Lake Ridden

 

 

 

Genre:    Adventure 

Developer:   Midnight Hub

Publisher:    Midnight Hub  

Released:   May 10, 2018              

Requirements (minimum):

 

  • OS: Windows 7 or higher, 64bit
  • Processor: AMD FX 610 or Intel Core i3-2100T @ 2.5 Ghz
  • Memory: 6 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 650 Ti or AMD Radeon HD 7770
  • Storage: 3 GB available space
  • DirectX: Version 11

 

 

 

By flotsam

 

Lake Ridden

Midnight Hub

Marie and her sister Sophie went camping a fair while back, but Sophie went missing. She was there, albeit on the other side of a broken bridge, but when Marie found her way across she was nowhere to be seen. What happened is reflected on by Marie and is what unfolds over the next 6 to 8 hours.

I do like a game with complete freedom of movement, where you can go anywhere and look all about, propelled by the W key and steered by the mouse. To me it feels the most natural of all game constructs, and helps draw me in to the environment. And when the environment is as richly detailed and constructed as this, the immersion is further enhanced.

You play Marie, and quickly find yourself searching gardens, an old estate, and eventually an island in the lake. Just as quickly, you find yourself guided by a voice who identifies as Nora, and things clearly aren't as straightforward as they might have seemed. A diary about a missing boy, and then some other things, confirm it.

The game world is littered with letters, notes and diaries, especially inside the dilapidated mansion and its outbuildings. There are numerous things to open and rummage through, most not eliciting anything of interest, but not all. There are also a bevy of puzzle boxes, some musical some not, which contain items or clues of importance, or perhaps just some more detail to the backstories of the people who once dwelled here.

You don't have to find or solve everything, but (not surprisingly) you do have to find the things that matter. Inventory items will be used throughout the game, in simple and not so simple ways.

It's a fairly dark (in terms of lighting) environment throughout, but there are all manner of things you can ignite to help throw light (metaphorically and physically) on what you are doing. I found it was most useful outside, not to help see where you were going, but to help find your way back from some locations. I did spend a fair bit of time being lost as I rambled around the estate, and when I needed to backtrack, being able to follow the lights I had lit on the way out was helpful indeed. Getting to and from the island in the latter part of the game is a case in point.

I did think there was a little too much wandering around trying to find a particular location (the estate isn't quite a maze but in the dark it is easy to get confused and turned around), and way too much backtracking. The latter wasn't because I had missed something, but because the game made you go one place to do one thing, then a ways away to do something else, then back again to do another thing. Lots of games do this, but here, and largely because of the strength of everything else, it felt unnecessary.

While you propel yourself around with the W key and mouse, you explore the world with the mouse. Hotspots and icons will indicate things to be done, but not always. If for example you have a set of keys and you are convinced you need to go through a particular door, try the key. Some conundrums lead you to the water, but you still need to drink.

Speaking of which, while some were repeated a bit too often (and became tired as a result), the conundrums and puzzles were generally well done. Early on they are relatively easy, by the end of the game far more complex. Notwithstanding the repetition there is a good variety, many familiar but some not - positioning cogs, concocting elixirs, repeating patterns, creating the right image on a set of rotating discs, even firing a crossbow. While most are not difficult (and a progressive hint system is available through your notebook), they all require at least a modicum of gray matter. Some require much more. I thought the light puzzle towards the end and the clues that were involved (assuming you had found them) was top notch. The very final puzzle required an effort that was beyond me though; I thought I knew what to do, I just couldn't work out how to do it. YouTube helped.

The notebook is a source of great assistance. Hit "N" and the notes/books/papers etc. you have found will be available, helpfully tabbed in a file system to indicate what they are and in which location they were found. You will need to review these notes for some puzzles, and for more detail on what went on.

As indicated up front, Lake Ridden looks good. Things that are supposed to be old and rundown look like that, and "feel" appropriately dusty and dilapidated. Lighting the lamps and candles throughout the mansion imbues the rooms with some warmth, but can't banish the fact that they are devoid of current life. Outside is equally as impressive, whether it be the rambling garden or the soggy lake.

The sounds are as good as the visuals, and the music is well used. It isn't scary or even tinged that way, but the game does create a broodingly sad atmosphere.

Not everything hums. There are some gaps in the narrative, and the supernatural elements might not gel for you. While the voice acting is fine, I did think Marie was a little too composed given her age and what was going on. And as noted, you do spend a bit of time getting lost trying to find the next location, even knowing the location you need.

The game autosaves, so wait until you get the little save icon top right of screen before exiting in order to limit what you have to replay.

All up, while it could be tightened and a little more focused, there is an awful lot to like down by this lake.

 

I played on:

OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit

Processor: Intel i7-6700 4GHz

RAM: 32GB GDDR5

Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB

 

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December 2018

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