Game Review: Lamplight City

Lamplight City

A well lit look into Grundislav Games' latest release.

The universe of Lamplight City is rich, complex and oddly familiar. The game draws on that ever-popular theme of a steampunk alternative universe, adding dashes of Victorian squalor and just a pinch of 1950's detective tropes. Is it just a mishmash of clichés then? Yes, but it all works well together to form a likable and somewhat unique universe—like a cheesy movie, you can't help but fall in love with Lamplight City.

Figure 1. The Lamplight City Universe

Figure 2. Some Protesters

In Lamplight City, you play Miles Fordham, a disgraced detective turned PI following the death of his partner in Act I at the hands of a mysterious killer. Miles is accompanied by the ghostly voice of his partner Bill as a sort of schizophrenic inner monologue. It's creepy, and it's a perfect example of taking a classic trope and turning it into one of the game's biggest strengths. Bill's monologues add witty flavour to the dry protagonist and a way to explain details and scenarios to the player.

Figure 3. Miles Fordham's Schizophrenic Dialogue

Lamplight City features multiple cases that are all tied together with an overarching story. More impressively though is the overarching story's effect on the individual cases. In my play-through, mistakes I made in one case affected another and effectively led to another case becoming unsolvable. This is a system I instinctively hated. It seemed unjustly punitive to punish players for simply exploring dialogue options. Over time, however, as the music and art slowly enveloped me into a universe I truly enjoyed exploring and experiencing, I began to see how subtleties are at the center of this universe. What at first is dismissed as unimportant or underwhelming later appears as a subtle smack in the face, with that familiar feeling of "Oh, I knew I shouldn't have done that!"