Lake

Lake is a game in which you play as Meredith Weiss, a 40-somthing businesswoman from the big city who’s on a two-week sabbatical in her hometown. She takes a breather from her fast-paced corporate lifestyle, filling in for her father as the local mail carrier while her parents enjoy a vacation of their own. Over this two-week work-cation, Meredith meets various townsfolk, both new and old, and forges a few relationships that have the possibility to extend far beyond her time as a mail carrier. Yes, that includes those of the romantic persuasion.

I normally balk at romance options in games, as they more often than not follow the same basic routine: sweet-talk this character, bang, and then let things flatline. But in Lake, relationships seem to be handled in a more realistic fashion.

Lake has two potential love interests for Meredith: Angie and Robert (the game also seems to imply that Kay is romanceable, despite the fact that Kay is married with two children, but I wasn’t able to actually make good on those implications). In the case of Angie, I initially wasn’t sure if things were going somewhere or if she was just vaguely flirty in general. With Robert, it was a pretty straightforward and uninteresting possible courtship. And with Kay, I wasn’t ever able to discover a proper romantic path forward.

Lake - Kay

I ended up pursuing a romance with Angie, the local video store owner. At first, I wasn’t even sure if she’d be open to the possibility of romance. But over time — and after a great deal of playful banter and tenacity and just playing it cool, plus a small dry spell when she seemed to have soured on me — we eventually went out on a date to the movies and shared a kiss.

Then things sort of stalled. Angie told me she was done with this small town and couldn’t make a go of it with her rental store, even if she wanted to stay. I got the feeling that perhaps she would be open to the idea of joining me back in the big city — she could be my stay-at-home pixie as I climbed the corporate ladder — but things didn’t really end up that way. Her idea for the two of us involved roaming the country in an RV and getting into all sorts of whimsical adventures. That sounds fine, I guess, but I couldn’t walk away from my career over a single kiss.

And surprisingly, Angie understood and handled our eventual goodbye with grace and maturity. I wasn’t really expecting this, and I was actually pretty touched by her reaction. I had half-imagined the writers would have her go into a fit: “How could you lead me on?” You know the sort of cliché I’m referencing. But that’s not how Angie took it. She was bummed, but she understood and even agreed; we hugged and promised to keep in touch, something I truly hoped would be the case in this imaginary world.

Lake - Meredith and Angie

And that left me to see if things would unfold with Kay. All signs pointed to a past fling (although left unspoken), and Kay’s aunt Maureen seemed to really be pushing the subject. I just never saw any romantic openings with Kay and mostly assumed there was something lost in translation when it comes to Maureen’s hope for us.

Plus, Kay was married with two kids, and I would even babysit those children so Kay and her husband could go to Portland to see Journey perform live (this is the 1980s, mind you). Perhaps I just missed the signs, but Meredith didn’t strike me as a home-wrecker, so Kay and I just ended up as good friends with some sort of a past. I think we’ll stay in touch, so there’s that.

Lake - Meredith and Kay

And then there was Robert. Poor, sweet, dumb Robert.

Robert is a local lumberjack who initially was curt and reserved, but we warmed to each other over time. I ended up helping him stave off the construction of new apartments, which he felt would ruin the beauty of their small community. It was pretty obvious that Robert was meant to serve as a traditional, John Hughes-esque shaggy-dog-turned-leading-man.

I wasn’t having it, though — mostly because Robert reminds me so much of the male character in Open Country, a survival game from earlier this year that ended up being deeper than I ‘d expected, but was riddled with performance issues that rendered it mostly a hassle to play. He definitely seems like he’d be besties with Open Country‘s Gary.

So I took an axe to any romantic possibilities with that scruffy lumberjack.

Even though the game seemed to be pushing me more naturally along Robert’s romance path, Lake thankfully provides Meredith with enough wiggle room and tenderly written chances to attempt to steer things in a platonic direction. At one point, I was even given the chance to give him a hug but opted instead to go for a “Call me if you need me,” type goodbye.

Lake - Meredith and Robert

So when Frank — the person who had ushered me into this little adventure — was nice enough to give me a ride back to the airport, I assumed the credits would role and Meredith would be off to whatever else life had in store for her.

And then, Robert suddenly appeared and all but attempted to drive us off the road. It couldn’t have been clearer. Even Frank was taken aback by this yahoo and his desperate, psychotic stunt. Frank pulled over and gave us some space, space I would duly use to set this lovesick dingbat straight. In fact, even the game found this incredulous, as my first line of dialogue after Robert made his grand proposal was something to the effect of, “You expect me to, what? Just get in your truck and we drive off together?”

I couldn’t believe this last-minute betrayal of all we had shared, Robert and I. So after setting Robert straight, staying as cool and collected as I could muster, I (as Meredith) kissed that podunk town goodbye and went on to live my life in the lap of luxury, thanks to my company’s new computer application Addit ’87.

Gosh, I hope none of my past pathetic, desperate attempts at finding happiness came off that ridiculous and creepy.

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behzad
behzad
9 months ago

thanks for this. I really really wanted to live in this world even for once.

LotusMantis
LotusMantis
9 months ago

I’m playing this right now. I loved your take on it. So far all the romance was from Angie, she came on rather strong, Robert seems very, very laid back. We’ll play it out and see how it goes.

Gabriel
Gabriel
8 months ago

Loved your take on the game… Just finished all possible endings and yours was my favorite as well, i just wished i could go back to the big city and be with Angie 🙁

Jason
Jason
3 months ago

Played the game myself and I honestly couldn’t see a relationship between Robert and Meredith. The only two people I could see Meredith having a genuine relationship with is either Angie or Kay.

Antonio
Antonio
1 month ago

Game pushes us to LGBT. Angie is much more interesting story and shows interest right away. Robert, the man is a dumb and looks like a crazy psycho at the end. Unfortunately this game has a agenda behind and that made it suck for me. Its not a fair game: Women are good, Men are dumb.

Josh Wirtanen
Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Antonio

The “agenda” arguments never make sense to me, so let’s break this down.

1. What exactly is the agenda here?
2. What is the desired outcome of this agenda?
3. How does Lake seek to accomplish that desired outcome?

Whenever you suspect a piece of media has an agenda, you should ask these three questions. In most cases, the agenda argument completely falls apart once it’s well-articulated instead of vague. I suspect that a vast majority of people who make “agenda” arguments either haven’t performed this thought experiment or are being deliberately dishonest.

Further, women who like other women exist in the real world (I’ve known plenty of them), and men who act like Robert exist in the real world (again, I’ve known plenty of them). To have both of those things in a video game is not unrealistic at all.

And even further, just because a character possesses “good” or “bad” qualities, that doesn’t mean that everything about them is “good” or “bad.” So, like, making a woman the “good” outcome and the man the “bad” outcome doesn’t mean all women are good or that all men are bad. Now, you COULD make an argument that “Good Girl, Bad Guy” is a trope, and that Lake is playing into this trope. But first, you’d have to show that this trope exists (by pointing out a substantial amount of examples) and second, I think you’d have to admit that playing into a trope and having an agenda are two very different things.

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