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It is December 1985. Thomas Weiss works for the local post office in the fictional snow-covered small town of Providence Oaks (P.O.), which is located south of Melville in the US state of Oregon on the west coast. Thomas and his wife Emily are preparing for Christmas and are eagerly awaiting their daughter Meredith’s visit. We already know Meredith, after all, in the main game she took over her father’s duties while her parents were on vacation in Florida. Seasons’s Greetings is a prequel, set almost a year before the events of Lake. While the dialogues with the residents of P.O. were not one of the base game’s strengths, the main story was partially still quite interesting. In the first expansion the focus doesn’t seem to be on the story as there isn’t really a main plot to follow. First we prepare for Christmas and then we take part in the New Year’s Eve festivities. In a side story we learn how our colleague Frank Coleman slowly gets on the wrong track and becomes targetted by law enforcement. That’s the most exciting story arch in Season’s Greetings.
In P.O. we meet various characters we know from Lake, such as the cat lady Maureen Hennesy, who runs the diner, or Angie Eastman, with whom we can enter into a romance in Lake. The dialogues range from entertaining over cheesy to embarrassingly clumsy, such as the way Angie comes out to Thomas. What’s nice is that we’re given a lot more dialogue options than in the base game. However, our decisions usually have little impact or are sometimes simply ignored by our counterparts. At least we learn more about the game world through the dialogues, such as a TV crew filming in P.O. brimming with pop culture references. During the discussions we can also do small favors usually ending up in us delivering more packages. The fake film posters in the video store once again poke fun at classics such as Terminator, Ghostbusters and Superman. What’s less beautiful are the facial expressions of the characters, which lack expressiveness, as charming as the characters were designed. A slightly larger selection of camera angles would have benefited the numerous cutscenes.
The daily routine from Lake was retained in Season’s Greetings: We roam the vast world in our van, deliver letters and packages and interact with family and friends in the evening. This structure is rarely broken and so everything seems quite predictable. As in the base game, the van controls well and cannot take any damage. This time we seem to be able to drive a little more through the wild without being stopped by invisible barriers. The game still doesn’t let us go onto the frozen lake which has lent the game its name. We have no time pressure whatsoever and can pull up to the individual locations marked on the map in any order. Both the interior design and the decoration on the houses are detailled and interesting, inviting veterans to another tour through P.O. Fast travel and auto-pilot functions shorten long journeys. That’s helpful, because as nice as the ambience is, we’ve quickly seen all of it and listened to every song on the radio several times. The soundtrack includes new songs suitable for the season as well as songs known from the base game. While Lake had just a few modeled interiors, we see a lot more of them in Season’s Greetings. The expansion can be completed within four to five hours of play.
Season’s Greetings is not free from technical errors and so we often find drivers standing in the middle of the road. The streets that are somewhat busier than in the base game. The performance on Xbox Series X is slightly better than in the base game, but textures, objects and shadows load even more slowly than they already did. Luckily the van doesn’t go too fast, so the constant pop-ins are still acceptable. Since November 15th, 2023 Season’s Greetings is available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.
If you’re looking for a relaxing Sunday afternoon, the Season’s Greetings extension for Lake is a good option. The download content offers more of the tried and tested – relaxed driving around a beautifully modeled smalltown, kitschy dialogues with the residents and a healthy dose of country flavour. Thematically, Lake – Season’s Greetings fits well into the current pre-Christmas season and so we can recommend the expansion if you liked the main game and would like to spend more time in Providence Oaks.
The publisher provided us with a review copy for Xbox Series X, which we used to capture the screenshots.