Lake is an odd recreation. Constructed as a story-driven expertise, it nonetheless firmly refuses to inform a lot of a narrative. It’s an open world the place you freely drive a automobile round, however built-in security measures hold you from ever bumping into pedestrians or going too far off-road, making certain you are at all times a law-abiding citizen. Lake can also be about characters and dialogue selections, however the selections you make are so low-drama as to barely matter more often than not. And but, towards all odds, Lake can also be a surprisingly intriguing and amusing affair.
Gamers step into the sneakers of Meredith Weiss, a middle-aged software program developer in 1986 who heads again to her tiny hometown to ship mail instead of her father, who’s taking a well-deserved trip after his years within the postman’s truck. As Meredith, you have to ship mail, meet up with folks you haven’t seen since childhood, and discover one thing to occupy your evenings, like studying a ebook, watching TV, or getting along with a good friend.
For the primary couple of hours, I saved anticipating “one thing” to occur. Even realizing the gist of the sport stepping into, it’s virtually arduous to fathom enjoying one thing so bored with grabbing your consideration. After I adjusted to what Lake was placing down, I started to take pleasure in what was occurring. I acquired to know the streets and deliberate an environment friendly supply route. I paused to snap an image of the lake on Meredith’s digicam. I memorized the refrain to that one track I loved on the radio, and began buzzing it as I drove to a parcel supply on the far aspect of the lake.
If you happen to’re anticipating some massive twist, you’ll be upset. At no level will aliens invade the city, and no main drama threatens to tear the agricultural neighborhood aside at its seams. Meredith’s private and inner conflicts quietly unfold over the weeks you spend along with her, but it surely’s all very low-key.
To accuse Lake of being boring is perhaps to overlook the purpose. On a elementary degree, it is boring to drive the identical truck across the similar city on daily basis, delivering packages and letters to the identical homes repeatedly. The small-town folks you meet are typically mildly eccentric however hardly ever share any insights or concepts that actually make you suppose. They’re too busy speaking about their reminiscences of husbands who handed away years in the past or what it’s like working the comfort retailer counter for therefore lengthy.
As I performed, I began to consider Lake as a form of anti-game. The place most video video games are clamoring for consideration and to up your coronary heart charge, Lake goes to nice pains to maintain every part pleasantly sleepy and peaceable. Most storytellers will let you know to leap the narrative between salient moments, leaving the day-to-day doldrums out of the combo, however Lake takes the alternative method.
Simple-listening pop performs from the mail truck’s radio, however there are too few songs to maintain you actually engaged in what you’re listening to. As you stride from the automobile to your eighth supply of the day, you possibly can maintain down a button to hurry up, adjusting Meredith’s tempo from glacially gradual to barely much less glacial. Now and again, Meredith would possibly make a remark concerning the envelopes she’s stuffing into these mailboxes: Handwritten addresses? Perhaps they’re having a celebration. This different pile? Seems like they could have some overdue payments.
Alongside the way in which, it’s the uncomplicated conversations with the townspeople that present moments of curiosity and curiosity. Was the video rental retailer clerk flirting with me, or is she simply effusive? Is my greatest good friend from highschool offended that I haven’t stayed in contact, or is she over it? Who’s wandering by means of that subject over there? If I hassle to cease my truck and stroll over, I meet the native metallic detector fanatic. Does one thing ever come of the assembly? Perhaps, or perhaps not.
In mixture, Lake’s surprisingly repetitive gameplay tells a narrative about quiet lives lived in small locations, the worth present in routine, and the fostering of connections to these with whom one lives.
I’d cease in need of providing a full-throated endorsement and advice; Lake has some technical issues, together with some animation and recreation save points that resulted in some misplaced progress for me. A few of the dialogue feels trite. And lots of character animations occur off-screen, which hurts immersion. Nonetheless, I feel some gamers could discover so much to like in Lake, and I’m certainly one of them. Developer Whitethorn Video games has been very purposeful with Lake, offering an almost stress-free expertise that’s nothing kind of than what it purports to be. Most players have by no means harbored the fantasy of being a small-town mail provider, however I believe the novelty of that concept would possibly carry some enchantment, particularly if most of your recreation time is spent taking pictures aliens, racing automobiles, or leaping between buildings. Lake has none of these issues, and it’s for exactly that motive that it looks like such a nice departure.