A first look at the crimes of Lamplight City

Point-and-clicks aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if there’s one game I’d ask you to make an exception for, it’s Lamplight City.

From the off, it draws you in with its quality artwork — squint, and the pixels may as well be part of an oil painting. And not only is its illustration top notch, but each character is fully voiced to exceptional standards for the genre. There’s nothing off or cheesy about Lamplight City — it’s a solid experience we were more than happy to preview.

Lamplight City tells the story of an emotionally disturbed detective who must solve crimes in the heart of a quasi-steampunk city, where traditional Victorian machinery and inventions are being replaced by the advent of the mysterious phenomenon of aethericity.

The sillhouette of a horse-drawn carriage travels in front of a lamp-lit scene of cobbled streets and stone buildings. An airship flies in the distance against a cloudy night sky.
As first impressions go, Lamplight City’s opening scene made us sit up and pay attention.

Mild spoilers follow below, but nothing more than you discover in the first five minutes of play.

Behind his case notes, and his tired and drug-drowsied mind, Detective Fordham is really trying to get to the bottom of another mystery — the murder of his one-time partner and friend, whose disembodied voice now haunts his every conscious moment. As you travel around investigating the city, Bill acts as prompt, guide and nagging influence, with a line for pretty much anything you click on. The repartee between him and Fordham is part of what makes playing Lamplight City so entertaining.

We were able to try out the very first case, which involved a fair serving of family feuds, secret experiments, prejudice and voodoo. It impressed us that the entire process felt so involved from beginning to end, with every person a puzzle waiting to be examined, even if they weren’t a suspect.

A map of New Bretagne (Lamplight City), where you must solve the first crime. Circular images mark points you can travel to.
Navigating between locations is as simple as it gets, but you have to unlock them first.

To solve cases, you have access to several locations across the city map. Talking to people and interacting with objects unlocks more locations as you go along, until you’ve discovered all you can and you’re ready to wrap up your case. Success isn’t guaranteed, though — we had two suspects in mind during our investigation and were almost ready to arrest the first before we found the second.

Talking to people is imperative in Lamplight City. Entering into conversation with someone switches to a darkened screen in talking-head style. You have a number of conversation topics you can pursue and, while you can choose to pursue all of them, that might affect your relationship with the character. More conversation options unlock as you uncover more of the mystery.

Two characters are illustrated side by side. One is talking.
While you can talk to people, doing so is not always helpful.

Interacting with objects proves to be more… well, interactive than in many point-and-click games. Every now and then, you have to use an item to pluck something from a gap in the wall or unlock a window latch, which you control by moving the mouse on the screen. To make things easier, you don’t have to worry about an inventory. If you can use an item on something, you just need to click the hotspot and you’re good to go.

We could say more in favour of Lamplight City, its denizens and its intriguing story, but really, all we need to say is that it promises to be a great experience. We’re eager to see how the wider story plays out when it hits its release date of ‘soon’. If you want to jump into a good mystery in a fantastic setting, keep an eye out for this.

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