In 2017, The Good Life’s first fundraising campaign was a resounding failure. Despite this, the game ended up with uneven quality after many delays, financing failures, and design changes. Despite this, there are times in The Good Life when the humor shines through, and the slice-of-life elements prove to be quite compelling. These, however, are insufficient to compensate for the stale aesthetic.
The Good Life’s Journalist Naomi Hayward’s mission is crystal clear: discover the truths hidden under the surface of England’s once-happiest town to pay off an enormous debt to Morning Bell News.
The fact that a portion of Naomi’s debt gets erased after each mission compelled me to dig further into the town’s bizarre secrets. While on a hunt, I crashed a century-old party and snooped around a military installation looking for sensitive papers. As I shook my head in amazement at the absurdity of the situation, I couldn’t help but crack a grin at the absurdity of the storyline.
The writing, on the other hand, may veer dangerously close to being childish. For example, Naomi, a city slicker, often refers to Rainy Woods as a “goddamn hellhole.” Overuse of this phrase creates the impression of an angst-ridden adolescent attempting to sound more mature by swearing often. There’s a lot of narrative hand-waving here as well. Even a tiny amount of investigation into the setup of the game leads it to fall. A New York journalist owes money to an English news organization. How did she get herself into this situation? Questions like this go unanswered. Therefore I was forced to accept the confusing background despite my disappointment.
Even parts of the story that, at first glance, appear significant are given this confusing treatment. When I first arrive in Rainy Woods, I discover the locals have strange shape-shifting powers that seem to be linked to the moon’s cycle. Contrary to the celestially affected citizens, they don’t function the same way when I acquire my transformation abilities. I’m not meant to worry too much about my strange skin-changing behavior since it’s just one more odd narrative element. For those debt-clearing investigations, my skillset is valuable when looking for certain smells or scaling tall structures.
The gameplay is also perplexing due to the haphazard way in which genres and mechanics are muddled together. The Good Life is based on a true story about a murder. You may make meals, make clothing, create medicines, and upgrade your home using the game’s collected materials. Various games may be found in it, such as button-mashy action, survival, and photography-based tasks for earning money. Some of these components were interesting to me, but they didn’t mesh well together. My curiosity was piqued when Naomi told me she had collected recipes from restaurants where she had often ordered the same dish.
However, money is always an issue, so I decided to stop it to use the money for more important things, like repairing my camera when it breaks. This issue gets in the way of the narrative from time to time. When I was nearing the end of a quest’s final battle, I discovered I was running short on sleep and had no means to keep myself awake. I had no choice but to cut fast, an essential job to go back to bed to avoid fatigue. I paid a neighboring temple to take me back to prevent collapsing from exhaustion and incurring a minor hospital cost.
Getting back home to relax and even save is an old-fashioned experience, and it’s not the only one. The graphics are drab, with stone walls that seem perfectly smooth from a distance and flat figures with little expression. Multiple times, the music’s abrupt shifts caught me off guard. The music may sometimes jerk when you go out of a store and onto the town’s central plaza. The story also relied on outmoded stereotypes; for example, characters often refer to Naomi as a snarky blonde, even when such a description doesn’t seem justified.
Exasperating barriers dot the landscape, making it almost difficult to find other routes across the countryside. Fast travel is expensive and only available from a few select locations. Despite its flaws, The Good Life was a pleasure to watch. When the narrative is purposefully ridiculous or when I had the opportunity to breathe in the world, it’s undoubtedly enjoyable, even if it does have some flaws. When things don’t fit together well, or the design is flawed, the Good Life nevertheless has heart.