Parents' Guide to

The Good Life

By Angelica Guarino, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Nonsensical, clunky tale still has moments of fun.

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What you will—and won't—find in this game.

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While the idea of taking a casual RPG (role-playing game) and adding a ton of absurdity is immediately fun, the nonsensical plot and clunky moments hamper your experience. The opportunity to play as both a cat and a dog as well as a human character in The Good Life is clever as part of a small-town mystery, so players in search of something new will be intrigued. Whether they will stay interested, though, depends on their tolerance for technical and structural flaws. Gamers already familiar with past titles of Japanese game director Hidetaka Suehiro (aka "Swery") will find themselves right at home in this narrative anarchy. So what if the plot is disjointed and nonsensical? Name one other casual RPG where players can scale a building Assassin's Creed-style while playing as a cute little cat whose form has a designated "meow" button? That's right, you can't.

But while this title is worth rewarding for its weirdness and risk-taking, some aren't as successful as others. Swery has come under fire in recent years for his handling of transgender characters in past games. He's insisted that this came not from a place of hate but rather from imperfect cultural translations between Japanese and English. His apology comes with a dedicated effort to re-write scenes in past games which have come off insensitively and create more positive representations of diversity. In The Good Life, it doesn't look as if Swery has completely changed his writing style to avoid potentially offensive jokes entirely, but has rather simply changed his targets. ​For instance, there are references to alcoholism that are played for comedy, and these can feel as if they've crossed a line. In addition, there are some suggestive themes, particularly referring to the relationship between Elizabeth Dickens and her half-brother William which feel totally unnecessary to the plot. For adults, it's easy to write off these instances as jokes that don't quite land and be able to move on, but younger players may be affected by mentions of these topics a bit more deeply.

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