Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: Our Lady of the Drowned Lake, Zero Reporter

Our Lady of the Drowned Lake, Zero Reporter is the short but sweet story of an amateur journalist taking a midnight dip into the deep black waters of a local lake. The lake, bearing the unbelievably ominous name “Our Lady of the Drowned,” does not deter our hero from some night fishing even when his guide is nowhere to be found. With camera and rod, he pushes off into the darkness with the hopes of catching something interesting. 

Conceptual Meta-Wank:

Who doesn’t love a good fishing trip? Especially one with a fishing line long enough to pull up creatures from the abyss.Taking one of humankind’s most beloved ancient hunting forms and adding in the terror of thalassophobia. there’s something so simple and elegant about fishing horror. Our Lady of the Drowned Lake, Zero Reporter, despite the time limit of a game jam, has created something truly incredible. 

The closest parallel I can find for Our Lady of the Drowned Lake, Zero Reporter is one of my personal favorite nautical horror games, Sunless Sea. Much like OLotDLZR, which I’m going to further simplify to Old Lazer, they’re both top-down games where you sail around a delightfully unsettling body of water hoping to find only the good stuff and not run into any of the bad. 

Non-Wanky Game Recap:

Our Lady of the Drowned Lake, Zero Reporter is a top-down game where you sail around dark waters looking for fish to fish for. Unlike Sunless Sea’s gun-based combat, Old Lazer instead has the stakes in the fishing minigame itself. When catching a fish, you need to be as quiet as possible. Reeling in quickly might get the job done faster, but you risk raising your noise level. And you wouldn’t want to alert… something… to your presence. 

What Works:

It’s a simple game but I think it’s neat. Our Lady of the Drowned Lake, Zero Reporter has an incredible VHS aesthetic, and adding in the narrative of a naive landlubber journalist going into dangerous waters past bedtime makes for a tremendous premise. The story is told through the monologue of the protagonist as he catches fish and garbage and occasionally an ancient totem or the like. The RNG minigame makes for some more risky fishing maneuvers than your traditional fishing minigame, making Old Lazer somewhat comparable to a game like FTL (short for Faster than Light, not Fishin’ that Lake!!!!!)

What Doesn’t:

Our Lady of the Drowned Lake, Zero Reporter was a game created for a game jam, and therefore some content was necessarily cut for the purpose of submitting the game on time. Old Lazer ends, spoiler alert, with the option of giving an ‘offering’ to a drowned creature, one can assume for the purpose of not becoming drowned yourself. With the objects you collect, you can donate a donation, though the outcome never seems to change. That said, it is an ambiguous ending, the simplicity, and ingenuity of which I can certainly appreciate. 

How To Fix It:

Developer Monumental has stated that they plan to release a full version or sequel of Our Lady of the Drowned Lake, Zero Reporter sometime soon, which means that my only complaint about the abrupt ending might soon be expanded upon. I appreciate an ambiguous story, but at the same time, I would appreciate some expanded lore. Maybe some alternate characters investigating the lake, with different interpretations of the objects found? Regardless, I certainly look forward to playing whatever Monumental puts out next. 

Wanky Musings:

There’s something about fishing and horror that go together like peanut butter and jelly, or peanut butter and a scary monster hiding in the dark. Our Lady of the Drowned Lake, Zero Reporter doesn’t even have a creature you can see, but its presence beneath the surface is ever present and creates both paralyzing fear and dire urgency. Old Lazer is a worthy addition to the top-down nautical horror, which is a genre I would certainly love to see gain a few more titles. 

You can download Our Lady of the Drowned Lake, Zero Reporter on itch.io by clicking here.