Steampunk murder mysteries ahead!
During my GDC adventure I was lucky enough to meet up with some very cool indie developers, one of which being the very cool Francisco González. Francisco is the creator of Lamplight City, a game that I feel is palatable to those who aren’t even fans of adventure games. Fun fact: Francisco and I had to use Twitter at one point to find each other during the busy hours of GDC – good times. Lamplight City didn’t leave that much of an impression on me till a few hours after the demo I saw. It was lingering in my mind and the more time I had it burned in my thoughts, the more I wanted to know about the game. Now to be honest, I am not really an adventure game fan. The peak of the genre was far before a time I was cognitive enough to really understand the complexities of the games. Despite that, I found myself gravitating to Lamplight City. Before I get ahead of myself though, let’s start with the premise of the game.
Lamplight City takes place in alternate 1800s history where the colonies never succeeded from England, so the colonies are still under British rule. You traverse this steampunk 1800s world as Miles Fordham, a former police officer turned private investigator. The twist being that Miles can hear the voice of his recently deceased partner who dies during a confrontation with a criminal. Now Miles must solve a series of cases, all while trying to find his partner’s murderer in attempt to get closure. At the heart of everything this story is a detective mystery drama, all within a unique steampunk world.
Now the plot of the game is cool, but what really stood out to me was the game’s narration being done by Miles’ dead partner. During my playthrough, it wasn’t incredibly clear whether the voice was actually there, or a manifestation of his guilt. This is super interesting to me, and it adds a lot of depth to Miles as a character. As the game continues Miles’ guilt is shown more profoundly, and it is impacted by the cases. This question of whether Miles is insane or not is something I can’t wait to solve.
Lamplight city takes place in a steampunk setting, and it looks as cool as it sounds. Francisco told me that the choice of an alternate history setting was made to lessen the limits of a historical setting, while still having elements that are identifiable to players. It is a breath of fresh air to see this setting in adventure game fashion. The game’s lore also reflects this steampunk aesthetic. The popularity of steampunk-esque machinery is called into question as the general population shows its disdain for the machinery after a catastrophic event. So the setting and aesthetic does have a lore importance as well.
The biggest thing I took away during my talk with Francisco and seeing the demo, was the importance of consequence. So the game is a detective mystery and during your playthrough you will have cases to solve. These cases aren’t linear experiences either, as you will have to use your wits and finesse to solve these. Something that I thought was really cool is that you can actually not solve the cases, or convict the wrong person and the game will proceed as normal. Lamplight City has multiple endings and how well you do on each case affects the ending. Failure is very much an option but you’re never explicitly told that. The story will continue regardless of your decisions, but you will have to live with the consequences.
Despite the little time I had with Lamplight City, I think it’s incredibly promising. I enjoyed the steampunk elements, detective noir mystery, the good-ass pixel art and the importance of consequence. Something I want to touch on lightly is that there is a very streamlined inventory and click interface that takes the monotony out of puzzles, which is very convenient for people like me. Overall, this game has a lot going for it, and I encourage you to check it out even if you’re not an adventure game buff. I did an interview with Francisco González about the game as well as other topics. I highly encourage you to check that out and keep checking back here at Hey Poor Player for more news about Lamplight City when it arrives.