The Good Life Review – Blundering Sophistication

    Title: The Good Life
    Developer: White Owls Inc.
    Release Date: October 15, 2021
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Playism
    Genre: Investigative Immersive Sim

Ever wanted to play a game where you can transform into both a cat and dog, ride a sheep, take pictures for money, get attacked by a rabid badger, all the while investigating a murder mystery and repaying debt? Look no further; the newest SWERY65 game has got you covered.

The Good Life stars female protagonist Naomi Hayward as she is dropped off into a quaint little town called Rainy Woods, known as the “happiest town in the world.” Naomi happens to be drowning in a mountain of debt and has been sent by her company to a small town to uncover a dark secret to make some extra money. While SWERY65 is no stranger to the detective genre with games like Deadly Premonition, this game takes a bit of a lighthearted turn in the cozy direction.

The Good Life is a wacky, goofy, and over-the-top game that is self-aware of all the genres it incorporates. The gameplay loop revolves around collecting items and photographing things while taking on main and side quests. Of course, the life simulator aspects are there too, where you can take on daily tasks from gardening to checking emails. You can also upload pictures onto a social media website, where you are compensated for your hard work and troubles, which is ultimately how you repay your debt.

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The quirkiest part of the game is the fact that you can transform into a cat and dog after drinking a mysterious potion handed to you by the town witch. As a cat, you get to climb walls, run faster, and engage in combat with other critters on the street. As a dog, you get to pee on things and track scents.

Everyone in town also mysteriously turns into canines and felines when night falls. As you progress, you get to tame and ride sheep, encounter even more bizarre characters, and even meet a rival journalist with a flaming personality. Not long after taking pictures, Naomi is wrapped into a juicy murder mystery with a satisfying climax and great execution.

It’s hard to look past the outdated graphics of The Good Life in 2021. Character models are rough, and the entire world is created with low-quality textures. Voice acting is decent but is only present in important scenes. Most dialogue bubbles are accompanied by Naomi saying, “ugh, seriously?!” or “yeah, baby!” that gets repetitive quickly. On the other hand, performance on the PC is surprisingly smooth, with a constant 60 frames per second and no crashes.

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Though The Good Life presents various gameplay mechanics akin to your traditional slice-of-life adventure, it doesn’t necessarily blend them well together. Instead, it’s haphazardly put together with no strength in any particular one. As a result, there’s a lot to manage, and it can be overwhelming at times, especially when it doesn’t do much to progress the narrative.

For starters, the time of day needs to be tracked for specific events or quests to appear. You also have a hunger, health, and tired meter that you need to manage at all times. Going hungry will cause you to lose health, leading to a costly hospital visit. Eating certain foods can also cause illnesses that punish your already minuscule stats. Finally, you have to constantly shower to keep your hygiene up, or else you’ll attract flies and drive away friendly NPCs. These life sim elements do not go as deep as other games like Animal Crossing and becomes more cumbersome than pleasant.

Many of the quests boil down to some variation of a fetch quest. For example, one such incident has you chasing after a mysterious wheel-chaired lady all around town, only for her to disappear and the quest forcing you to travel around town again, asking people questions. Still, there is an attempt to vary things up, such as the previously mentioned time of day constraint or forcing you to wear a specific outfit to proceed. However, to achieve these variations, you either need to travel back home to sleep and pass the clock or go on another fetch quest to gather materials for the required attire. Keep in mind that running consumes stamina, and your stamina bar drains quickly. The cat transformation alleviates this somewhat as the cat runs faster, but even then, traveling becomes monotonous.

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Understandably, SWERY65 wanted The Good Life to be a slow-paced RPG with which players should take their time. After all, it is the good life, and the good life shouldn’t be rushed. Unfortunately, however, most of the gameplay elements are either poorly explained or just blatantly inconvenient.

There is a lot of fluff and repetition to get through to get to the meat of the narrative. As the “happiest town on earth,” it sure doesn’t look too happy with most of the streets empty and most of the main characters talking with no emotion.

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The Good Life is by no means a bad game; it’s very niche for a specific group of people. It’s a perfect example of a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. It’s novel to see so many mechanics meshed together, but most if not all just seem half-baked.

If you can get through the fetch quests and borderline walking simulator elements, then The Good Life has an intriguing narrative for you to unravel and enjoy. It’s charming and unique in its own way, with its goofy presentation and silly supernatural elements. Maybe it’s the good life that SWERY65 had always imagined.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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