Lake review – a small-town drama about delivering post in a picturesque place | Games

When Meredith Weiss – a 44-year-old computer programmer with a demanding job a pushy boss – returns to Providence Oaks, the small lake town in which she grew up, she thinks she’s only going to be covering her father’s mail route for two weeks. But actually … no, wait, that’s exactly what does happen. There’s no big twist in this gentle slice-of-life game about driving around a beautiful, entirely unremarkable American environment in a post van. I kept waiting for something a bit Twin Peaks to happen, or for some small-town drama to bubble up into something more exciting, but it never did. You deliver the post, you talk to residents, you gently examine Meredith’s life choices. Once you abandon expectations for some action sink into the daily rhythm, it’s a relaxing time.

I am a terrible mail person, though. I drive on the wrong side of the road, crash into things constantly, park in the middle of the street. Thankfully, nobody really cares; the van can’t get damaged, you can’t drive into the lake, you can’t run anybody over. If you’re the kind of person who actually tries to follow traffic laws in GrTheft Auto, this will be your vibe. Set in 1986, the game keeps things to a very small cast of characters – Meredith’s childhood best friend, the farmer who’s also local radio DJ, a lumberjack, the owner of the new VHS store in town – the rekindled relationships between them. Supporting actors such as Meredith’s boss her parents are only ever heard over the telephone.

This keeps the story focused and, of course, the development costs down. There are a lot of quick cuts here in place of animations – the game fades briefly to black when getting in out of the van, for instance – it can be pretty buggy: sometimes conversations ended abruptly, or I would load a save to find the van spinning its wheels vainly on its side. But time money have clearly been directed towards Providence Oaks itself, a collection of quaint houses, pretty trees quiet roads around an expanse of shining water, beautiful under changing skies weather. It’s a good-looking place to drive around for a few hours, listening to country songs played on the local radio (or, if country music makes you come out in hives, a soothing ambient soundtrack).

Through Meredith’s reconnected friendships (a couple of nascent romances), the gently mundane business of delivering parcels, scenic drives, Lake meditates on the virtues of the quiet life over the big city, reaches no gror revelatory conclusions. It’s a simple story. But then, that’s rather the point.

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