Get ready to step back into 1986 in the small town of Providence Oaks Oregon. You play Merideth Weiss, a big city programmer who goes back home for 2 weeks to take over for her father as a mail carrier. As you’re there you get to meet new and old friends alike, solve town problems and maybe fall in love. If you choose to do that.
I played with mouse and keyboard but this does feel like a controller would be the preferable way to play. Maybe on my 2nd playthrough, I’ll try that. The mouse just whips the camera around way too fast. However, Lake ran well with no crashes even with how buggy it can be sometimes. The town AI isn’t perfect but they do obey traffic laws, stay on the roads or sidewalks, and don’t run you over.
Providence Oaks is a small town in Oregon. It’s the idyllic small town we have either been to/ grew up in or have seen in the media. Lake is bathed in simple yet thoughtful visuals like a mix of the harry potter phone game and the epic Fortnite style. This is usually off-putting to me however it works well here. It’s also very hard to not think of Alan Wake in this town while playing. The setup is almost the same. A small town surrounding a lake with cabins and amenities branching out around it. There’s even a writer in one of the remote cabins that you deliver a package to. A nice little nod.
Lake is weirdly slow yet also too fast at times. The days are long and delivering the packages can take a bit but the nights are quickly over. There are a few options on what you can do at night like go on a date, watch movies or read. Yet you never get to interact with those moments unless it’s choosing dialogue. It makes you wish the nights were longer and you could do more like go for night walks, or go to the diner and play the arcade game or have some pie on your own.
A Talented Yet Shallow Mix
While the nights leave me wanting to interact with the town itself more, the voice acting leaves me thoroughly satisfied. There are a few times that it’s a little stilted but that is down to the audio engineering, not the voice actors. Meredith was a likable character with a range of emotions in her voice depending on the dialogue options you chose. It’s really easy to see that the VO cast knew what they were doing in the booth.
This is a slowdown and enjoy the story type of game. The gameplay is you delivering packages in your mail truck goose. You talk to people around town and you can choose to help them with problems or ignore them. However, that would be a boring way to play the game. You can take photos around town and even enter one in a photo contest.
I had a bug where I was talking with Lori at the gas station and it teleported us to Mo’s diner. It left the mail truck at the gas station and Lori was stuck in her working animation in front of the arcade machine. Good thing you can fast travel to a point and be in the truck otherwise that probably would have been where I ended the review. It would have easily been a 20 walk back to the truck from the game bugging out.
This game had me obeying traffic laws most of the time. I don’t know how it was doing it either. There are no consequences for hitting things or running off the road. You can even reset the truck if it gets stuck. Yet I was checking both ways and stopping at stop signs. There is an auto-drive mode which is a bit buggy honestly the most problems with driving came from the auto-drive mode. The truck can run off the road, spin in place or get stuck behind other AI traffic or even clip through traffic and get flung across the map. There is also fast travel which does help cut a lot of the mindless driving back and forth out. The map is a great size to drive around but the first few days when I hadn’t built a route in my head there was a lot of driving around aimlessly.
Slow Down and Appreciate The World
Lake holds so much replayability in the story there are multiple endings available and multiple dialogue options. You can choose to help out or ignore people. Reconnect or remain isolated. You also have a planner to keep track of everything but I found that you can say yes to everything and it never conflicts. You can even choose to fall in love, from what I’ve seen I think there are only 2 love interests but I could be wrong there. It would be a real disservice to not play this multiple times and with its relatively short length at 6 and a half hours (at least that’s what it took me for 1 playthrough) it’s not a chore to get through it.
I will definitely be replaying this. It’s not that I was upset with my ending, I chose what my heart wanted and what I’d more than likely choose in real life but I loved the time I got to spend in this little town. I want to see what more of the story I can explore.
The game isn’t perfect. It has clipping issues here and there and some buggy AI or glitches here and there. I do wish it had a better soundtrack as well. They don’t need to go licensing the hits of the ’80s but something would have been better than the same few songs you hear over and over. There are some great indie artists as well that could have made banging 80’s sounding songs.
However, Lake is an immensely enjoyable game with good writing, great voice acting, and the ability to tell a story that keeps you hooked. It is a tad shallow at times but it did what it set out to do in my opinion. It makes you slow down, evaluate life and enjoy a simplistic game. There are twists, mail caring, love if you want, and a small American town to explore. I feel you should play this little indie game and if you have or will let me know in the comments section.
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