Score: 8/10 | POINT-AND-CLICK | DETECTIVE ADVENTURE | MATURE CONTENT
“Lamplight City is a great detective point-and-click game that gives me the feel of oldschool games like Monkey Island and Quest For Glory IV, yet puts me right into the sleuthing shoes of 19th-century Miles trying to solve murders and missing person cases where your choices will affect the outcome of each case.”
Lamplight City is a point-and-click detective adventure game developed by Grundislav Games and published by Application Systems Heidelberg. The game was released on Steam and GOG.com on September 13, 2018. It’s a visual throwback to some of the 90’s classic point-and-click adventure games like Monkey Island and Quest for Glory which was one of the main attractions for me. The detective nature also hooked me in as it gave me vibes of Jack-The-Ripper and Sherlock Holmes stories.
Set in the Victorian 19th-century city of New Bretagne, otherwise known as the Gateway to Vespuccia, the City of Air and Light, Lamplight City, you play as Miles Fordham, a detective turned private investigator whose partner was killed and you are haunted by his voice. Miles takes drugs and alcohol to numb the voice so he can get some sleep, but this has taken a toll on his relationship with his wife Adelaide. Miles was working on a case with his partner, the theft of some Easter Lilies from a flower shop when Bill was killed, so this unsolved case is always in the back of your mind as you work through five cases over the course of the game’s story. Bill’s voice in Miles’ his head is constant, willing you to solve the initial case that got him killed, and helps to narrate the story or a scene you are investigating. It adds more character to the game than if it was just Miles’ inner monologue, and adds some good humour to some of the grim scenes you’ll come across.
Whilst the game gives you initial evidence of a given case, it’s up to you as to how you investigate each crime scene, interrogate suspects and interview witnesses. You have a casebook that you can refer to which contains all important notes and information that you’ve collected so far, and I referred to this often. You are sometimes given conversation options with suspects/witnesses and these can either help or hinder your investigations, and as Bill warns, if you push a witness too hard they can shut down that whole line of questioning and close off that witness/location to you. This happened to me a couple of times – the first was a minor inconvenience, however the second example halted my progress completely on a case and this meant I couldn’t find sufficient evidence elsewhere, so had to declare the case unsolvable. The story carries on based on your decisions, with newspaper articles explaining how police solved that case which gave me some forehead-slapping insight into what I got wrong.
In other cases, I was impressed with how my thought process aligned with the clues from that case and a well-earned achievement at the end when I found enough evidence to catch the bad guy. There are many objects to look/point at in each scene, and sometimes I was tearing my hair out trying to figure out what to do next. There is no inventory system so you can’t use old tricks of trying every inventory item with every interactable object in the scene. In one particular instance, I eventually clicked on a painted portrait which usually just had Bill make some throwaway comment on how that person looks in the portrait, however this then opened up a whole new line of questioning which eventually led me to solve the case. So it’s worth clicking on everything you see that highlights.
The final case though had me threatened by the police commissioner who would throw me in jail for obstructing official investigations if I didn’t solve the case in time. As I progressed the case I thought I was onto the killer, however my OCD quest-completion nature caused me to go off on tangents. I subsequently got mugged at one location and woke up after several hours, of which landed me in jail as I took too long to solve the case. This abruptly ended the game and the credits rolled. I wasn’t content with that, and thankfully the autosave placed me right before my dumb decision, so i was then able to complete the case and rightfully catch the bad guy to complete the story. Lamplight City has some good replayability to try to solve every case perfectly.
The voice acting is really well done, with over 50 professionally voiced characters throughout the game. The music also helps to set the mood and tone of the game, mixed with the dark graphics really put you into Miles’ shoes. I like that you can stuff up cases by asking the wrong questions, as some games just add conversation options for the hell of it and like in most adventure games, we often want to hear every conversation option available to us from each character. However, this game balances the good with the bad and makes you pay for wrong choices, even with Bill warning you not to push further. After all, you are investigating a murder or missing child case, so you need to play seriously to get to the truth and be delicate with distraught witnesses.
There were times where I solved the case but had some evidence trails that I hadn’t fully progressed, and there are many achievements still hidden, so there are a few ways to solve each case if you wanted to play through the game again. Even now, I just re-watched the release trailer again as I pasted the link into this article and I noticed some actions/scenes which I completely missed, so it makes me want to go back and complete those cases again to get some justice! For anyone looking to play this game, I would recommend creating a save point at the start of each case. This way, if you stuff things up you can reload, but also if you solve a case but feel you could have done more, you can try again without having to go through the whole game again like I will have to.
Overall I gave the game an 8/10. Lamplight City is a great detective point-and-click game that gives me the feel of oldschool games like Monkey Island and Quest For Glory IV, yet puts me right into the sleuthing shoes of 19th-century Miles trying to solve murders and missing person cases where your choices will affect the outcome of each case. You need to carefully analyse each scene by clicking objects and using clever conversation options to interrogate suspects or coax answers out of witnesses. Cases can be solved a number of ways so there’s good replay value in this game.
This review utilised the Steam version of the game with 7 hours of gameplay. Lamplight City can be purchased through Steam or GOG.com.