Lake, the tried and true of a relaxing postal adventure

Lake, the tried and true of a relaxing postal adventure


The excellent Summer Game Fest Demo initiative organized by Xbox allows you to try 40 trial versions of as many indie games in development, and among these we were particularly fascinated by Lake. It is a narrative adventure all based on relaxed rhythms, dialogue and trips by the lake to deliver the mail in the charming town of Providence Oaks, Oregon. The basic concept is precisely the fact of immersing ourselves in the atmosphere of a remote country in the American hinterland, rediscovering the slow and reflective mood of a place that seems to have remained outside the fast pace typical of large urban centers, further marked by the choice of setting the story in the 1980s, therefore still far from social and technological influences, moving in weight to a sleepy province that seems to have remained crystallized in its daily habits.

In Lake we play Meredith Weiss, a temporary postwoman in Providence Oaks This creates a perfect parallel with the protagonist of the story: Meredith Weiss left the town of Providence Oaks to go to college, MIT, and is now employed in a big city as a programmer, a pioneer of software development. With the work on an important application just concluded, he decided to allow himself two weeks of total detachment from his standard rhythms, accepting his father's request for help both to allow his parents to be able to take a vacation, and just to get away momentarily from overwork and city life.

In this sense, the impact with the slow and quiet progress of the country is twofold, affecting both Meredith and the player himself, who, used to close action or goals to be completed with great difficulty, finds himself easily disoriented, when he discovers that he simply has to deliver letters and parcels around a town by the lake, driving a pickup truck at a very slow pace.

For this reason, too, our Lake trial proved to be a very interesting experience.

The intense life of the provincial postman

After the short prologue that tells the premise of the story, namely the return to Providence Oaks to take the temporary place of postman and granting the father of the protagonist (but also Meredith herself) a well-deserved vacation, we are immediately introduced to the art of delivering mail, actually a job not too complex at least for how it is presented in the game. It involves leaving the post office every morning with a load of parcels and letters, checking the addresses of the recipients and delivering them by driving the official truck around the placid streets of the town, which wind along the shores of the lake.

The gameplay is all here and offers practically no elements of challenge: the only thing to pay attention to is the constant control of the map to be able to orient yourself and the fact of stopping at the planned stages to deliver letters and packages, but basically there is no possibility of making mistakes, suffering damage, not making it in time or whatever. From this point of view, Lake dismantles all the typical features of standard video games and proposes a simple wandering through the streets and paths in search of the addresses to which to deliver the mail.

The gameplay of Lake simply requires us to deliver the post The only moment of interaction that allows you to make choices are the dialogues with the characters we meet around, which can open different paths and perhaps lead to different consequences, even if the demo, for the moment, does not allow us to deepen more than this aspect.

We therefore recognize, in principle, two different phases in the gameplay: that of the exploration of the map, which is essentially contemplative, focused on finding the roads but above all on enjoying the views and listening to the music provided by the 'only radio station present in the area, and the interaction with the various characters at the time of delivery of the mail or in other situations that we may encounter during the working day. In these cases we are faced with the more purely narrative phases, in which we discover something more about the inhabitants of Providence Oaks, about the country in general and also about the protagonist herself, who often finds herself recalling the memories of childhood and past youth. by the lake.

Lake views and assorted thoughts

Meredith will have to choose whether to reconnect with the past The particular atmosphere that reigns in Lake is the basic feature of the game, what it marks more the experience of this strange postman simulation. This is a rather bold idea because this title has practically no typical video game elements, neither from the point of view of gameplay nor of narration, not aligning itself with any known genre or sub-genre. Faced with a practically non-existent challenge, given the lack of dangers or special skills required to complete deliveries (beyond a basic ability to drive the truck on the roads and read the map), even the story is not pervasive. , but rather scattered, although it remains constantly suspended in the background. Basically, Lake is neither a game with some remnants of action nor a visual novel, given the fragmentary nature of the narrative that takes place above all through dialogues and moments of relaxation at home at the end of the work shift. This does not mean that there is no story behind the relaxing wandering through the country roads in search of recipients to deliver the mail to, because this is very present, but at times resurfaces through a rhythm, also in this case, slow and reflective. .

The most purely narrative phases are concentrated at the end of the day or in various encounters along the way The story is fragmented, sometimes hidden somewhat deeply under apparently superficial dialogues, but slowly builds a story and also defines the figure by Meredith herself, which is initially outlined in a deliberately vague way to be studied calmly, between memories, introspections and future perspectives. The way in which we decide to behave with others, given the possibility of having compliant approaches or not, opens up different paths and probably changes the bond with the country and with the protagonist's past. We find ourselves trying to reconnect with old acquaintances or cut ties and keep distances as much as possible, through choices that probably have important consequences in the continuation of the story, but that we can only evaluate once faced with the final version. br>
All this is staged with a graphic style of considerable impact: it is a typically "low poly" characterization to which we are quite accustomed by now, but the care placed in the chromatic choices, in the study of the frames, in the reconstruction of architecture and natural environments typical of 1980s Oregon manages to create a truly magical atmosphere. To this also contributes an audio accompaniment that counts on an excellent level dubbing (currently it is completely in English, both the spoken and the lyrics) and a series of licensed songs ranging from pop to country, obviously referring to the period in which unfolds the story.

Lake presents itself as one of the most particular experiences among the numerous indies of great interest to keep an eye on in the coming months. It is essentially an interactive story that winds through the streets and views of a lakeside town in the Oregon 80s hinterland, all played on the atmosphere and relaxation it is able to inspire. In the history of Meredith and her hometown, in the choices to be made on the reconstruction or the cutting of relations with one's past, an interesting and intimate plot emerges, which can speak very closely to the players.


Wonderful atmosphere that transports us to the small town of Providence Oaks The dialogues are well written and dubbed in an excellent way The relaxed and contemplative rhythm represents something different from the usual DOUBTS The gameplay can be a little too limited to some To be evaluated the actual possibility of influencing the story based on the decisions A few bugs in the demo Did you notice any errors?

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