Sometimes, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. And sometimes, you don’t even know what you want until you’ve tried something new. I think these two sentences can perfectly encapsulate what I took away from Lake.

Lake is a game that, on the surface, tasks the player with being a mailperson in their small hometown for two weeks while on break from their more demanding corporate job. But on a deeper level, the game’s design and execution allows the player to examine protagonist Meredith Weiss in a way that’s quieter and more nuanced than many other character-centric titles. There are no secret super powers or otherworldly, nefarious forces at play here; you really are just delivering packages and passing the time.

As Meredith, players have the to freedom to decide how much they wish to pry and, as a result, ingrain themselves into the lives of the locals. The game follows a pretty rigid structure, which I find works in its favor in this regard. You start every day (other than Sunday) doing your postal route, which changes based on the demands of the day. One day might see you delivering more packages than others, sometimes to the same addresses as before, while other times you might drop a letter off in a new location you might not visit again.

Lake - Meredith and Kay

Along the way, you’ll meet a local video store owner, an old acquaintance that now runs the local diner, a video-game-obsessed motel clerk, and a gruff lumberjack, just to name a few. Whether you get in deep or play it light, decide to crack a tough nut or let their gruff brusqueness roll off your back… that is up to you.

The same goes for how much romance you want in your life, or whether or not you decide to use your postal van to deliver VCRs and cassettes for the video store, which is a violation of your postal oath to use company equipment solely in the line of duty.

And this is what gives Lake its chill vibes. Nothing that I played led to — or even suggested — any malice or danger, which was a nice change of pace. At worst, you might break a heart or two, maybe stand a teenager up on movie night or decide not help an older lady get her cat to the vet (now that I type that last bit, it does seems kind of mean-spirited). The choice is yours. But you can take comfort in your routine because, regardless of how you present yourself in the court of public opinion, the mail must be delivered first and foremost.


In a lot of ways, Lake feels like a TV show that would’ve aired on CBS back in the early 2000’s, maybe after right after the newest episode of Touched by an Angel. And even though that might sound like a bit of a dig, it’s not meant to slam the game. Lake just happens to be an impressively optimistic and lighthearted game with an emotional center if you should seek it out and engage with it.

If you choose, you can just use this opportunity for some R&R, musing at the local denizens of a community that you left long ago with no desire to return to on a long-term basis. But then again, should you wish to take a particular couple up on their offer, you’ll get a beat-up RV as a token of their appreciation, and the open road awaits you.

Lake is a game about choice and interactions. It leaves it up to you just how much you want to get to know other people, especially those that knew you decades ago. Do they still see you as that same person who left this town, despite how much you might have grown or changed since then? There is a sense of familiarity, but also that of being an outsider looking in, a tourist on a trip down nostalgia lane.

It also has some real earworms on its soundtrack.

But whatever it is you get out of Lake, it’s an incredible experience that was well worth the detour. It even helped me find the Meredith Weiss I wanted to be. And this is why Lake is one of the best games of 2021.

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