 2, have never been. Despite this, after a successful Kickstarter a few years back, it’s finally time to live The Good Life.
Let Me Take You to a Place I Know You Wanna go to
The Good Life places you in the debt-riddled boots of one Naomi Hayward. She’s a journalist/private investigator who has moved to Rainy Woods for a job promising to solve her debt problems; Naomi has to unveil the mystery of Rainy Woods.
Naomi isn’t there long until she meets some of the eclectic residents of Rainy Woods. These include the Wheelchair-bound Elizabeth, her book-focused brother, the Witch of the Woods, and even a merchant who dons a full set of armor.
Soon after landing, you’ll find there is a lot to Rainy Woods. Between the ability to change into a cat or dog, there is also a murder mystery to solve, plenty of side stories, and opportunities to pick up a little more dosh to help Naomi out too!
Since The Good Life is a title directed by Swery 65 you should go in expecting some quirky ideas; This game is full of them. The cast for a start rivals that of the residents of Greenvale over in Deadly Premonition; nothing is quite what it seems with them.
From people who speak in poems, streamers who run clothes stores, and even a Sherlock Holmes knock-off with a parrot who loves “Fish and Chips”, you can’t help but be endeared to this cast of misfits. Even if you know some of them are a bit naughty.
I have got a Feeling that You’re Gonna Like It
The stories available on The Good Life range from the mundane “find me some ingredients and I’ll make your food” to some rather specific conundrums which give you a further glimpse into the cast of the game. The main narrative though is a fantastic mystery that provides enough bait and switches to keep you on your paws until the credits roll. While not the highest of stakes at times, Naomi perfectly encapsulates the feeling of being an outsider in a situation they don’t want to be in.
Naomi herself starts as quite an unlikeable character, with a strange relationship with everyone around her. As the game progresses you learn more and more about Naomi as a character and she quickly became one of my favorite cast members in this circus of personalities.
Love is Shining, Life is Thriving
The Good Life is dubbed a “Debt-Repayment RPG” but there is more to it. There is also a strong slice of life element to it, which permeates throughout the gameplay alongside light survival elements and even a sniff of combat.
As the main idea of the game is to get Naomi debt-free, she is open to taking on requests via E-Mail or through the characters in the game. These usually result in a monetary gain.
The requests are often fetch quests or involve you taking pictures of items, areas, or characters. A bulk of the game is built around Naomi being a photographic journalist, so this fits.
There is an image upload system called Flamingo which gives you “hot words”. These can be terms like “rainy weather” or “Cute animals”. If you manage to take pictures that tie into these words and upload them, you’ll earn money online just like a real influencer!
A Feeling that You get from The Good Life
The main storyline quests don’t deviate from the fetch quest formula and this may not be for everyone. The game has a much slower pace than people may be used to as well, and can almost be seen as a “murder mystery Animal Crossing” at points. You have the whole scavenging for items that every game seems to have, the ability to do a spot of gardening, weather systems, and a day and night cycle which changes people in more ways than you might expect.
Combat boils down to 1 attack button which drains stamina. There isn’t any nuance to it at all, and it doesn’t add anything by being there. In fact, it doesn’t come into effect until a few hours in, and it surprised me that it was even considered.
You have a Health meter, an energy meter, and a wellness meter to manage. This means that you have to ensure Naomi is living a healthy lifestyle, so she can reap the benefits of an early night with extra stamina and the like. Failure to do so can get Naomi sick and a costly visit to the Vet/Doctors is on the cards.
Finally, there is the mechanic that sees you turning into a cat or dog. Cats naturally hunt and climb, so it’s a handy investigative tool for getting to places you normally can’t as Naomi. Dogs are good for following people’s scents and traveling long distances, which is needed with the huge in-game map.
Once You get that Good Life Feeling
There are fast travel options available but you need to unlock them via shrines in the game. It’s worth working on these, as you’ll be jumping the long distances between the sleepy village of Rainy Woods, the surrounding areas, and the larger town area of Eccles quite frequently.
The gameplay isn’t the most exciting or engaging at any point, but coupled with the story and the characters it all fits in well. It’s a slow-paced slice of life game that doesn’t demand any urgency; one I just enjoyed sinking a few hours into here and there to just relax and discover new stuff about the area and characters each time I dove in.
Inner-City, Paris Grey
Performance was nice and smooth and in terms of glitches, I only ran into one. My quest marker wouldn’t appear on the map but it was directing me the wrong way on the in-game compass. It’s nothing a restart didn’t fix and I was off on my way again.
Graphically The Good Life isn’t going to push any console or computer to its extremes. It instead falls back on a charming, exaggerated cartoon style. The picturesque countryside backdrop is perfectly complemented by the strange cast of misfits with differentiating designs that lean into their personality well. The weather effects and the lighting are brilliant and do a great job of showing just how beautiful and dangerous the area is.
The character animations are brilliant as well. One of my favorites is the pointless “skip” button. It does nothing at all but performs a slow and smoothly animated skip and it is just one of those things where the charm just shines through.
This Song will make Your Day
On the audio side of things The Good Life is glorious in just how “British” it is with the voice acting. I’m fairly sure I’ve heard every accent from the British isles here and then some. It’s like Level 5, but dialed up to 11.
Not every single line is voice acted. It’s mostly just the cutscenes, while in-game has the odd grunt or iconic phrase for the character. A special shout-out to the narrator of the story, who is so enthusiastic and brilliant with his delivery; it gave me a good few laughs.
Musically there are some real earworms here, especially the world exploration tune which you’ll be hearing a lot of. My only real gripe was there isn’t enough of it – you’ll be suffering loop repetition very early on.
While there is a lot to love about The Good Life, the slow pace, lack of action and the gameplay loop comprised of fetch quests isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s a lot more niche than it initially seems.
The Good Life is a recommendation for fans of the more “punk” titles from directors such as Swery, Suda 51, and Onion Games/Love-de-lic. Those who enjoyed the quirky and obscure Simple Series of PS2 will likely enjoy it too. Its archaic formula may not be for all, but it has more heart than all of the AAA games combined.
THE GOOD LIFE IS RECOMMENDED
Many thanks to PLAYISM for a PC review code for this title.
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