Welcome to yet another indie game spotlight. There are so many indie games to talk about that we could write an article for one of them every day, and we won’t even be close to being done in the next ten years. That’s the magic of these small-scale darlings; they have so much potential, are so unique, and are made so quickly that they keep coming and keep us entertained while their bigger brothers, the AAA games, are cooking in the oven. Today’s game is “Lake.”
What Is ‘Lake’?
“Lake” is truly one of a kind and is a game you can play to simply chill. The game was set in 1986, and you take control of Meredith Weiss. Meredith is a qualified engineer living her life in the big city and working on a very big project when she decides to take a break and help her parents out by going back to the town she grew up in, Providence Oaks, Oregon. Meredith’s parents leave on vacation, and she steps in to take care of their house and temporarily works her dad’s job as a mailman (woman). The setup to that game is really that simple, and that’s why this game stands out to me, as it doesn’t have an overarching story or some sort of omega plot brewing in the background. It’s just about Meredith connecting back with the place she grew up in, the people she grew up with, and delivering mail across the town. You’ll spend two weeks in Providence Oaks as Meredith and will fulfill the requirements of each day by delivering the designated mail across town. Some are letters and others are packages, and you get to drive around town in a mail truck, check the mail and which addresses they belong to, and drive up to their front porch and hand them their mail.
Along the way, you’ll encounter some of the residents of Providence Oaks and reconnect with old friends like the owner of the diner, Maureen, or Meredith’s best friend, Kay Evans, from her school days. You’ll have conversations with these people and reminisce about the old days. Meridith will also make friends with some of the new and colorful folks that arrived here after you left for the big city. Sometimes you’ll also be helping them by delivering Mrs. Jenkins’ sick cat to the doctor (a fisherman) or by helping Robert, the lumberjack, convince the town and the government not to commercialize this town. The local postmaster and Meridith’s dad’s best friend, Frank Coleman, will guide and help you throughout the two weeks, and you will also interact a lot with a young mechanic girl named Lori, whom Meridith befriends. As you interact with these people and learn more about them, you’ll get the chance to extinguish some old flames or bitterness while making new memories. You also have two people with whom you can involve Meridith romantically: Robert, the lumberjack, and the owner of the local VHS store, Angie Eastman. A young and hip California girl who loves movies more than anything and is one of the most memorable characters in the game. As I mentioned in the beginning, the game is about spending a couple of weeks in this local town and becoming one with it, with no overarching conflict or end-of-the-world plot hanging in the background. A simple, memorable, and grounded journey across a town built around a lake and the story of its people. There will be ups and downs throughout the journey, and in the end, you’ll have the choice to stay here, leave and go back to the big city, or leave in a caravan towards unknown horizons. A peaceful journey of connection and finding yourself awaits you if you play “Lake.”
The gameplay is also very simple, with some dialogue choices in conversations, lots of walking around and delivering mail, and, of course, lots of driving the truck from point A to point B. The map is really small, and you’ll have the houses, addresses, and each and every location memorized in no time. You’ll start feeling like you have been living in this town for years and are one of its citizens, and that’s the one quality of “Lake” that I love above everything else. It helps you familiarize yourself with the environment and the people who inhabit it so quickly and easily that you feel you have been here forever.
Should You Play ‘Lake’?
Yes. Absolutely, you should play this game. Games like this are rare to find, even in the indie genre. “Lake” just lets you be; you boot this game up and let go of all the issues surrounding you and just become part of this world. As I said earlier, “Lake” is a relaxing and chill game, and it asks nothing of you. The game just wants you to take a load off and live your life in Providence Oaks. I have never lived in a small town in my life, but this game makes me want to live in one. Plus, the fact that it takes place in a time before technology took off makes me wonder how simple, easy, fun, and connected life was back in the day. Things are even simpler, easier, more fun, and more connected today thanks to technology, but the simpler times do sound and look interesting and serene when compared to the lives we live today.
As for the completion time, you can beat the game in 10 to 15 hours, and there’s no need to rush this one. Take your time and explore all you can in the two weeks the game takes place. Achievement hunters: every single achievement in this game is missable, but at the same time, they are incredibly simple and easy. Just take a look at the list, and you’ll know what to do and when to do it. The achievement completion won’t add any extra time to your completion time, and you can easily 100% this game in the aforementioned 10 hours.
“Lake” is available for $19.99 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 5 and 4, and PC. This game knows how to channel nostalgia and give you a glimpse into a world that you feel familiar with despite not having been around in that era or knowing nothing about it. That quality makes this game one that is comforting, rare, and relaxing all at once. You feel at home when you play “Lake.”