No, you haven’t just been transported back to the days of PS2 – The Good Life is in fact a new game, released in this, the god-forsaken year of 2021.
Which is to say, it’s not much of a looker. Its rough textures and blocky character models will leave you thinking about games from 15 years ago. Especially on Switch, where its low resolution makes everything look even worse; The Good Life‘s visuals are well and truly off-putting. Needless to say, you should play it on a home console if you can.
At least The Good Life, the latest game from Deadly Premonition creator SWERY, isn’t broken. It looks old-fashioned, sure, but it’s perfectly playable. And in fact, under its rusty exterior, there’s a lot of charm to be found here. Though how quickly that will wear off on you depends on how much you enjoy listening to a bizarre array of British accents, some good and some laughably terrible.
You see, The Good Life casts you as Naomi, an American photojournalist who’s been sent to stay in the sleepy English village of Rainy Woods. It’s obviously a fictional village, but anyone who’s been to the chocolate-box villages deep in rural England will find the setting comfortingly familiar. There’s a small village square, complete with a B&B, a pub, and a handful of shops. Houses are spread out nearby, opening up into rolling fields and beautiful countryside. It really could be something special to look at.
The whole game isn’t voiced, but every so often you’ll be treated to a cutscene with narration. Within the first 30 minutes you’ll be bombarded with accents from all corners of the United Kingdom; why they’d exist together in one tiny village is anyone’s guess, but they’ll at least raise a smile or two. As Naomi, you’ll be free to explore the village, chat to its locals, and even spend time cooking and growing crops in your own home. There are life sim elements here, and so simply enjoying your time with The Good Life is part of the game. But there’s also a mystery afoot in Rainy Woods, and that’s what you’re here to crack.
It seems the people of Rainy Woods turn into animals after nightfall. Some are cats, some are dogs. Naomi intends to find out why – and after inheriting an ability to change into a cat herself, she becomes much more nimble, allowing her to climb and run around the village with ease. It’s not all fun and games though; in her human form, Naomi has a huge debt to repay to The Morning Bell newspaper, and so in order to pay it off she’ll have to run jobs. That means snapping photos of various subjects, gathering information, running fetch quests and more.
So, yes, The Good Life may feel like a trip back in time thanks to its visuals and old-fashioned sensibilities. But it does have a charming side; something that makes you want to play and hang out in Rainy Woods despite its problems. Naomi may be a slightly annoying protagonist, but you’ll eventually warm to her, just as she eventually warms to life in a “goddamn hellhole”, which she continually describes Rainy Woods as.
Put it this way; The Good Life is definitely a Swery game, warts and all. And there’s something quite familiar and comforting in that.
The Good Life is available now on PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC. It’s also available as part of Xbox Game Pass.