If you enjoy walks on the beach, happy thoughts, and not the ever pressing presence of something dark and foreboding then this game is not for you. However if you like puzzle solving, eerie scenery, and a dark atmosphere then this is for you and I hope you enjoy my review of the creepy, puzzle based, walking sim that is Lake Ridden
Lake Ridden is the newly released game on PC from studio Midnight Hub, an indie studio based in Sweden made up of former Minecraft and Pardox developers. Not quite a horror game, and not quite a walking sim, Lake Ridden is however a fantastic puzzle game with beautifully done scenery, music and voice acting that helps draw you into its rich story. As someone that is not at all okay with any type of scary stuff I was prepared to be miserable. However, as I got through the puzzles and told my anxiety to calm down I was finally able to play a great game and am all the better for it.
Let me start by saying that Lake Ridden is 100% about its wonderful story. You take control of Marie, a 13 year old girl, who is out camping with her sister and friends. Upon arriving on the first night you argue with her and she runs off. What should be a simple task takes a turn as you go further into the woods and discover an abandon camp site. You find pages of a diary from a young lady. She tells the player about her coming out here with her boyfriend. She then starts to feel ill and comments on how she hopes her boyfriend hasn’t slipped her something. Once you finish reading the note Marie then comments how the girl was found wandering the woods mumbling and how the boyfriend was never found or heard from again. This sets the tone for the rest of the adventure and you soon find a dilapidated cabin with your first puzzle to solve. Lake Ridden’s two strongest points are the story that unfolds before you and it’s puzzles.
I am an honest to goodness a caveman when it comes to puzzle games and 9 out of 10 times I have to go grab my wife for help and watch as she solves it with ease. Thankfully Midnight Hub planned for this and added a great hint system that can give you up to four hints ranging from maybe something you used in the past would help here to THE ANSWER IS ON THE GROUND. When I solved a puzzle for the first time with no hints I felt amazing. With some puzzles being more strategy based I actually had a chance but, some really make you think and figuring those out was very rewarding. Lake Ridden eventually pairs you up with a disembodied voice that starts to show you around the mansion and town grounds you come across. Between being able to move and rotate items to check for clues, and opening almost every door you can come across the game can make you lost with your own ability to explore and search for clues and hidden puzzle chest.
Lake Ridden is not easy. Even with the hints it still is up to you the player to put the puzzles together and find missing parts. There were times where I was certain that I had everything, but upon closer inspection and another pass through of the room, I realized I had missed the most subtle of hints about what to do. Every time a moment like this would happen I felt excited and began looking for things in a new light.
Lake Ridden‘s story is dark, mysterious, eerie, and makes you feel uneasy the whole time.What really helps this are the beautifully rendered graphics. When I was crawling in an attic I could see the dust particles in the air. The atmosphere and the environment are almost like another character in themselves. You feel lost, you feel afraid, and if your like me your getting spooked at everything. From the twisting vines that are covered in thorns, to an abandon town with burnt down buildings. Lake Ridden wants you to explore its buildings, it begs you to move objects and see what they might do. As the story unfolds you can tell there is something amiss by how run down everything is. The lighting is beautiful as most of the settings take place in the night time. You carry a lamp with you and it acts as your lighthouse in the dark. the graphics are equally matched and amplified by Lake Ridden’s audio
The audio in Lake Ridden is just fantastic. The music is soft and mode setting and when you are walking around the forest you can hear the animals calling to each other (and if you are a big baby it will also spook you out and cause you to yell at them). Most of the games story is told through notes and the amazing voice acting. Sound plays a huge part in some of the puzzles and everything just ties together really well.
Lake Ridden has a couple of hidden puzzle boxes to find but overall this game takes about 8-10 hours to complete. The game is mostly about its story and puzzle solving and once you figure them out the first time then you are set. Midnight Hub is actively updating the game and I hope in the future they will have either DLC or another game come out to keep the story going.
Lake Ridden looks and feels like a labor of love. The story is great, the characters are great, the puzzles are great. At a price of $19.99 Lake Ridden is 8-10 hours of enjoyment and a steal for the price. I know it may feel like I am gushing over this game but it took me by surprise and I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing it.
Overall I gladly give Lake Ridden the Thumb Culture Gold Award
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