Part horror game part comedy of errors, Roope Tamminen's puzzle game Lakeview Cabin at first seems like little more than a "quiet weekend simulator" as you guide a voiceless ginger-haired man around a quiet lakeside cottage. Use the [arrow] keys to move, [X] to interact and use or drop items you've picked up, and [Z] to pick up/throw items. You can also hit [R] to restart. The goal? Well... that takes a bit of exploration and experimentation, and the game offers virtually nothing in the way of direction or explanation to help you. As day turns to night and back again, you can trundle around chopping wood, annoying bees, wrestling with your obstinate rideable mower, even shucking off your clothes if you feel like it. After all, it's just you and nature out here, right? It's, like, all idyllic and jOH MY GOSH WHAT IS THAT
Violence aside, which is admittedly fairly gross in a way that I will detail in a spoilered comment below this article for those of you who have certain sensitivities, Lakeview Cabin's main problem isn't the frustrating aiming or the way you can't just sidestep certain hazards. It's that it has so many red herrings, intentionally so, and so few "right" solutions to surviving. The game frequently gives little feedback as to why something doesn't work, or whether you're making progress or not, and just as many players will find the deliberate trial-and-error design of the gameplay frustrating as those will appreciate the madcap challenge of it. There are multiple solutions to your "problems", at least. You'll initially have to wait two in game days for the pivotal moment to happen, and then the game will give you a means of triggering it yourself for when you inevitably have to retry. Winning actually only takes you a minute once you know what to do, but getting to that point sort of starts to feel like you're playing your own version of Supernatural's "Mystery Spot", only without the pig in a poke.
Still, despite the lack of text or outright exposition, I wouldn't call Lakeview Cabin without a narrative. There is a story, it's just contextual, gleaned from the details in your surroundings... like the photo above the bed, the alcohol lying around, the isolation... the sounds you hear when you think you're alone. If the ending were more satisfying, or satisfying at all given the disturbing things you're forced to do, Lakeview Cabin would be a great example of a horror story open to interpretation. But despite its flaws, its clever twist on the concept of a puzzle game wrapped inside a surprising and atmospheric experience is still worth checking out, and something I hope we see explored more in the future.