Have you ever wanted to make a career change that you believe you would be excellent at? Did you want to do it for only 2 weeks for someone in your family? If you answered yes, then I don’t know what to tell you, but what I can tell you is that Lake, developed by Gamious and published by Whitethorn Games, will allow you to do this! With beautiful scenery and a small map to navigate, Lake has a casual nature and storytelling that seems comforting, but does it keep the player afloat once they dive in?
A Story To Deliver
In Lake, you play as Meredith Weiss, who lives in an unknown big city, as a contract worker jumping from contract to contract. It’s 1986, and you’ve made plans to take a vacation from your current job to revisit your old town of Providence Oaks. You’ve taken a temporary position as a mail woman for your dad, who’s on vacation with your mom. As you drive around and meet the townspeople, you interact with different characters who remember you as a kid or someone new.
There’s nothing complicated as you progress through the game. There are side missions that are brought to you, but it plays a small part to the story. You have a choice to avoid everything, and still be able to make a decision at the end of the game. Lake allows you to explore but it’s very limited in scope and execution.
You Drive Me Crazy
I can admit that the mail carrier you drive is soothing. You don’t go too fast and it’s quite smooth when driving around and listening to the radio. There isn’t a timer so you can drive around anywhere you like. It also contains an auto-drive mechanic and tags that you can place on the map for the destination you want to go. It doesn’t have arrows or specific ways to get there, so you will constantly look at your map to see which way you’re going. Lake does contain a compass but you’ll barely use it once you learn the map well enough.
Lake gameplay is truly lacking, as the walking speed is slow. It does have a “run” button, but that only makes you walk briskly. When you use auto-drive in the carrier, it stutters here and there. It’ll go normal speed, then slow down drastically before it jumps back up to its normal speed. There’s a side mission that allows you to take pictures, however, the problem with it is that you’re given only 12 pictures, just to test out the feature and then it’s erased from the game. It felt like they tried to bring some variety to the game but they failed on expanding that idea.
When encountering the other characters in the game, you get to choose your dialogue in response, depending on your choice, you can affect the length of the conversation. It’s also the way you can connect to some of the characters for a romantic relationship. It’s a nice idea but sometimes you wish you talked to other characters and interacted with them in other ways.
Sadly, Lake is designed out of redundancy. All you do is drive, deliver, speak to people, and go to your parents house for 12 of the 14 days. You can leave your carrier but that’s only to deliver mail, packages, and side quests. There are intermissions when the game is moving on to the next day but most of it are phone calls. Once you execute these motions for the first time, it just repeats. Same houses, same characters, and the same route with little change.
A Dim Sparkle
That’s not to say this game isn’t enjoyable. Lake is truly a stress reliever for those who need a game to ease them. The 4 hour experience does have some nice touches, but once you do what all it has to offer, the replay value isn’t immediate. It’s colorful in its art, but with character models looking off, all the characters seem unbelievable. I did encounter a glitch where it warped me away from my carrier that was still at the post office. It was a 30 minute walk, even with the “run” button in use. There is fast travel in the game but it limited and doesn’t explain how many times it can be used per day. Also, you have to remember to save often. You can reset your carrier if it gets stuck onto objects so that’s helpful when you’re turning tight spaces. Other than that, Lake runs smoothly when in motion.
A Surprise Package
Lake is an easy game to get into. It’s well paced and relaxing enough that you can beat the game with no worries. With no challenge but with charm, Lake is an adventure you can dive into but sadly, it drops the bag at times, and carries itself downstream from redundancy.
Available for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Steam, Epic
*Thanks to @ LateToGaming for catching the error about fast travel. We have updated the article.
Eddie V. is a co-founder of Boss Rush Games who writes, podcasts, and loves video game trivia. You can find him on Twitter with @thatretrocode.