Title: Lake Ridden
Available On: PC
Developer: Midnight Hub
Publisher: Midnight Hub
Genre: Action, Puzzle, Indie
Official Site: Lake Ridden
Release Date: May 10, 2018
Where to Buy: Steam ($19.99)
I’ll be honest, Lake Ridden was a difficult game to review. The things done well in the game are done really well, but there is a lot that can still be improved upon as well. If all you’re looking for is an interesting puzzle game with great visuals, then this is definitely the game for you. However, if you are hoping for a solid story surrounding those puzzles, then you’ll be disappointed by what this title has to offer.
While the developers have adamantly declared that this is not a horror game or a walking simulator, Lake Ridden is definitely comfortable with the supernatural. You play as a 13-year old girl Marie who is enjoying the last camping trip of the summer with your sister and a few friends. However, when an argument causes your younger sister to run away, it is your job to find her. This search takes you to an abandoned estate, which throws you into an age-old mystery that only you can solve by finding clues, solving puzzles, and visiting the estate’s inhabitants.
Before I continue much further, I would like to address my main (it’s a pretty big one) complaint about the game. About an hour into the game, I ran into a glitch that bumped me all the way to the end. After running around the estate for quite some time trying to locate my objective, I found myself in an unrendered section of the map. Unable to go back, I continued forward (thoroughly confused) and found myself within the last 10 minutes of the game. Needless to say, I was totally confused, and it wasn’t until I re-loaded Lake Ridden that I realized I had missed almost the entire game.
This was obviously frustrating, and it really ruined the experience of Lake Ridden the first time through. But, with that being said, even going back through the game didn’t clear up my confusion with the story. They really ask you to take some leaps in logic, and even then, things can still be a bit muddy. While this ambiguity may have been on purpose, there is a right way to leave the audience guessing, like Limbo or What Remains of Edith Finch. The muddy narrative is only made worse with odd voice-over work that is more annoying than helpful.
Where Lake Ridden truly shines is its creative and thought-provoking puzzles. These aren’t your everyday riddles, and it is obvious that the development team put a lot of time and effort into creating new types of puzzles. And let me tell you, these are not easy puzzles, and you never know what might actually be a part of a puzzle. So, make sure you do plenty of exploring. Luckily, there is a hint system that can walk you through anything you might find too incredibly difficult. But I would highly suggest having a pen and paper ready!
While the puzzles are fun for the most part, there are lots of opportunities to get lost. Despite its linear type of story, I spent a lot of time just trying to figure out where to go. And this ultimately led to the glitch that ruined the experience altogether for me. This really didn’t help in the sections of the game that were slow fetch quests. Your character moves incredibly slow, and any portion of the game that requires you to run back and forth feels like it takes forever. At least, Lake Ridden‘s visuals make all the running a visually pleasing experience, but that’s the only enjoyable thing about these segments of the game.
Overall, I really wanted to like Lake Ridden; I feel like with a little more time and a bit more polish and care, it really could have been something unique and special. After looking at the developer’s social media, it appears that they are continuously working to better the experience for the community. So, perhaps in a week or two, this will be a totally different experience. But it is hard to overlook the fact that these issues should have been taken care of before release. If anything else, you’ll definitely enjoy the puzzles!
Verdict: Midnight Hub’s Lake Ridden can be satisfying or utterly disappointing depending on what you’re looking for. If you are looking for interesting, difficult puzzles that force you to think outside of the box, this is definitely the game for you! However, if you’re hoping for a solid story to accompany those puzzles, then you’ll be slightly disappointed. That being said, if a glitch hadn’t allowed me to skip all the way to the end of my first playthrough, Lake Ridden would have had a higher score.
- Interesting, difficult puzzles
- Great visuals
- Confusing story
- Easy to get lost
- Glitch that allowed me to skip a majority of the game.