Have you ever wanted to play a mail delivery simulator that moonlights as a wholesome version of Grand Theft Auto? Or maybe you need a remedy for nights when you can’t sleep and want a heartwarming story to sooth you back to bed? Well, Lake from developer Gamious might just be the game for you.
In Lake, you play as Meredith Weiss, a stressed out IT professional looking to get away from her life-draining job and exhausting boss. Her solution is to return to her familiar and quaint hometown of Providence Oaks for a couple weeks of R&R. Though, true to the nature of a workaholic, Meredith decides that instead of spending her time resting, her vacation will consist of delivering mail on her postman father’s route while he’s out of town.
Out of the many different types of games I’ve played, Lake has to be up there as one of the most peaceful. The main game mechanics consist of driving around in a mail truck delivering letters and packages to local residents. You’ll get to explore Providence Oaks and learn about some of its residents as you deliver mail each day and build relationships with them if you choose. Along the way you’ll meet some of the town’s eccentric residents and learn more about their stories. And in a delightful way, you’ll learn more about Meredith through these little interactions in the game.
Additionally, Lake offers two love interests to court if that’s something you’re interested in. There’s no pressure to date as the game lets you pick the dialogue options that may or may not signal your interest in either Angie or Robert. Of course, being true to my own nature, I chose Angie, the video store clerk whose ending I liked best.
The game itself is set in 1986, but even if you didn’t live through that time, Lake still conjures up the right amount of comfort to make you feel welcome. There’s a meditative quality about driving through the winding roads of Providence Oaks and reliving Meredith’s memories that evokes a nice feeling of second-hand nostalgia. While Meredith goes about her mail duties, she’ll sometimes comment on a location and its meaning to her. For example, driving past a place where she had a first kiss or a cutscene about the spot where she got drunk with a friend. The scenic forests and the eponymous Providence Oaks Lake make for a fitting backdrop for the story of reconnecting with your roots.
While I enjoyed how calming and heartwarming the game was, I did have one qualm with it. My biggest hangup was how slow Meredith walks. Usually, a game will implement some type of sprinting mechanic for players to move their character faster. And the game does have one. But for me, it didn’t make that much of a difference, and I found myself on the edge of my seat praying she’d walk just a little faster so I could get my daily deliveries done quicker. The cutscenes between deliveries did help, and I feel as if the walking mechanics were trying to subconsciously tell me to slow down and enjoy the game. And I did! I think I’m just an impatient player when it comes to slice-of-life games like Lake.
As the premise of the game is to learn more about who Meredith is and her relationships to others, there isn’t much room for error as a player. Even if you drive your mail truck into cars and pedestrians, nothing bad happens. Yes, I did try it. There are no crumbling buildings or angry pedestrians — just you having to do a virtual three-point turn to atone for your driving mistakes. But if you’re the type that likes to play video games immersed, stopping at every red light to ruminate over each dialogue option, I’d download Lake as fast as you possibly can. It’ll definitely scratch that itch for a game with cozy vibes, cute dating options, and a wholesome story.