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The Good Life Is The Latest Quirky SWERY Offering That Occasionally Delights

Platform: PC (version reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre: Adventure Game Featuring Photography, Animal Transformations, & Some Life Sim Debt-Paying Stuff

If you know the name SWERY and the games the developer has done, chances are you know what you’re getting into. You’re either getting a broken mess of a game with an engrossing and weird story, or a semi-decent game with an enthralling if surreal narrative.

With his latest game The Good Life under his new company White Owls, you’re getting into pretty much the same thing albeit with more cartoony graphics and a British countryside setting. And a cat/dog war dynamic going on.

Village People

You play a reporter named Naomi Hayward, who hails from New York and has a bitchy attitude. She’s assigned to uncover the dark secret of the British village of Rainy Falls, while also taking photos to earn money. Why? To pay off her debt of £30,000,000. Also, about close to an hour into the game, she drinks a potion made by a hippie witch which can make her transform into a cat at will. She can also transform into a dog, ride a sheep, wear different getups for buffs, take odd jobs to earn more money, and just wander around the countryside donating money to shrines for quick fast travelling. Oh, and she’ll also have to pick a side between cats and dogs.

In case you couldn’t tell, The Good Life is an adventure game with RPG elements. Naomi can get hungry and tired, so you need to keep her well-fed and sane to continue her investigation and money-making. She also needs to take baths and beautify herself lest she ends up all smelly and piss off the village folk. When some of her stats get critical, she may even need to get to a doctor to patch her up quick, though that’ll cost her extra. Honestly, with all the quick travel options and transformation bits, this “problem” isn’t that big a deal and does add some challenge to maintaining your protagonist’s sanity.

The main problem with The Good Life is that a number of its open world and gameplay mechanics are simplistic and underdeveloped. Yes, you can ride a sheep, but apart from a few quests involving racing with sheep, there isn’t much to it apart from just travelling really fast. Puzzles and platforming that involves Naomi’s cat form is simplistic, and the overall photography bit is just pointing your camera at a busy place, take pics of key subjects, and uploading them on your slow-ass computer to earn a lot of money. That’s it!

The other jobs are just you getting the item for that specific task, then approaching the interactive spot to get that resource. Repeat ad nauseam. Control-wise, it feels pretty archaic so it takes some time getting used to if you’re not into old-style adventure games.

Perhaps that is The Good Life’s intention -emulating an Animal Crossing style simulation with a mystery story injected into it. But one element feels more developed than the other. I’m referring to the story and quirky characters. Naomi herself is a determined money hound with lots of sass, but she’s also the butt of the many jokes in the story. The villagers and other visitor NPCs that crop up have their fair share of colourful behaviours and odd conversations that entertain and delight. For newbies of SWERY’s adventure story chops, you’ll have a ball. For veterans, you’ll be right at home.

Life Goes On

The Good Life also has a few technical flaws, though the Nintendo Switch version is reportedly more buggy than the PC version I received for review. Despite all that, The Good Life kept my attention longer than it should. I was willing to brave through the mundane just to see what unfolds and what bitchy retort Naomi has in store for the weirdos in Rainy Woods.

The gameplay loop that revolves around photography, animal shapeshifting, and everything in-between is fine and isn’t completely banal, though it can wear out its welcome over time. Maybe it’s the narrative that just turns sideways close to the end when you least expect it. Either way, SWERY is doing something right in providing a less-than-janky open-world adventure with some simple colours and shapeshifting nonsense. It clearly lacks polish, but The Good Life makes it up with some heart and humour.

Final Score: 70/100


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