In an industry that champions violence and gore, it's always refreshing to play something that favours nature and nurture instead. Sure, punching a goblin in the back of its weird head is great. Cathartic, even. But sometimes, just for a change, it'd be nice to have a lovely wander down a quiet English lane before enjoying a delicious lukewarm pint in a dusty old pub.
For better or worse this is the experience offered by The Good Life, the latest game by Deadly Premonition creator Hidetaka 'SWERY' Suehiro. It's a gentle RPG-inspired adventure that is absolutely not for everyone.
As photojournalist Naomi, players must uncover the dark secret that lies at the heart of Rainy Woods, an ethereal representation of an English country locale as interpreted through the lens of a Japanese development team. The majority of your time is spent exploring the game's strangely expansive map, riding sheep in order to complete an endless list of fetch quests and photography challenges for the town's bizarre inhabitants.
SWERY fans will be pleased to know that The Good Life is effectively the life-simulator sections from Deadly Premonition expanded into a full game. Residents all have their own schedules and routines. Players must keep Naomi well-fed and stress-free by eating plates of sautéed hedgehog and downing pints of amber ale on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, this relaxing mechanical foundation is soured by myriad irksome issues. Some mandatory gameplay sections are frustrating to the point of misery, such as one particular mini-game where you're tasked with balancing a ball you barely have control over on the planet's slipperiest see-saw. Not to mention the entire game is plagued by a consistent bug that causes the town and various other environmental aspects to flicker in and out of existence when played on a PlayStation 5. How the game launched with such a distracting issue is beyond us, especially considering the game runs near flawlessly on a PS4.
For those who relish bizarre interactive experiences, The Good Life is an essential oddity that can't be missed. For everyone else, this is a barely functional chore that is all but guaranteed to frustrate and bewilder.
Still, you've got to hand it to SWERY: no one else makes games quite like this.