What makes Lakespecial is that it’s not an adventure or story from the perspective of a teen or a young adult, but rather a middle-aged woman. Meredith is house-sitting for her parents back in the small hometown that she left 22 years prior. While in town, she covers her dad’s mail route. It may not be an intense roguelite or a gripping thriller, but it’ll strike the same chord as Unpacking.
Many sorts of players love Xbox Game Pass, from those who prefer the latest triple-A games to those who enjoy short yet sweet narrative excursions from small independent creators. Lake, like the blockbuster game Hades, both Ori and the Blind Forest and its sequel, and the rags-to-riches No Man’s Sky, hasn’t gotten much attention since its debut, but those who have had the chance to play it have praised it. It’s now more accessible and free for Xbox Game Pass customers, thanks to its inclusion this month.
For those who enjoy relaxing simulators like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Stardew Valley, Moonglow Bay, and the recently released Wytchwood, Lakeis a perfect follow-up. Much of the gameplay consists of driving the postal truck around the lake and delivering mail to the townsfolk, which helps Mereditch learn a little bit about everyone around her. There are no major plot twists or tense moments because Lake is a slice-of-life game excellent for gamers who are looking to wind down.
For gamers intrigued by romance, there are a couple of options that make Lakeworthwhile, even if Meredith is only in town for a couple of weeks. There’s Robert, the resident lumberjack complete with a gruff beard. He’s protective of the nearby forests and is stopping them from being replaced by apartment buildings. Despite his rough persona, his soft spot for nature helps him open up to Meredith. There’s also Angie, an energetic movie buff who’s planning on leaving Providence Oaks for good. If Angie’s romanced, she can make the final choice in Lake much more difficult, but perhaps that’s just part of the twists and turns that make life exciting. They might not be as enthralling as the heartthrobs of Life is Strange: True Colors, but Lake‘s romances are true to the game’s momentum.
It might seem like Lake is just a mail delivery simulator, but the game is far more meaningful than that. Players should wait for something to happen in the small town of Providence Oaks because it’s much more emblematic of real life’s twists and turns than most video games. The small cast of characters is not only fitting for the small community, but it helps keep the story focused, short, and sweet.
The final decision that players face, in the end, might be a bit predictable. Still, spending time in the small town learning about Meredith and her past life, they’re sweet and refreshing, and there’s even a “secret” ending that comes out of the blue should players make a certain, unassuming choice related to the RV earlier on.
Lake can be completed in a brief 6 or 7 hours, and while it may not be Grand Theft Auto with chaotic driving and dangerous pit stops, it’s a perfect addition to Xbox Game Pass. It might be a bit too short for some to spend $20 on, so it’s a good opportunity to take advantage of the subscription service and play Lake in a quiet, cozy evening or two.