The year is 1986 and you play as Meredith Weiss as she takes a step back from her busy tech career to deliver mail in her hometown. Lake follows Meredith as she returns to her lovely home town of Providence Oaks, Oregon, a sleepy lake-side town with just a few residents. You’re filling in for your dad for the next two weeks as you explore the town and get to know the residents. Some are friendly new faces, and some are familiar pals you grew up with. Deliver mail during the day, then spend your after work hours keeping to yourself or hanging out with friends. There are no wrong or right answers in this game, but they all shape your experience!
I found Lake to be somewhat frustrating at first. You walk SO slowly, and there’s not a ton to do besides deliver mail and talk to people. Then I realized, that’s the point. In a world full of high adrenaline platformers and fighting games, this one forces you to slow down and enjoy the simple things in the world around you. There are no cell phones or modern computers to distract you. You deliver mail in a gorgeous town, build relationships with the townspeople, and just take in the scenery. Plus, driving around is fun, and the autopilot feature allows for some great sightseeing.
This is an ideal walking simulator, really. The mountains in the distance paired with the lovely wooded areas of town, and the idyllic small-town are so peaceful and perfect to just stroll through. The sun shining adds a relaxing atmosphere to the unhurried little town. Plus, there’s no timer or clock to compete with. Lake doesn’t have you on a schedule to deliver to each house by a certain time or within a certain limit. You can just get to it when you get to it, so take the scenic route around the lake! When you’ve finished your mail route and any side tasks you want to complete, you can return to the post office to end the day. Then, you’ll have the chance to hang out with friends or chill out at home. Rinse and repeat.
Graphics and Audio
The graphics in the game aren’t top tier, mind-blowing by any means. However, the scenery is still beautiful. Providence Oaks is adorable, and driving through some of the tree-lined roads is highly cathartic. Lake’s homes and their yards border on perfection, which makes them a little too cookie-cutter, but they’re well designed. The character’s facial features seem a little plastic as only the eyes and mouth move, but they’re always well dressed. The clothing choices often scream ‘80s, which helps with setting the time period. Otherwise, there isn’t a ton that makes the game feel like it’s in the ‘80s besides some of the movie posters at the rental store.
As for the audio, Lake’s mail truck is equipped with a radio that plays country-pop songs. Thankfully, you can toggle the radio on and off, because the songs are far from my idea of enjoyable. They often were too loud for my tastes, too. I would have much preferred some ambient muzak or lo-fi jams, but these songs are fairly on-brand for the time. They felt overpowering, though. The music didn’t fade into the background and mix with the scenery to create the perfect relaxing experience.
Overall, I really enjoyed Lake. It was relaxing and set in a gorgeous area. I know many people had issues with glitches early on, but I’m guessing they’ve been patched out by now as I had no issues. Engaging in a short story delivered through character interactions made it easy to learn who people were while getting some backstory on Meredith, too. Plus, no timer or clock lets me chill out and explore and get things done at my own pace. It really allowed me to just take in the scenery.
If you enjoy walking simulators with little to do gameplay-wise, and enjoy slower games, this is for you!
From the same developers who made No Place Like Home and Fresh Start Cleaning Simulator comes Captain Pawsome! Instead of cleaning up the world, you play as a cat who captains a ship and fishes for a living. This 2D cozy game focuses on fishing, managing your own shop, and upgrading your ship. What’s better than sailing the high seas full of adventure and fish?
Start your sailing adventure by customizing your cat captain. Pick from several cat breeds, as well as fur patterns to create your purrfect captain. Then set sail across the beautiful open seas to fish for a variety of critters. Even take on the mission of cleaning up the debris and garbage from the ocean! And don’t forget to collect the resources you can find in the ocean. You’ll need those to upgrade your ship. Captain Pawsome also focuses on managing your own shop where you sell your fish for profit. There are even some intriguing townspeople to get to know!
This is a cozy game full of charm and adventure.
Captain Pawsome is available now on Steam! There’s even a demo to try out before you buy.
Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery is an interactive narrative game that tells the tale of a young artist getting a painting ready for a gallery exhibit. Step into her shoes as she goes about her daily life cooking a simple breakfast, observing her grumpy neighbor, and finishing her masterpiece. Things aren’t all what they seem on the surface, though, as you’ll soon learn by unlocking familiar memories that relive the past.
I won’t give away the entire storyline as that takes the fun out of getting to play on your own, but it’s an incredibly beautiful one. Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery starts as this unassuming, easy-going little interactive narrative. You play as the young woman artist who’s trying to finish her grand masterpiece for a gallery submission. You cook a simple breakfast, prepare coffee, and work on an application at an easy pace. The quiet background music and the apartment that suits an artist’s spirit add to the overall relaxing nature of the game and story. Then you start experiencing some memories that flood back to the young woman. They’re comfortable, but emotional and their cutscenes look very Studio Ghibli inspired. There’s even some plot twists that keep you on your toes. Overall, it’s an engrossing story that I absolutely loved experiencing.
