Death Stranding may not be considered the instigator of a new genre just yet, but the earnest mailing simulators roll on. Lake, from developer Gamious, is a much more grounded attempt at replicating the career path. There are the usual letters and parcels to deliver, and you interact with actual humans instead of holograms of Geoff Keighley. It's a genuinely relaxing experience, but the game struggles to do much more with its premise.
That's because its laid back gameplay loop of delivering the mail by day and meeting up with friends at night is stretched a little too thin. You'll spend working hours driving about Providence Oaks as Meredith Weiss, plotting a course through the town to streamline your stops. You'll be given a list of houses to deliver envelopes and packages to, and then you can take as much time as you like getting there. Crank the radio up to 11 and forget your worries; it's a great title to kick back with.
Outside of the job, you can choose to meet up with friends, rekindle old flames, or forge new relationships. A very basic dialogue system drives the story, allowing you to choose who Meredith interacts with. Side quests can form out of these meetings, giving you something else to think about whilst on duty.
Cracks begin to show the more you play, however. There's not enough meat on the bones for the experience to remain engaging for a full playthrough, with the loop beginning to wear thin maybe a third of the way through. Not enough new elements are introduced, rendering Lake too shallow from start to finish.
One too many technical faults then get in the way of your digital retreat. Constant stutters and persistent texture pop-in muddies the screen somewhat, and glitches like it raining indoors are just a bit disappointing. We then encountered a glitch that forced us to reload our save on a few occasions.
Still, Lake is the perfect pallet cleanser after a heavier title. It's refreshing to not have to worry about an end of the world prophecy, or an out of control god hell-bent on destruction. However, it's also that simplistic nature that holds it back from a first-class stamp.