28/05/2018

🌊 Review: Lake Ridden "A gentle, supernatural tale that doesn’t make a huge splash" 🌊 #GameDev #IndieGame @kingdomofcarts @BrittRecluseuk

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Game Title: Lake Ridden
Developer: Midnight Hub
Platform Reviewed: PC (Steam)
Rating: Melting

Lake Ridden tells the story of a young girl called Marie who has gone camping with her sister, Sophia. 

Upon waking, Marie notices that Sophia has gone missing and sets off alone into the darkened woods to try and find her…what could possibly go wrong?

A first-person puzzle game, the tone that Lake Ridden has in somewhere between The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and Senscape’s 2007 title Scratches

The story takes place in the surrounding woods of a long-lost community and the mansion and gardens that towers above the ruined town, devoid of people. It’s more of mystery game than a horror and so the tension comes more from the general spooky ambience than jump scares, making it suitable for most players.

Graphically, the game is strong, Marie’s journey through the ominous locations are well-designed and suitably creepy. Fog hangs low and in sections where bloom and light effects take centre stage, they feel immersive, adding to the woozy atmosphere. The sound is also of a high standard, especially the music that accompanies you on your adventure, gentle, rolling music which alters according to your location seamlessly. I realised after a while that I couldn’t tell when the music was looping which is a great sign for me as I do tend to get irritated by clunky sound design. As you move from place to place, distant animal sounds, nature and rain all add to the ambience and are lifted with the lilting sound track.

Gameplay in Lake Ridden is based on Marie’s sole goal of finding her missing sister and whilst the story starts off simply enough it soon opens up into a supernatural tale which expands on the history of the ghosts that you come across and communicate with. Also adding background information are the notes scattered around which I found were readable and not too cumbersome or numerous, which can bog down similar games. I did, however, feel that there were too many cupboards, chests and chests of drawers that are useless and feel like filler, making exploring a chore. Another area of the game that I wasn’t entirely convinced of was the more supernatural elements and of the storytelling in general. The games’ narrative drive feels somewhat unfocused and character motivations aren’t really clear in some cases.
The puzzles are the section of the game that most players will be drawn to due to the genre and I found them to be a mixed bag, the same ideas can be used multiple times, especially in later stages of the game, the final quarter also features a lot of back tracking and did end up feeling laborious. 

Be prepared for quite a few sliding puzzles as well as memory puzzles and ‘button flip’ brain teasers (these make up optional side quests which, upon completion give more information about the characters) as the game uses these multiple times. The game has a hint system built in which can help if you just need a slight nudge to get you on your way.

Some of the puzzles are quite clever and satisfying whilst some had me reaching for a walkthrough and felt obtuse and unrewarding. I also had issues with the lack of an in-game map as the ghost that acts as a guide tells you to go to specific places in order to move the story along but in a vague manner. An example was when I was standing outside the main mansion, completely surrounded by trees and my invisible guide said ‘there’s a path to the lake over there by the trees’. You also get told to ‘go to the cabin by the laundry’ but as most buildings are ruined shells, it can be difficult to make out where you are supposed to head next.
Summary
Overall, my response to the game was mixed. I liked the setting, visuals, music and some of the puzzles but as the story turns more and more towards the supernatural I found myself losing interest, especially as the puzzles get more and more re-used as the story progresses, the combination of which ended up with me feeling unengaged with what was happening onscreen in the latter quarter of the game.

A solid, if not ‘must have’ first game by Midnight Hub, worth a look If you are a fan of puzzle games supernatural elements but for me, the meandering tale of Lake Ridden wasn’t enough to make me yearn to work through to the end.

Right, I’m off to play hide and seek with invisible ghosts.

πŸ’§❄️ RATING: MELTING ❄️πŸ’§
Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)

MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Review Britt