In development for quite some time now, originally up for funding back in 2017, The Good Life finally sees a release after several changes to its style & formula. A Debt Repayment RPG from Deadly Premonition creator SWERY, was it worth the wait? Lets find out
Journalist Naomi Hayward is drowning in debt and so accepts a request from The Morning Bell newspaper to uncover the mystery of a small English town. With the chance to wipe her debt clean, Naomi leaves New York behind and heads to the quaint village of Rainy Woods. Camera in hand Naomi begins her investigation but soon discovers an inexplicable phenomenon. The townspeople transform into cats and dogs as night falls! And just as she has to come to terms with that and begins to look into another mystery. a murder occurs. Can you manage Naomi’s debt and try to figure out all these curious happenings at Rainy woods!?
There’s certainly a plentiful amount of mysteries to be solved, and this game doesn’t really wait around to get the story started as that very first evening of your arrival is when the first curiosity begins. The story is generally delivered through your interactions with the other villagers as you progress, so it isn’t something that becomes overbearing with cutscenes galore, tho there are a few for the important bits. You can blaze through the main quests if you like, but you’ll be missing out on a lot if you don’t take the time to get to know the villagers too.
To add to the game quirky premise is a stylised presentation that applies to the characters more than the world. Everything has a slightly exaggerated design to it with several straight edges thrown in for added effect, but that doesn’t mean some aspects aren’t grounded. Texture work is very good for the village in particular with plenty of detail in the buildings and surrounding areas, the little details in the local shops etc also help to sell you on the world crafted. The game can occasionally get atmospheric when the English weather rolls in or you visit areas around the outskirts of the village, ends up feeling more alive than you’d expect wherever you go.
The audio side of the game is a little underwhelming, BGM doesn’t really do much for me and there isn’t much voice acting during dialogue, but given the games roots its not really a surprise. Luckily you shouldn’t have to worry about performance much, as long as your system is relatively good. My PC (R5 1600/16GB/ RTX 2080ti) had no trouble hitting 4K/60 with max settings, but I wasn’t able to test on my laptop for lower end devices as I usually do due to the minimums for GPU in particular being a bit beyond what I had.
Sleuthing around an idyllic English village to get to the bottom of a few curious goings on is what this game is all about, but that’s not all you got to think about as there’s a debt to manage as well. You’ll generally spend your days exploring the village looking for clues and taking photos, which can be uploaded on your PC back at the cottage to earn money. When it comes to looking for clues, you can always rely on the transformations you unlock soon after arriving. Both the cat & dog offer up unique opportunities to complete quests or find clues during your quests so you’ll be switching a lot at times. Some errands you’ll get wont need either of the other forms, sometimes its as simple as crafting, plus there’s plenty of villagers to give a helping hand if you wanna take it easy and source what you need. Don’t go spending too much money tho, even if the camera upgrades are enticing, there’s still a debt to pay off after all.
If you wanna kick back and relax then its a great game for that, mainly due to the village life that’s been crafted here. There’s plenty of unique characters, but its also the way they go about their general lives that can draw you in. Shops & stores have opening times, other businesses may be open longer, and everyone seems to have their own thing going on. The world isn’t static either as store inventory and prices can change over time, such is village life. You don’t really have to bog yourself down with quests which is good, take the occasional day off for some socialising with the villagers or photo opportunities to earn a little extra on the side.
The Good Life surely can feel like that when playing at times. There’s an intriguing mystery to solve, a beautiful stylised English village to explore and a quaint village life to keep you fulfilled – so long as you keep paying off that debt. It can get a little fetch quest heavy at times, but you can just take a few days off and earn your keep through other means for a change of pace. Sure it’s not for everyone like other SWERY games, and if you can look past the usual trappings of his games or enjoy them, you’ll certainly enjoy your time in Rainy Woods.
Not for everyone, but that still doesn’t change the fact that Rainy Woods is the best village in the world.