The Good Life review – Deadly Premonition by way of middle England •

The Good Life review - Deadly Premonition by way of middle England •

Sometimes it’s nice to be surprised by a video game. As I made my way to The Good Life, I didn’t know much beyond that other than that it was a life simulation of the fertile mind of Hidetaka ‘Swery’ Suehiro, the creator of the cult classic Deadly Premonition and various other shabby and characterful delicacies, and that I had enjoyed a few not-so-successful crowdfunding runs before I finally crossed the line on Kickstarter. Beyond that, there were little previews or promotions ahead of its cross-platform release last week.

The Good Life reviewPublisher: White Owls / PlayismDeveloper: Grounding / White OwlsPlatform: Played on SwitchAvailability: Now available on Switch, PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Which works great, really, given its premise: you’re a very nervous New York photographer, Naomi Hayward, who inexplicably found herself in a mountain of debt to an English newspaper and therefore moved to the city of Rainy Woods (a name this will be familiar, I’m sure, to fans of Swery’s larger work) to uncover its secrets and recoup some of that money by taking photos of its people and places. Why exactly are you in debt to an English newspaper, and where exactly is this village whose genesis came from a press trip that Swery once took to Hitchin and yet seems to be somewhere in the imaginary ether? between Lancashire and Cornwall? Why does everyone in the village turn into a cat or a dog on some nights?

Dwelling too much on certain details is like missing the point a bit when there are so many other details to get lost in – indeed, the most surprising part of The Good Life is the depth of its systems of communication. life simulation, the expanse and its open world is generous and how authentic its portrayal of Little England can be, sometimes matching the great Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture by capturing the quaint and quietly dilapidated villages nestled deep in the campaign.

The Good Life bends the vagaries of country life for different purposes, however, thick with the character and whimsy of Deadly Premonition, but this time served with quintessentially English tics and traits. In Rainy Woods, the villagers keep their routine as the clock ticks and day turns to night – it’s a bit like Animal Crossing, only instead of anthropomorphized animals there is an alcoholic vicar, a novelist deeply conceited or the wizard who lives deep in the woods and sometimes utters “bullshit” in the best read of the word I have ever encountered in a video game.

It’s not a game with a fully voiced cast, however – they’re reduced to single lines repeated as punctuation, a limitation that extends to Naomi herself who continually exclaims “hellhole fucking hell.” “while she is burdened with increasingly ridiculous tasks. In The Good Life, there are scavenging quests – god damn it, there are so many scavenging quests – and there are sheep races and mystery hunts and light puzzles tucked away in the open world. There is another wrinkle added by the fact that after a certain point you can change into a cat or a dog at any time to unlock other possibilities.

Distractions are plentiful in Rainy Wood, although more often than not they are clumsily designed.

It’s a lot, and it doesn’t necessarily match well. Despite all its generosity, there are a lot of squeaks in The Good Life, the sense of a game a little out of its time. I’ve pushed through The Good Life on Switch – obviously the least capable of all the platforms this is available on – but no matter where you play, you’ll have to put up with some crude models and animations, all of which are slightly excused by one. toy town aesthetic, and stingy draw distances and frame rates. It’s not pretty, but it never suffers from the woes of Deadly Premonition 2 – indeed, being developed by Grounding rather than Swery’s own White Owls, it may look like Ratchet & Clank: A Rift Apart in comparison.

So it’s an unpolished, often frustrating and sometimes flabby open-world adventure, but it’s an adventure with a lot of heart and surprising depth. He leans heavily on his life-simulation aspects, asking you to keep Naomi fed and rested, sometimes giving her a cold or worse yet a broken limb that you have to deal with if you don’t want to be a lame mess that goes. passed out outside the desk in the middle of the day. Although it does happen anyway, because everything in The Good Life is a bit of a mess – the follow-up quests are painful, inventory management is a nightmare and everything seems to be on the verge of falling apart at any time. It’s riddled with what could be huge inconsistencies or just a baffling series of non-sequences – I don’t know which one is myself, and I’m pretty sure Swery either, but conflicts can be painful. . It is a major failure that a game that relishes its sweet freedoms then makes the simple act of moving around the city a constant wear and tear and failure.

There is an app where you can upload your photos and earn regular income when you take certain targets.

Get through it, however, and The Good Life can be a sweet, extremely charismatic, and surprisingly rich experience; a game on photography in which you are invited to prick and slowly push the cogs of country life, sometimes told with disarming authenticity. For everything it draws from fairy tales and myths – there’s a healthy dose of Arthurian legend here, as well as sleuth cameos that eerily resemble Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous creations – these are the smaller details that merge and convince. It’s having the right kind of bins outside the house, the feeling of quiet lethargy that hangs over the center of the village, or the joy of turning your back on it all and strolling in the neighboring fields.

It’s an absolute mess, as you would expect from a Swery joint, with the familiar flaws when it comes to technical details and lumpy writing. He also has the same spark as Deadly Premonition, scrupulously pushing the limits of what’s possible, as well as pushing the limits of the team’s technical capabilities. Here is an adventure as baffling as it is charming, the small town of Rainy Woods always ready with a surprise or two.

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