Developer: Space Slug Studios
Release Date: June 17, 2021
Yet another title I didn’t come anywhere close to putting a full hour into, but I knew just minutes into the game that this one was very much Not For Me.
Writing the store descriptions for a game where the mystery is the draw must be a nightmare. You want to be truthful, so that your players don’t feel like they were drawn in under false pretenses, but you also want to make sure that when the game reveals its secrets, it’s impactful. It’s not a job I would want to do.
Welcome to Lakewood is a horror adventure game where the description is … sort of accurate. You do indeed go to a small town where people have been going missing, you do talk to people, and you may even find a clue or two, depending on how much you like clicking on random stuff.
It’s possible that someone who “got it” in a way I did not would manage to solve the case, but I didn’t have it in me. The protagonist died in Lakewood without really knowing very much at all. I wasn’t sure if I clicked retry if it would start me at the beginning of the scene or the beginning of the game, but I declined to continue this experience either way.
Welcome to Lakewood almost felt more like a proof of concept than a real game. Early on, you have to navigate through the woods, and tall trees and tiny branches are equally effective in blocking your path. Sure, it’s dark and creepy, but it was also illogical that you couldn’t step over a small bush or push through some tree branches. It was in a similar circumstance where I couldn’t navigate what looked like completely passable terrain that led to my untimely demise.
The conversations you have with people while investigating are not particularly interesting or enlightening, and neither is the town itself. I’m actually not sure why people travel to Lakewood in the first place – there’s not much of anything there, and it doesn’t even really appear to be on the way to anywhere, at least not according the rudimentary map you have. How many people are really heading to a town that only has a service station, a motel, and a bar cleverly named “BAR”?
While I couldn’t manage to suspend my disbelief for a hot minute, and I did not enjoy my time in Lakewood, there are some really clever moments here. They just don’t combine smoothly into a great investigative experience. As a pure horror game, Welcome to Lakewood might pass, but if you’re looking for a great mystery story, it’s probably better to pass on this one.
SteamDB estimates that Welcome to Lakewood has sold somewhere between 200 and 500 copies on Steam. It’s good a decent ratio of good reviews to bad, but there’s a few that are a little hard to take too seriously. It is ranked 6617 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.