Reviews - Updated on March 29, 2022

Relevant for platform: NSW

Among the Japanese video game developers there are several people whose projects attract the attention of not the largest, but devoted audience of fans. Among them is the director and one of the authors of the Deadly Premonition script, Hidetaka Suehiro, better known as SWERY. Although several of his creations are considered almost cult, it was only the second time that they managed to raise money for a new project, The Good Life, through Kickstarter. The release was postponed several times to improve the quality of the game. Could it be that things were even worse than in the final version?..

Possible crime

In the role of photographer Naomi, we find ourselves in the English town of Rainy Woods, which is called the happiest place in the world. The heroine arrived here from New York on the order of a client who asked her to find out the secrets of the town, and she hopes that this order will help her pay off a huge debt. The locals look strange: one is dressed in knightly armor and never takes it off, the other looks like a ram in a top hat, the barmaid looks like a punk rocker with a multi-colored hairstyle.

But this is far from the strangest thing – at night all these people turn into cats and dogs. Moreover, a few hours after Naomi’s arrival, a ritual murder takes place, and an unknown murderer escapes from the scene of the crime. The story is in the spirit of SWERY, and its non-standard approach to design is noticeable everywhere: the characters are ridiculous and stereotypical, some of the accents are such that the dialogue is impossible to listen to, and the fourth wall is broken here at every turn.

The Good Life (2021): Обзор

You don’t even need to voice it – the subtitles convey the accent perfectly.

Collect and bring

It’s a pity that the gameplay spoils everything so mercilessly that you quickly lose interest even in an intriguing plot. Most of the tasks here are courier quests, with the help of which the developers seemed to be trying to stretch the game for a few extra hours. Approach the character – he asks to find something. Find out who can find it – and that one needs two or three items. You run, collect everything, complete quests – and in the next task you again need to find something.

SWERY understood this, so the grouchy main character constantly complains about courier quests and repeats that no gamer will like such tasks. But it is somehow strange to talk about the shortcomings of the game, instead of fixing them and offering other entertainment. The first time the joke seems funny, the second it’s funny, and the fiftieth you sit with a stone face and just skip the dialogue.

The Good Life (2021): Обзор

The history and legends of England are constantly remembered, but it is not entirely clear why this is all.

There are other, more varied assignments. But their quality is not much higher. You have to take part in the races riding on an absolutely uncontrollable ram (the time for the race is given twice as much as required). Carry barrels from the big room to the exit if you suddenly miss a similar mission from Mafia II. Search the city for two girls who only appear on certain days. Here, like in Shenmue, everyone has a schedule – people come to work or come to town at the same time.

Miscellaneous and bad

One of the main problems is that The Good Life constantly throws in new gameplay mechanics, but uses them extremely rarely. Soon after the start of the game, Naomi will learn to turn into a cat and a dog, and at any time of the day – this is not explained in any way and does not surprise anyone in the city. The cat can climb walls and attack small animals – you will do both a couple of times. The dog searches for targets by tracks, marks the territory and is able to fight predators – this is also not needed so often. I especially don’t want to get into awkward “one-button” fights.

Happy hunting!

The photography mechanic seems to be just as raw, which, in fact, is actively used only in side quests, and in the main story it is constantly forgotten. Outside of assignments, all you need to do is take pictures to upload them to your local social media account, where hashtags change twice a week and topics ranging from antiques to animals become popular. For every like you get one penny, and the better the photo matches the trends, the more money you earn.

But by and large, you don’t need to do this, even if the process seems fascinating. The camera is quickly accessed by pressing one button, with the other button you click the shutter. If you have previously studied trendy hashtags (for this you need to go home and turn on the computer), when a suitable object or creature hits the lens, an exclamation mark will appear next to it so that you do not have to guess yourself. You spend time on it just to earn an extra penny, and you like the mechanics. But if Naomi had a different profession, the game would hardly have changed noticeably.

The Good Life (2021): Обзор

Yes, you have to wait almost a minute of real time until all the photos are uploaded.

Survive at any cost

What is especially surprising in The Good Life (in a bad way) is the desire of SWERY to offer not a story adventure, even with stupid quests, but almost a life simulator. The upper left corner of the screen is littered with icons and scales: health, drowsiness, hunger, and mood. When you try to switch to running, a scale of endurance appears at the bottom. But the most idiotic thing is the changes in the state of the heroine, the reasons for which are not explained at all until you encounter them.

For example, a character can catch a cold. In my case, it happened the second I left the house after a long sleep and it was raining outside. Is it due to the fact that I ate something wrong? Or should you sleep less? Or shouldn’t you have run so much? Why is immunity weakened? It is not clear, but the only solution is to go to the clinic and pay an impressive amount for treatment by local standards, otherwise the scale of endurance, already small, will be halved. The funny thing is that eating at local restaurants gives bonuses like increased health and reduced sleepiness, but when you have a cold, stamina does not increase, despite the description of the food.

The Good Life (2021): Обзор

You can save yourself from the consequences of reduced endurance by riding a ram, but get ready to hear the same cue every time you accelerate, which will quickly begin to unnerve.

Such mechanics do not fit well with the rest of the gameplay for many reasons. Firstly, the city is indecently large – you have to run for a long time on empty roads on which nothing happens. Secondly, there are too many things to keep an eye on. If you’re into photography or solving a puzzle related to a side quest, you’re constantly afraid of doing something wrong. Suddenly the heroine gets hungry or wants to sleep? Will her mood worsen? You can fix this with alcohol, but alcoholism, in which case, will also have to be treated in a clinic …

You can endlessly list the shortcomings, in which a few pluses are buried. For example, only one quest can be active, and even if you complete all the conditions of another quest, they will not be counted for you. Grandpa asks you to cook a dish according to his recipe, and you had a hard time finding the ingredients? If you have done everything, forgetting to switch to this quest, you will have to do everything again – the desired dialogue simply will not start. There are a lot of such inconveniences here, not to mention the optimization on consoles – the frame rate crashes regularly on the Switch, and there are a lot of complaints on other platforms.

The Good Life (2021): Обзор

No thanks, look for another fool.

The name The Good Life is SWERY’s obvious sarcasm. Naomi comes to the city and lives in a dirty house, the Internet is so slow in it that the pictures are loaded in half a minute, and the locals are solid freaks giving idiotic orders. But sarcasm and constant self-criticism do not make the game better – it is woven from bad mechanics that prevent you from enjoying the plot and the pleasant atmosphere of an English town. I doubt that anyone will remember this game in a week, but I hope those who invested in it on Kickstarter are at least a little satisfied with the result.

Pluses: a pretty town with amusing, dissimilar residents; rare jokes make you smile; photography is very easy and convenient.

Cons: a ton of monotonous courier quests, against which the story is lost; inappropriate elements of a survival simulator; many mechanics are used a couple of times and forgotten forever; regular repetition of the same jokes; only one quest can be active, which is very inconvenient in a game with a bunch of side quests; optimization problems.

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