Developed by Gamious and published by Whitethorn Games, Lake: Season’s Greetings is a prequel to the original title Lake which was released back in 2021. Season’s Greetings takes you back to Providence Oaks however this time around, the holiday season is in full swing as the whole town is covered in snow and decorations and you step into the shoes of Thomas Wiess, a character who we only heard on the phone in the original title. The prequel brings the same coziness and warmth of the original title as you drive your mail truck around town and meet a colorful cast of people. This is our review of Lake: Season’s Greetings on the Xbox Series X in which we deliver some parcels and help out a news crew with their documentary.
Lake: Season’s Greetings is set in Providence Oaks in the last few days of 1985. You play as Thomas Weiss, father of Meredith Weiss who was the main character of the original Lake. Thomas is a postal worker and drives his mail truck around town to deliver letters and parcels all day and spends his evening with his wife or the friendly locals of Providence Oaks. Lake: Season’s Greetings allows you to experience the holiday season in Providence Oaks and celebrate the New Year as it arrives just in time for the real Christmas season as well. As you play the game as Thomas, you will get to meet new visitors to the town, deliver some mail, and take part in some cool activities like fishing over a frozen lake or playing poker with your friends.
The gameplay of Lake: Season’s Greetings is pretty much exactly the same as that of the original Lake. You start a day, drive around various areas of Providence Oaks, and deliver mail. Some of the houses will have letters that you deliver straight to their mailboxes while some houses will have parcels that will often trigger a cutscene if the recipient is a prominent character of the story or you will leave it at their doors. The complete layout of the map, locations, and houses are exactly the same with the only change being the season. There is snow everywhere and everything is white and brimming with holiday decorations. At the end of your shift, you will return the mail van to the post office, and from there, you will progress the actual story of the game via cutscenes and dialogues. Considering this is set around Christmas, most of the evenings are cozy inside warm rooms with plenty of décor, friends, and sometimes a good book or a show.
With games like Lake: Season’s Greetings, the gameplay mostly serves as a filler because the main story is told via cutscenes anyway. The gameplay might feel a little monotonous after a while but the different cutscenes keep them alive and there is an actual sense of progression and the world around you react to different events that you see in the cutscenes. For example, when the news van breaks down, if you head back to the workshop, you will see the broken down news van there with a tow truck. Similarly, different NPCs and other characters will keep different locations alive with their movement. The roads have traffic although not much. There is a little fox running around in the woods as well near the main town.
I love how the developers have given attention to some cool little details as well like how Thomas would sometimes wear his glasses to check the letters before putting them inside the mailboxes and how the buildings have an interior this time around. Some of the buildings did not have any sort of interior in the original Lake such as the workshop but in Lake: Season’s Greetings, you can go inside the workshop, interact with the owners, and check out what is happening inside right from the windows. This makes sense because the whole world of Providence Oaks was already designed so adding more details was much easier this time around. You will notice these additions all over the town apart from the obvious holiday makeover.
Apart from the town’s overhaul, the rest of the in-game details are pretty much the same. The NPCs look the same, but their interactions are much warmer this time around. You can actually feel this warmth during the dialogues because unlike Meredith, Thomas and his wife have been living in Providence Oaks for a long time and everyone treats them like family. Most of the conversations feel like actual friends are talking with each other. There is some drama here and there but that is all part of the story. Unfortunately, this time around there are no multiple endings and all dialogue choices lead to the same ending. There are no achievements this time around either, which is another bummer for players looking to unlock brand-new achievements for the game.
As of now, there are a few technical issues with Lake: Season’s Greetings that hinder your gameplay. One of the most prominent ones is that the game does not detect your save games after you quit and start the game again. You have to switch to the original Lake game and then back to Season’s Greetings to make it detect your save games. I am not sure if this issue is specific to the Xbox version or happens on other platforms too. Apart from this, the audio was missing for certain dialogue lines and the pop-in textures in open areas such as the farm were plenty. The audio issues also extend to other elements such as the mail truck’s engine noise. In some areas, driving around while it was snowing caused the framerates to drop a lot. These are not necessarily game-breaking bugs, but these should be fixed to ensure that the overall experience is not ruined by anything. Lake: Season’s Greetings certainly lives up to the first game, but it needs a little bit more bug-fixing at this point.
Lake: Season’s Greetings is a great prequel to an already amazing game. While the original Lake was a delightful experience on its own, Season’s Greetings makes it even cozier with a holiday theme and delivers a brand-new perspective on Providence Oaks and its people. The only problem with it is that it ends too soon and does not come with any post-completion content. The little town of Providence Oaks is a delight to explore in winter and if you enjoyed the base game, you would certainly love the new prequel. It is the perfect game to tuck in on a cold evening and enjoy as you can easily complete it in one sitting. If you are looking for some cozy and enjoyable games to play this Christmas, Lake: Season’s Greetings should be on your list.
Final Score: 8.5/10