Lamplight City is a point-and-click detective adventure game from Francisco Gonzalez set in the mid-1840s of an alternative past. Your partner is dead (and in your head) and it’s up to you to solve the case.
This is a classic detective adventure game very much in the style of the Lucas Arts games of the mid-1990s. The art style, gameplay and music are familiar and comforting. The objective of the game is to deduce ‘whodunnit’ across a number of cases, however, the twist here in Lamplight City is that you can accuse the wrong person, and this can have consequences down the line for the outcomes in the game. As such you can play the game on the straight and narrow, good cop style, or you can choose the alternative route and see how you get on.
Lamplight City is set in an alternative-past New Bretagne set in a version of the 1840’s. Steam technology is the major technological leap of the era. A new technology called Aethericity is up and coming but many residents of New Bretagne are sceptical and stick to traditional methods. The game starts out with Miles Fordham and Bill Leger, detectives with New Bretagne police department. You play as Miles and together with Bill, you’re investigating a seemingly normal case at a local flower shop. There’s been a break-in and the owner is suspicious of how and why someone is breaking in, stealing Lillies and leaving the money behind. Miles and Bill wait it out in the shop for the thief to come back and Bill chases the robber onto the roof. Bill gets caught by the thief and held at gunpoint and urges Miles to save him. Miles tries to talk him down but ends up shooting Bill while trying to save him and Bill falls from the roof to the pavement below.
We cut to 3 months later to see a dishevelled Miles getting out of bed. He’s been fired from the Police and Bill is still hanging around as a voice in Miles’ head. You’re objective becomes clear, you have to solve the mystery of who was on the florist roof that night that led to Bill’s untimely demise. Poor old Miles though is very stressed out, having Bill hanging around constantly nagging him to solve the mystery is keeping him up at night and the voices can only be quietened by a combination of booze and sleeping pills. This is also putting a strain on Miles’ marriage, further adding to the daily stress.
Although Miles has officially been given leave from his role at the force, he has some friends there who are drip-feeding some cases off the books, which keeps Miles busy and slowly works his way towards his ultimate goal of solving the murder of his partner and friend, Bill. The writing in the game is good, with Bill offering up quips and commentary-a-plenty to Miles as he goes about trying to solve cases. The dialogue is progressive and critical of the homophobia and racism that is still apparent in this era.
The gameplay in Lamplight City is similar to other point and click adventure games where you navigate around the space, click on items and pick up clues that you’ll later use to solve puzzles. Here the controls are nice and easy, left click to click on a thing (which is contextual) and you also have your case book which contains clues as to where to go and what to do next. The interesting part of Lamplight City is you can make the wrong deduction and you can proceed through the game as normal.
The objective here is to gather clues and evidence while working with your former partner Bill. There are 5 cases to solve and you have to work out what’s going on with the situation and once you’re confident make a deduction and aim to close the case. It is possible to accuse the wrong person, while you won’t get a game over you may have some story elements locked off to you later in the game. It does give the game a certain amount of replay value albeit not immediately obvious.
Lamplight City graphics are heavily inspired by Monkey Island or Simon The Sorcerer with the characters designed in a fantastic pixel art render. Backgrounds in the game are dark and dank which fits the mood of the game perfectly. Although the game isn’t incredibly large, what we have is realised extremely well and the art is beautifully done. The audio in the game is done well and in the game like this the voice acting is very important, luckily here it’s done well and the lip-syncing on the character models is also done brilliantly.
Overall I enjoyed my playthrough of Lamplight City. The puzzles are interesting and the premise of the game is neat too, where you can go down the wrong path and the game doesn’t hold your hand too much. It may be lacking in overall wow moments but fans of the point and click adventure game genre will have a good time with the game.
Developer: Grundislav Games
Released: September 13th 2018