Lamplight City is a narrative-focused detective story that strives to stand out thanks to its steampunk vibes. The classic tropes of the genres have been used mildly: luddism and fear towards the new steam-based technology melds with noir vibes about a solo detective with ghosts from its past. Despite its good writing, the story is not strong enough to settle the game as a “steampunk noir” classic, but it sure is good enough to entertain the player for a few hours of above average narration.
If you play for the story, this is a good mystery game with well written relationships and some introspection about love, hate, friendship and grief. Great characters and dialogues overall, but still not enough in my opinion to really stand out. The game has a decent worldbuilding, but the single detective cases can be pretty boring at times.
If you play for the art and atmosphere, this is where the game really shines. Detailed scenarios, good animations, excellent lightning, outstanding voice over and background music. Tons of locations to visit, all made with love: the town is a pleasure to explore, and it’s too bad that you’ll visit some locations only once. If you are into steampunk and pixel art, you’ll love the game aesthetics.
If you play for the challenge, I’m sorry to say there isn’t any here. The gameplay only consists of dialogue and exploration, with detective cases that basically solve by themselves. The main design idea of the game is punishing the player with a dead end in case they choose the wrong dialogue option in certain (few, fortunately) circumstances. I found myself cut out of gameplay just for saying “I’m a detective” instead of something else, in a situation where I had no hints about that specific answer being so dangerous. This means you’ll need to save often, but overall it’s not a big deal, just some frustration around the corner.
The game is quite long, I’d say 10-12 hours, and that’s a positive.
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Time Played: 10-20 hours