Sep 19 2022

Late Lake Review

It’s time to a take a break from the over bearing responsibilities of working in the big city, and instead apply yourself to slave labour in a back-water town, completing drug runs, covering for your parents who’ve bailed town for masterminding an illegal gambling ring.

You play the character of single, middle aged Meredith. Looking to retreat from her full-time job in the city as a programmer in the 1980s, you agree to cover your Dad’s shift back in your home town as a postwoman for 2 weeks, whilst your parents are on a Florida retreat. As it’s the 1980’s, you need to recall that communications were slow between parties, either calling people on their house phone as nobody had mobiles, or otherwise via the US postal service as a letter, which made postmen and women an essential commodity back then. For Meredith, the opportunity to get away and start over in your home town gives the character time to reflect on what they want from life, whether city life is still for them, or if the call of nature and peace is drawing them back home, or even afar.

You meet Frank for your first day of work, tossing you the keys to the ancient rust bucket of a postal van. Franks got a reputation around these parts, and the less you know about him, the better. You set off on your first day with an easy shift of a couple of letters and parcels, going over a basic tutorial of driving and navigating via the map. As you drive across town, you meet some old faces from your childhood, alongside some new faces that you can attempt to make friends with if so desired. By getting to know the local residents, you can meet up for after-work activities, contributing to town activities and getting to know people better, perhaps even hook up with a few of them.

There is no ranking system or time limit for delivery post. Other than getting around to every one of your deliveries during each day, you can take your time to enjoy the view of the lake and forests, and listen to the same 3 songs over and over. I would say the in-built radio was the biggest weakness of the game. Whilst the game even tries to make fun of itself, by saying that the resident radio DJ has a limited playlist, it really isn’t funny that it’s the same 3 songs for something like 12 days of work. If you turn off the radio, you can get an extra instrumental backing track, but otherwise, the music will make you want to bash your brains out, or atleast convince your decision to leave the town to actually enjoy an 80s jazz bar someplace. The gist of the game is to just enjoy the drive around the lake, which you can do in the first 5 minutes of gameplay. Beyond this, it’s up to you whether you want to see/decide the remainder of the story.

There are additional tasks you can take on an evening, whether it’s entertaining guests or doing some work for your employer back at home. Whilst the right thing to do is to play along and complete as much of these as possible to earn the trophies, which I did, I would be curious what would happen if you told everyone to fuck off and leave you to your business, though I don’t think the game has any worthwhile repeatability to find out any alternative endings, seeing as you’d lose out on achievement trophies and also most of the dialogue options appear to get a generic response anyway from NPCs, whichever option you do select when trying to make the conscious effort to engage with the game. I would try to be as rude to people as I could be, especially if they were being rude to me; as this is what gaming’s about, escaping reality and bending conventional social rules.

The game is scenic enough from a cel-shaded point of view if you let your vision blur over to take in the pleasantness. The PS4 version at least suffered from terrible frame rate and some bad landscape textures. There are long load times. Bugs are common with visuals and sounds. The game ultimately still needs a lot of polishing even though it’s now been out on other platforms for a year.

It was an incredibly pleasant surprise to see an easter egg involving the BBC tv show Detectorists with Mackenzie Crook out and about looking for ancient coins. I’ve no idea how this collaboration came to be, but a TV show that has the same appeal as the game of escaping the rush of life to enjoy the serenity of a simple task at hand, helped warm my heart. And thanks to this game, I googled Detectorists, again to have another pleasant surprise to find that even though I had already watched the original 3 series from 2014-2017, there has since been a feature-length special released this year, that I need to track down on the Internet, so that’s something to look forward to.

All in all, the game is a good time waster, if you just want to mong out for little bit and perhaps experience a very basic lesbian relationship for anyone that enjoy games solely for that reason (I had to break Angie’s heart in the end as she was being too selfish), but it’s not one I can recommend to casual/serious gamers.


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