18/09/2021

๐Ÿ“ฎ Lake | Xbox Series X | Review | 6.5/10 | "A Break From The City That’s Maybe Too Mellow" ๐Ÿ“ฎ @Lake_The_Game #IndieGames #GameDev

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Lake was a game that really stood out to me when I watched a showcase from the publisher last year. The trailer depicts a woman (Meredith Weiss) taking a two-week break from her busy computing job in a city - the game is set in 1986, so there’s some cool, old tech kicking around - to cover her postman father’s job back in her hometown of Providence Oaks.

A third-person adventure that allows you the freedom to explore the small town and surrounding circular road - the town is at the edge of a huge lake that takes up the majority of the map - Lake is a very casual, slice of life title that is set across the two-week span that Meredith spends at Providence Oaks, reconnecting with the handful of residents, possibly falling in love but certainly delivering mail.

Technically the game is sound, it runs smoothly and looks great with solid voice work and extremely brief loading times, the issues I had with Lake weren’t technical. For the first hour or two, pottering around in the van is relaxing, there’s only one radio station to keep you company and, due to the gentle approach that Lake takes - there’s no damage, time limit or ability to run anyone over – effectively there’s no challenge or threat, this is a very laid back jaunt through middle America.

You wake up, deliver packages and letters whilst talking to the town residents and then in the evenings, decide on who to romance (or not!) whilst having brief telephone conversations with your folks who are having their break in Florida. There are plotlines on reminiscence of childhood, the inevitable forking in individual paths due to what lies beyond adolescence and dealing with change and loss but it’s all presented in a breezy fashion in keeping with the overall tone.

The game has some solid moments, my favourite of which was exploring the local video store and taking stock of the surprising number of videos featuring pun titles that lined the shelves - and seducing the owner, natch. The problem for me was that this level of immersion doesn’t really exist elsewhere. There’s nothing to do or discover, no sense of progress beyond the basic main routine and it really wasn’t enough to keep me engaged. After a couple of hours, driving the same circular route whilst listening to what seemed like two or three looped songs on the sole radio station made the game morph from peaceful and calming to boring and repetitive.

I watched a film a few months ago called The Secret: Dare to Dream starring Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas about two people that slowly fall in love as he fixes her roof, Lake gave me the same vibes with its light dialogue and focus on innocence and inoffensiveness.

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