LAKE (2021)

(PC/PS4/PS5/Xboxes) Pacific Northwest. Character-forward. Narrative-based decisions. A middle-aged woman computer programmer trying to navigate her life in 1986.

This game couldn’t fit more squarely into my wheelhouse.

While a lot of the game does remind me of LIFE IS STRANGE, this is far cozier than LIFE IS STRANGE’s teenage drama. (Except for WAVELENGTHS, naturally.)

It is absolutely worth noting that this game is little more than a small-scale tale of said woman taking a break from her normal life, temporarily running her father’s mail job in their hometown while finding a more permanent solution. In the meantime, you get to re-familiarize yourself with the locals and, if you’re so brazen, can even attempt to romance them.

(I’ll note that I tried so hard to romance the twenty-years-younger woman running the video store, but that didn’t work out. The dude lumberjack was super into me, though. Not my type so I gently let him down.)

This is a quintessential cozy game. You just drive around, you deliver mail, you drop off packages, you listen to townies grouse, you try to help them out, and at the end of the day you talk to your parents on the phone. Roll credits.

I love it. The town is well-drawn, it involves a frickin’ BBS and ASCII graphics, but that nerdiness isn’t meant to alienate folks; it simply serves to show the prior world that the protagonist — Miss Meredith Weiss — existed in.

I’ll note that, at least the PS4/PS5 version, is buggier than I’d like. For a game that relies on dialog trees, highlighting your responses can be very unpredictable, and there were a few spots where I had to restart the game, and there are a lot of visual hiccups. Heck, even just watching the final credits proved to be a problem as I had to pause them partially through, then had to replay a good chunk of the game to get back to them.

Nonetheless, it’s worth the effort, as this is one of those rare games that feel like a memory without being nostalgia-bait. It’s sweet and earnest and low-key, and so few games provide that comfort.


Just in time for this post, I found out that they’re releasing some winter holiday-centric DLC later this year. Hooray!