The Good Life, Swery's weird dogs-and-cats murder mystery, is now on Kickstarter

The Fig crowdfunding campaign for The Good Life, a strange adventure about life, death, and debt repayment in a small English town where people turn into dogs and cats at night, finished with $682,000 in backing, less than half of its $1.5 million goal. But creator Hidetaka "Swery" Suehiro pledged to try again on Kickstarter, and today that new, somewhat different effort sprang to life

The Kickstarter pitch offers more detail about the game than the Fig description did, covering everything from the mundane—how you'll earn money to pay off the debt that drove you from New York City to Rainy Woods in the first place, which is kind of an odd move for someone in desperate need of a job but let's just roll with it for now—to the magical, specifically your ability to transform into an animal. That lycanthropic shift apparently only happens once a month rather than every night as we originally thought, although whether that's a change in design or simply poor wording in the Fig description isn't clear. 

"Turn into a cat and climb up to high places, scratch walls, and steal fish and chips from kitchens... Or turn into a dog and dig holes, follow scents, and swim in rivers and lakes... It only happens once a month, so make sure you enjoy it to your heart's content!" the Kickstarter says. 

"Use your telescope lens to snap shots of targets in areas you can reach as a cat, or get up close to them as a dog and try to acquire the perfect scoop for a scandal photograph. There are some mysteries that only animals can solve! When you turn into one, you'll be able to do new things and adventure into new places." 

Despite stumbling in its first attempt at crowdfunding, it appears that work on The Good Life has continued: A video released just before the start of the Kickstarter comparing the current state of the game with where it was last year shows off some dramatic visual enhancements. It also contains reassurances from Swery that he still loves you all. 

The Kickstarter campaign has a goal of roughly $647,000, far less than what the previous campaign was aiming for and also slightly less than what it ultimately pulled in. That's still no guarantee of success—$279,000 of its Fig total came via "Fig Funds," provided by Fig—and it's also an awfully small amount of money for a game promising as much as The Good Life: An open world with changing seasons (and corresponding special events), an array of ways to earn and spend money, RPG elements like stamina, hunger, sleepiness, and "beauty care" ("Make sure you don't forget to give yourself some special care every morning and every evening. Otherwise, you'll lose your feminine charm and end up as a filthy flytrap!"), and a system of self-regulating townsfolk who behave and interact "based on how you play."  

But the campaign also makes it clear that, even though the project is now "allies" with Sony's Unties publishing label, the base goal won't be enough to actually bring all of that to life. "With games like The Good Life, the fun factor is proportionate to the number of different events, so we need to try and put in as many events as we can and also create a variety of areas for them to happen in. This will cost us, and depending on how things go, we may not be able to include all the events we want to," the "Risks and Challenges" section of the campaign explains. 

"We’ve decided to create multiple plans for the game volume based on how much funding we end up getting. With the lowest volume plan, players will still be able to enjoy a mysterious story, take pictures and earn money, communicate with villagers, and enjoy life in a rural town. On top of that, we’ll also create a schedule for building peripheral elements such as decorations so that the game development will never come to a standstill due to monetary problems. Our staff members have been in the game industry for over 20 years, so we know how to strictly control our schedules." 

The system for autonomous NPCs carries a similar caveat: "This is the first time we’ve tried something like this, but if we manage to complete it, we’ll be able to freely add a ton of variety to the game. The risk is that we won’t know whether or not we can really pull this off until we give it a try."   

Still, the lower funding goal coupled with the far more specific breakdown of the game in the Kickstarter pitch should dramatically improve the chances of a successful campaign. It runs until May 4. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.