Perusing GamePass introduces me to a lot of games I’ve never heard of. There are titles with premises so obscure and random you wonder how the game made it into the world. Some have been delightful finds that I excitedly share here… and others have been like Lake. This game is an easy way to pad your gamerscore and it has a rudimentary structure that makes it accessible to anyone… but is it worth playing?
Have you dreamed of becoming a middle-aged woman who delivers mail and calls things a “hoot and a half”? Look no further than Lake! In this mail-delivering simulator, you play as Meredith, a plain bland lady livin’ it up in the 80s, filling in for her postman father who is on vacation. Despite the lengthy, less-than-interactive cutscenes the game starts with, it’s not really clear why the town has called in the mailman’s daughter rather than another postal worker. Doesn’t matter, we don’t have this exhilarating game if we focus too much on the details and logic in this setup.
You spend your days driving around town delivering mail and packages. Nosey Meredith will occasionally comment on people’s mail in between crushingly-long cutscenes of bland conversation with random townspeople. It’s riveting stuff, especially when you look deep into the eyes of each character and see how full of life they all are. They’re reacting to environments and acting like real people. Even the background characters have been thoughtfully cultivated.
The game tries to push you into quirky conversations and have you rebuild relationships with people you knew before you left to make your fortune in the big city. You’ll find yourself facing moochers and people from your past that we are supposed to care about. Truth be told, I could get into the character’s head and try to imagine how I might react to those circumstances, but I chose to keep to my real-life persona: I don’t want to hang out. I turn down all plans; I want to go home and read a book. Goodnight! (I do make exceptions for helping cats though).
I am pushing closer to the end of the game and it will ask me to make one critical decision for one final question: what does Meredith’s future hold? Lake tries to throw really random weird situations in your lap to try and spark a connection between you and this sleepy town. As much as I love the idea of living in a town like this, the pushy, needy citizens put a bad taste in my mouth. On top of everyone coming up to me with their hand out, I’ve got Meredith contemplating inviting a teenage girl over to watch a scary movie (and not telling her parents). I don’t know what Meredith is up to, but she goes back-and-forth between being a hokey grandma-type and being a curt lady getting caught up in crime. Plus, for as nosey as she is about everyone’s mail, she sure has nothing to say about this chainsaw-shaped package being delivered to a ransacked cabin in the middle of the woods.
For as bland as this game is, I’m still playing it. Why? Because sometimes, just empty, easy ways of checking boxes feels good. Sometimes you want to play a game with no stakes, no consequences, and no pressure. Deliver the mail. That’s it. You can put on auto-pilot and let the game drive you around, or you can choose to drive yourself. Despite being behind the wheel of a big death machine, there are no consequences if you choose to not follow the rules of the road. You can still go GTA jr. in it, but with no physics-breaking chaos as a result.
I can’t say I recommend this game despite how often I’ve been loading into it lately. Truth be told, some nights I don’t have the mental energy to do anything, but I still want to play something. Lake has pretty houses and scenery filled with empty people populating the world. It’s fun to look at even if it’s not the most exciting story or gameplay. Plus, if you’re lucky, you’ll even occasionally spot a fox running across the road. You can chase him without worrying about accidentally hurting him. Even if you hit him with your truck, he’ll escape without any trouble.
I’m not recommending you play this game, but I do want to share what it’s like playing a game like this. Has Lake captured your attention? Have you explored this world already? Share your thoughts below!