The Good Life PAX West 2018 Preview
Look, I know it’s rough, but it’s got style. The Good Life, funded through Kickstarter and developed by SWERY’s White Owls and Yukio Futatsugi’s G-rounding, is still in an early build, and honestly, it probably shouldn’t be hands-on yet. But its depiction of a sleepy English village disrupted by a brash New Yorker charmed me into forgiving it anyway. You play as Naomi, an American photographer in England trying to pay off her debts (what those are and how she accrued them are as yet a mystery) by doing odd jobs around a town with pleasant, slice-of-life atmosphere and simple, stylistic graphics. The stereotypes of English villagers are turned on their head, however, with funny, down-to-earth dialogue that included a fair amount of swearing and Naomi’s honest (sometimes painfully so!) reactions to the interesting characters she interacted with.
Naomi’s photography skills come in use in the demo when she’s given the task to take a photo of a man’s truck after he sold it to pay off his own debts, creating a world that seems to be based on people owing each other money (just like my college campus). Right now the game needs hand-holding to get anything done—it was unclear as to how to get the truck to stop driving to take a photo of it, or what angle the photo had to be taken from—but after I put a large potted plant in front of the truck, it stopped and I snapped the photo. Naomi was also given the task of catching the old vicar in his cups and lurked outside the restaurant where he was secretly drinking, but I had to give up at the quest where I was supposed to catch two people in a scandalous affair. Every time Naomi approached them with her camera, they stopped kissing, and the game was vague about how she should approach them to take that photo, but I enjoyed The Good Life nonetheless.
A friend of mine didn’t enjoy his own experience, however, and accidentally knocked the truck over by walking into it. Following this, he jumped the barrier fence and fell off the end of the map. I never said it wasn’t flawed…but the small moments made up for me. I stepped away from the main missions and focused on the side quest I’d created for myself: collecting the small sheep plushes that littered the area and arranging them into a pleasing photo on the bar counter. If I could have that photo in my real slice-of-life everyday existence, I’d hang it above my bathroom mirror so I could look at their kind little eyes. Instead, I’ll wait until The Good Life comes out in late 2019. It feels like a long time, but if that’s what the developers need to improve on a fun, if flawed concept, I’m willing to wait.