Welcome to Goodland Preview – The Start of a Slippery Slope

Welcome to Goodland gives you a brief taste of a man slipping into the crime world. Potentially catastrophic story decisions and tough business decisions rear their head as the pressure mounts. It’s a short but challenging experience that makes you wonder what happens next.

Welcome to Goodland Preview: The Start Of A Slippery SlopeWhat happens when an ordinary, law-abiding man is blackmailed into a life of crime? That’s the premise Welcome to Goodland chooses to investigate, and it does a great job. While you only have a short amount of time, you are already making dangerous decisions that put your life at risk. Your family, friends, and your life’s work are all in the crossfire, and how you proceed determines what happens.

It’s not an easy game to learn right away, and the tutorials have some weak points. But the temptation to continue is there, and uncertainty begins to creep in. Do you want to know how the situation resolves itself, or do you like the life of crime?

Welcome to Goodland will be available on PC on April 28, 2023.

Welcome to Goodland | Prologue Trailer

Story – Stumbling Into Trouble

The story of Welcome to Goodland begins with Eddie Taylor, checking on his friend Ralph on a normal trip in the woods. One thing leads to another, and both men find a large sum of money in a cabin. Unfortunately, that money belongs to the local crime gangs, and Eddie must launder it under the threat of death.

Unlike most protagonists in the crime genre, such as Cartel Tycoon, Eddie is just a regular person. He runs a charity, is in a loving relationship with his wife, and interacts with the community. Eddie isn’t ready for the laundering operation and seeks help from his friend Jerome, who has the knowledge. From there, he must grow his operation to launder $50,000 in a week or he dies.

None of this was intentional, and he wants out.

None of this was intentional, and he wants out.

One strength of Welcome to Goodland is that it doesn’t shy away from the effects of crime on regular life. Eddie is constantly nervous and the people around him sense this. Drastic ideas don’t sound ridiculous because the threat of death is worse. Suspicious actions cause Eddie to doubt others in his life and the intentions of others. You clearly see Eddie struggle with his new circumstances, and you feel that contrast. None of what you are doing is legal, and Eddie wants out. But he can’t get out, and dealing with that contrast eats at him.

The story doesn’t last too long, and it ends just as Eddie gets out of his first predicament. But it’s clearly not his last, and you have no idea how the story ends. You want to know if the choices you make have consequences, or what is affected because you chose differently. It’s a shame that your actions aren’t further explored, but it’s great to see that the story is just getting started.

Gameplay – Shaking Down the Local Community

Welcome to Goodland doesn’t involve any secret operations or underground laboratories. When Jerome teaches you how to play, you ask local businesses to help you launder money. From there, you expand your empire in order to launder large amounts of money and meet your target.

Your goal is to nurture your operations by bringing more businesses in and helping them make more money. As businesses become more successful, you can upgrade them to bring in more income.

Gameplay is simple, just like Rogue AI Simulator. You aren’t doing too many complex operations and are ensuring your money is being laundered properly. The meat of the gameplay comes from the decisions you make to keep your business running. Some decisions, such as borrowing money from the gang cartels, are tough to make. Others, such as questioning Eddie’s wife about missing money, can have repercussions in the future.

People catch on to your actions, but you don't have a choice.

People catch on to your actions, but you don’t have a choice.

Many of these consequences aren’t seen since the game only lasts one week. But each decision you make does linger on your mind. Is it right to take a suspicious donation? Should you pay that local crime boss? Is it worth ruining your marriage for the sake of money? Welcome to Goodland doesn’t shy away from presenting you with choices, making you think carefully about your next move.

Learning to play isn’t difficult either, and Jerome is happy to take you through more content, which sets up the rest of the game. While the tutorials get you set up properly, some information does fall through the cracks.

Tutorials – Not the Full Story

It is easy to start, but you must improve to meet your deadline. A few parts are simple, such as acquiring more businesses. Upgrading businesses is where the details start disappearing.

There are “sliders” you can select to curate businesses and improve their operations, but they don’t function as sliders. Instead, you select squares on certain categories and try to get closer to the optimal amount. It’s not bad, but you wouldn’t expect that when instructions point to a “slider”.

If businesses are too scared of you, they will leave.

If businesses are too scared of you, they will leave.

You can also increase the number of agents working for you by hiring them for a fee. There is only one to hire in the beginning, but the fee is high for the amount you can afford. It’s implied the daily fee is smaller, which falls through the cracks. Not all details are vital to meeting the deadline, but it does feel like a better explanation would help avoid some common mistakes.

Audio & Visuals – Everything Is Normal?

A great part of Welcome to Goodland is that everything looks and sounds normal. Nothing seems out of place, even though in your mind it’s clear that you’re engaging in illegal activities. The background music doesn’t sound suspicious, and no building looks out of place. Contrasting the normality of your environment with the feeling of being a criminal is well done, and is difficult to forget.

This is just two men meeting to find a way out of their situation.

This is just two men meeting to find a way out of their situation.

Other crime games make no effort to hide their actions, and it works in their favour. But Welcome to Goodland subverts that by making you live with the contrast, which works as well. Nothing is out of place or unusual, with every location being a place you could encounter in your local neighborhood. Sounds and music do reflect the mood of the situation, but it never gets nefarious or ambitious. At the end of the day, Eddie Taylor is just trying to get out of a mess and return to normal life. Reflecting that desire, nothing looks or sounds criminal, though whether that remains the case depends on future content.

Welcome to Goodland was previewed on PC with a code provided by Big City Lab.

Welcome to Goodland is an interesting take on the crime genre, highlighting a man who wants to get out quickly. It’s not a difficult game to pick up and learn, and the gameplay forces you to make some tough decisions. While the consequences of your actions aren’t seen, the foundation is in place for an interesting story. As gameplay continues to involve more operations and consequences roll in, the makings of a unique crime game are firmly established.
  • Promising storyline with future consequences
  • Gameplay that is easy to learn and implement
  • Unique stance of trying to leave the crime world
  • Tutorial can fall short in a few places

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