The Xbox Game Pass is doing its damned best to get me to subscribe to it. I’ve avoided it mostly because I already have the majority of the back catalogue there and haven’t wanted to sign myself up for yet another subscription service. Still I can’t deny the value there for most and indeed it seems to be getting some games air time that they might otherwise have missed out on. This is how Lake came to my attention with a Kotak article telling me “not to sleep” on it. With that legitbait title enough to get me to check out the trailer I honestly feel somewhat ashamed that I missed it in the first place as it’s the kind of game I’m usually in on the ground level for. My experience with Lake which, whilst very competent from a story and general construction perspective, taught me more about how the experience around a game can mean as much as the game itself.

Meredith Weiss, computer programmer extraordinaire, has agreed to come back to her hometown after 22 years to help out her dad. He hasn’t had a holiday for almost his entire life, mostly because he’s one of the few postal workers in Providence Oaks, and Meredith has agreed to take his place whilst he kicks up his heels in Florida. What follows is a homecoming story, one where you find out how your little hometown has (or hasn’t in some cases) changed, reflect on your eternally busy life and figure out what you want your future to be.

Lake uses the tried and true low poly, low texture art style that we’ve all become very familiar with. The character stylings reminded me a lot of Ocotdad and Speaking Simulator, which gave me weird vibes for a good long while before the narrative kicked into high gear. There’s probably a little bit more polish to do on the game in some sections, with shadows suddenly changing when you move the camera around and the asset pop-in rather noticeable even with the draw distance turned up as high as it could go. There’s also the incredibly stiff animations, which sometimes don’t trigger properly, which could add a little more depth to the experience. Still though the graphics do what they need to do: transport you to Providence Oaks with all its colourful characters.

I’ve given Lake the Walking Simulator tag as it mostly fits into there, not really being a fully fledged mail delivery sim or anything of the sort. Still the game’s mechanics center on you delivering the mail, including packages, to the good folk of Providence Oaks. Each day you’ll be given a route and left to your own as to how to get everything delivered. Along the way you’ll interact with plenty of different folk, some you’ll remember from childhood and others who you will get to know soon enough. What unfolds each day is a number of activities that let you control the overarching narrative of the game, developing your own story of what Meredith’s time back home means to her.

Whilst the mail delivery system works exceptionally well for driving the story forward you do get to a point where you’re just running out the clock on each of the days. To be sure there were some narratives I didn’t explore, but it did certainly feel like the mail delivery mechanic was padding for a good chunk of the game’s play time. The developers have stated in interviews that they want gamers to tackle it at their own pace, and to be sure some people will love pottering around the town just for the sake of it, but for people like me who are just keen to drive the narrative forward it can make the postal delivering grind feel quite hollow. It also probably didn’t help that exploring and visiting people when you didn’t need to never amounted to much, maybe a line or two of dialogue, meaning that taking the extra time to do that simply wasn’t worth it.

All that being said however what really started to draw me in was when some of the in-game narrative started to parallel heavily with my own life. I just happened to end up chatting to a long time friend of mine during the course of the playthrough, reminiscing about a road trip we shared and then spending a good couple hours sending lyrics to late 90s/early 2000s pop songs to each other. This was just at the same time that you really (if you wanted to, of course) reconnect with your friends from long ago in the game, and it really struck an emotional chord for me.


The game’s overall narrative is a charming one, if a little haphazard in its execution of certain elements. For instance one of the romances seemingly reaches a pivotal moment and you kind of expect it to start developing more over the days following it. Thing is, it doesn’t, the character becomes completely unavailable and you’re kind of left hanging. Now there are in-game reasons for all of that, but it does then make the development that does happen later on feel a little rushed. Indeed I think it’d be similar for the other romance option that’s available, given that I did everything for it as soon as I could and only had a similar amount of time left over for it to further develop.

That being said the other individual story threads are handled well, the main characters given enough time to develop properly and make you care about the outcome. Here the game does well too, giving you a lot of control over the minutiae of the story. Honestly it’s kind of funny to see storylines that you’ve been following for some time to still have options to nope the fuck out of them right at the pinnacle moment, should you want to choose that for whatever reason. That being said there’s only 3 different endings, although I’m not sure if they play out slightly differently if you choose some particular options.


To me Lake was much more than just the game I played. It showed that things like the Xbox Game Pass can be worth it if it means that some games that didn’t get a ton of exposure the first time around get another look in from an audience that might not have bothered otherwise. I saw how a game that parallels you current experiences can hit a lot deeper than it otherwise would. Finally it showed that, even with a mechanic I grew tired of, I could still find a lot of value in the narrative. It’s the first game of its kind from Gamious and I’m hoping the success they’ve had with this one pushes them to create more.

Rating: 9.0/10

Lake is available on PC, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch right now for $28.95. Game was played on the PC with a total of 5.4 hours playtime and 50% of the achievements unlocked.

About the Author

David Klemke

David is an avid gamer and technology enthusiast in Australia. He got his first taste for both of those passions when his father, a radio engineer from the University of Melbourne, gave him an old DOS box to play games on.

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