Lake PC Review

Lake is like a movie that is seven hours and a few chores too long.

By Yagmur, Posted 06 May 2022

Visual novels are almost always a hit or miss. They are supposed to be the best of both worlds, in theory: The marriage of novel and game. Two very fun things that have a merged pool of enjoyers. But this can also be a curse, as much as a blessing. You either love it or leave it. And Gamious Studios’ latest game Lake is no exception to that.

Lake can be described as a mailman simulator. This is exactly what it is- The gameplay consists of walking around the town, delivering mail and parcels, and sparking up a small conversation every once in a while. Yes, there is a story being told here but the story is not supported by the gameplay, hence, the visual novel aspect of it. You merely go from point A to point B and chase after the story.

Lake, Gamious, Game review, Indie games, Relaxing

In Lake, we follow Meredith Weiss, who is a woman that works as a programmer in the ripe age of 1986 and has taken a few days off of her tedious job to visit the town where she grew up. Set in somewhere in Oregon, the small town of Providence Oaks. She decides to take up her father’s job as a mailman and go from house to house, to deliver their mail. During her break, she not only reunites with her old neighbors but she also gets to create a whole new network of people for herself.

This game is supposed to be relaxing, and it surely is. From the gameplay to the very design of the game, everything that makes up this game is created specifically to be simple. This simplicity is needed for a game that aims to relax because it is only this way that the developers can lift a huge burden out of the players’ shoulders: Learning the mechanics. It is so simple; you just deliver mail and talk to a few people. That is all. As far as the game design is concerned, as someone who can get lost a lot, I know what it is like to find my way through a complicated map, only to see that I have missed a shorter route. In Lake, however, this is not a concern because the map is just a circle. So yes, it is relaxing in this sense.

However, to pick up a game like this you have to be in a certain mindset. This game is a chore. Walking is too slow (so slow that the players wrote a code to make it faster), driving is too slow, and there is no skipping option in the dialogue. Of course, there is a fast-travel option, if you want to be a cheater and miss all the fun of hitting other cars while driving.


Lake, Game, Review, Relaxing, Indie Game, Gamious
 

Speaking of the dialogue, it is not entirely. The game tries to pull an RPG here and let the player choose what Meredith should say at a certain point in the dialogue, but the options are almost all the same. This is especially the case in romantic storylines. It looks like you have an option, but you do not. Even if you do not want this romance to take place, you are kind of forced into it. It is very clear from the beginning that Lake is not an RPG. It is a visual novel that expects you to go from a very certain route. If the options are not much different from each other, what is the purpose of having them?

The NPCs that you encounter, however, are wonderful. The city is alive, and not everything spins around you. For instance, while driving by the woods, I encountered someone with a metal detector and proceeded to talk to him. I could have entirely missed this interaction if I drove by without looking around. This interaction came naturally. This is exactly the type of encounter that elevates the world of a game. Most triple-A games fail to create a natural and alive environment, and Lake can do just that.

Let’s just get this out of the way: The story is great. The game aims to tell a story that feels like you are watching a movie. It is just seven hours and a few chores too long. There is nothing big about it, you are not saving the world or the neighborhood from a big bad guy. It is a simple story about Meredith’s two-week vacation. It is a great slice-of-life drama, one that is just enough. You do not want or expect more from it, it is just what it is. The game distracts you from your complicated life and introduces you to a relatively simple, monotonous vacation of Meredith Weiss.


Lake, Review, Game, Gamious, Indie, Relaxing
 

Lake is somewhat of a new game; it has been released in 2021 but the graphics make the game look straight out of a PlayStation 3. This is not entirely a bad thing. Yes, indeed Lake is not extraordinarily good-looking but this, once again, contributes to the simplicity that it aims for. The game is in the middle looking realistic and cartoonish. It is not on the edge of either end. It is simple enough to understand and navigate through. One complaint would be that it is way too generic of an art style now- many games make use of it, I assume because it is easier this way.

Let us reiterate once again that Lake was released in 2021. Just last year. Meaning that the studio had plenty of time to fix the bugs and glitches. I am in no position to know whether the release of Lake was so bad that they were able to fix it to the point where it is now, but I can tell you that in my playthrough, there were so many bugs. Some of them were merely frustrating like Meredith not picking up a parcel despite clicking on it more than once or not delivering the mail the way she is supposed to. But some bugs were game-breaking, and these made me take a step back. Had the game been released just now, this would have been fine. But it is comparatively old, and having more than a few bugs is not pleasant, to say the least.



 

In short, Lake is exactly what it promises to be: A relaxing routine for you to step away from your fast life. Every single aspect of Lake is there to simplify the experience, to make it easier to get through. But it becomes boring so soon, and there is no replay value. The NPCs are great, but the dialogue options are not at all good. They are mostly aimless. On top of that, the bugs are incredibly frustrating sometimes. Lake is not a game that I can recommend to everyone; but if you need some routine and stability in your daily life, you may want to check it out.
 

Yagmur Sevinc (@yagmursevvinc)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Lake

50/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, Switch
Publisher(s): Gamious, Whitethorn Games, Whitethorn Digital LLC
Developer(s): Gamious
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Interactive Drama
Release Date: 2021-09-01

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