As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved simulation games. I think my love affair started with ancient Maxis games, which let me be everything from an ant to a fish to a healthcare administrator. Truth be told, I’ve never actually cared about what I was simulating. For me, the thing that makes these games fun is the innate weirdness of trying to simulate and gamify something that’s normal and fairly mundane.

The Good Life has taken that concept to insane new heights. During my time with the SWERY title, I have been a:

  • Photographer
  • Journalist
  • Detective
  • Farmer
  • Cook
  • Interior decorator
  • Miner
  • Shepherd
  • Sheep rider
  • Cat
  • Dog
  • Professional urinator

(I’m not making that last part up.)

I came into The Good Life expecting a murder mystery title, but while it does have both murder and mystery, it’s really more of a life simulation game than anything else. Instead of searching for clues, I’ve been eating flapjacks so that I could dig up more dinosaur bones or heading down to the local pub so that I can enter the daily drink-off. When I ventured into the Witch’s Woods, I wasn’t trying to uncover dark secrets. I just wanted to forage for mushrooms so that I could make a savory pie.

Although The Good Life does give you the occasional time-sensitive quest, most of the game can be enjoyed at an extremely leisurely pace. You can easily spend an entire night trying to come up with the perfect garden layout or trying to exploit the trends on the in-game social media site, Flamingo. You might be dealing with piles of debt and a murder investigation and inexplicable animal transformations, but there’s no real sense of urgency. The game gives you a ton to do, and it’s constantly encouraging you to explore, hang out with the townsfolk, and do whatever else your heart desires.

In fact, it can be hard to be too single-minded in a playthrough of The Good Life. Like many simulation games, there are stats that need to be managed. If your stress levels are high, you might need to take a break and enjoy a cup of tea (or a pint of beer). If you’re feeling hungry, you may want to fix yourself a meal (or turn into a cat and find a tasty-looking animal). You might want to work hard and accomplish as much as you can, but eventually, the game will give you a nudge towards relaxation.

If you’re a big fan of quirky simulation games, or if you’ve always wanted to guide someone with the scent of your own urine, The Good Life is a one-of-a-kind simulation experience. It does a little bit of everything, and it does a lot of things I’ve never seen another game try. It’s weird, wonderful, and genuinely unique.

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