While it’s an interactive narrative at its heart, Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery is also a puzzle game. In order to finish the painting, you must find the woman’s missing paints. They’re locked away in different parts of the scene, and you need to solve the different puzzles to get them. None of the puzzles are super difficult, though, allowing the game to keep its relaxed tone. Plus, the controls are easy to use, and the game is only about an hour of play time. So, it’s a short and easy experience, but such a worthwhile one. You even get to physically paint the woman’s masterpiece, which was fun!
If you like the idea of visual novels, but want more of a role than just clicking through dialogue like in the Coffee Talk games (which I also recommend to people), then this game is absolutely for you. Besides, it’s gorgeously done, has a great story, and isn’t super hard. It’s perfect for a relaxing hour or so.
Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery combines the idea of an escape room with a classic interactive narrative story. Experience a vivid, emotional story about a young artist who’s on the cusp of finishing the final piece of her gallery submission. She’s missing the necessary colors to bring her painting to life, and you’ll need to search for them. There’s more than meets the eye, though, as you soon discover.
With a 360 degree panoramic view of the small apartment, you can explore the young artist’s sacred space full of art and comfort. Behind the Frame will have you painting her masterpiece by filling in the canvas. Search for the missing paints by solving mild puzzles. Even learn about the grumpy old artist neighbor in an exciting, but relaxing experience.
It’s December! And you know what that means, right? Christmas is almost here! My favorite holiday is Halloween, but Christmas is a close second. It’s the perfect time of year to get comfy and cozy with a good blanket, cup of hot chocolate, and a lovely video game. I’ve gone hunting for some great Christmas-themed games to share with you all this season, too!
Everybody Wham Wham is one such Christmas-themed game I’ve come across. This one comes from developers Bonte Avond, who also made the funny Once Upon a Jester, and also has those fun storybook looking visuals. This time, it’s a whimsical story-driven adventure where you compete to build the best snowman!
You’ll go head-to-head with two other competitors to compete for the winning spot. Just make sure you pay attention to the criteria and build within the time limit. Everybody Wham Wham will have you hand-rolling your snowman, as well as decorating it. Choose from 60 different decorations to impress the judges. And if you do it right, you might just score a perfect 10! Then, hang out with a cast of quirky characters while you attend karaoke night, drink a hot cup of cocoa, or listen to a fun campfire song with them. Not everything is quite as it seems, either. Talk with Wham Wham the snowman to see if you can’t unravel the reason why the festival is held and what it is he’s hiding from contestants!
Everybody Wham Wham is currently available on Steam and Itch.io for you to enjoy whenever!
Night in the Woods follows Mae Borowski, a college dropout who has returned home to Possum Springs. It’s a former mining town that’s absolutely falling apart, but Mae seeks to return to her aimless life there. You play as Mae as she tries to reconnect with old friends, and re-enter her old life. Things seem a little different, though. Old friends have grown up and changed. Leaves are falling as the wind grows colder. And strange things are happening in the darkness.
Plus, there’s something lurking in the woods. Embark on an adventure that focuses on exploring the town, engaging in compelling story lines, and unique character interactions. Night in the Woods is surely the perfect spooky cozy game to get into the spirit of Halloween!
Veil of Dust: A Homestead Game is a farming simulator seeking to turn the genre on its head. Inspired by the likes of Stardew Valley and Don’t Starve, this game is a historically-grounded fantasy homesteading and survival game with a more adult-oriented gameplay. You’ll play as the Callahan siblings, Shane and Áine, as they learn to cope with loss and learn how to survive life in the desert of eastern Oregon.
With a more task-centric focus, and less grinding, Veil of Dust sets you on an adventure to explore magic, intrigue, small town politics, and more. You’ll farm, forage, and hunt to scrape together the resources and food necessary to survive. Overcome challenges with tools you craft, and fill bellies with different recipes you’ve scraped together, as well as forge relationships. Survival isn’t just about finding food and shelter, after all. Life needs to be worth living, too! Experience deep characterizations and explore realistic, relatable scenarios that touch on heavier topics.
Veil of Dust isn’t devoid of humor and fun, though! Guide Shane and Áine as they search for answers as to why mysterious monsters attack their town and livelihoods. While defense wasn’t always a priority, you might need to protect your homestead from them. The homestead you’ve carefully made your very own by lovingly choosing the perfect colors, turning your inhospitable dirt patch into a comfortable home.
Every Hue of You is a gorgeous visual novel that follows Twyla. She recently lost her mother and struggles with keeping her emotions in check. Feeling lonely and confused, Twyla needs to navigate her emotions while quashing them as society in Zenoa city has stigmatized feelings. Those who can’t keep their emotions under control are shamed by the community.
Twyla’s struggling with taking over her late mother’s famed jewelry shop, until one night she discovers she’s a conduit. Because she’s a conduit, Twyla can take on the emotional energy of others and transfer it! You’ll play as Twyla as she discovers her new gift, and uses it to revitalize the jewelry business. Every Hue of You leads you on a journey of exploration as you hold deep conversations with a cast of intriguing customers. Carefully coax out their true feelings through those conversations. Then, help them find the perfect gifts for loved ones, and enchant those pieces of jewelry.
Every Hue of You takes you on an unforgettable adventure full of complex narratives and beautiful visuals.