Some months ago we wrote about Lamplight City, Grundislav Games‘ newest game. This is Francisco Gonzalez’s first game after making Shardlight as part of Wadjet Eye Games. At first Wadjet Eye was supposed to publish it, but some creative differences led to an amicable split and Application Systems Heidelberg are Lamplight City‘s publisher.
Application Systems has a good track record as a publisher of adventure games. They have released jewels like Nelly Cootalot and Unforeseen Consequences. And Lamplight City is another mark on that good track record.
What’s Lamlight City About?
Lamplight City is an adventure game. It’s set in a Victorian steampunk version of the US. To be more specific, in a city called New Bretagne. New Bretagne could be considered a love child between New Orleans and New York.
We play as Miles Fordham, a former police officer that has left the force after a traumatic incident in which his partner, Bill Leger, died. Miles works as a private investigator, working cases that a former co-worker gives him on the sly. But things aren’t as simple for him, because apart from the trauma of seeing his partner die, he hears his voice constantly.
And there’s only one thing Bill wants. He wants Miles to get the person responsible for his death. Otherwise he won’t rest in peace. Or let you rest.
What Can You Tell Me About Lamplight City?
Lamplight City has five different cases that we’ll have to solve. Each case will take us to different places of the four boroughs in which New Bretagne is divided. These are Lyon, Gascogne, Worcester and Cholmondeley (the Chum for shot, remember it’s pronounced Chumley).
Each case will send us to different parts of the town, and we’ll deal with colourful characters. Such as the family of a grande dame who was buried alive, a rich family whose baby has been kidnapped and so on.
These cases have nothing to do with the one that led to Bill’s death, but they’re important regardless of that. It’s like a procedural TV show with a central mystery, a lot of the cases have nothing to do with said mystery but they’re important for character development and other similar things. Besides, by solving these cases Miles is getting his groove back before helping Bill move forward. Still, everything is connected here.
There are interesting things about the game, there’s no inventory at all. While there are items we get to pick up, and use, Miles does that automatically. The only thing the game keeps track of is the evidence you find. It also incorporates Miles hearing Bill’s voice in an interesting way, when we examine things we hear Bill’s thoughts. Unless we piss him off.
Real Detective Work
Lamplight City is the kind of game that LA Noire should’ve been. There’s a real sense of fulfillment in solving the cases. Each case has several suspects and different pieces of evidence that can lead us to different solutions, and you can even fail to solve a case altogether. Though if screw up too much then it might either end up in jail or in the asylum.
Your actions might shut down some avenues of investigation. For example, a character might refuse to talk to you because you’ve done something in a previous case, your wife will refuse to help you because you’ve apologized too much after making an ass out of yourself and pissed her off. Or maybe you just asked something really inappropriate. Repeatedly.
This is where the beauty of Lamplight City lies. It doesn’t take you by the hand to solve linear cases. There’s always more than one option. And failure is one of them.
- Branching cases.
- A proper detective game.
- Simplified interface with no inventory but a comprehensive casebook.
- The setting, and the characters.
- The influences from Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers to Dickens and Poe.
- It ends.
Lamplight City is not only a great adventure game, but a great detective game. When you play it you won’t feel like the game’s pushing you to a specific solution, it’s up to you to decide what trails to follow and who to accuse. And if you fail then you fail. More games should have this approach.
Here’s hoping this isn’t the last we see of New Bretagne, or these characters.