The Lamplighters League Review

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There’s a fun cocktail party of ideas to be found within The Lamplighters League. Wearing its pulpy 1930s serial inspirations on its sleeve, featuring a cast of uniquely talented characters against equally fiendish enemies in a race against time, and blending together turn-based strategy with real time exploration, it’s an almost perfect recipe for an engaging plot and action. In practice, though, the Lamplighters League just misses the mark, with its performance and narrative.

The Lamplighters League is in crisis and the world in peril, with nearly all of the Lamplighters dead and the three main villains – known as the Scions of the Banished Court – close to achieving their goals to seize a source of unlimited power. The final Lamplighter, Locke, is reduced to scraping the barrel and recruit rogues, thieves, and killers to his cause. They are no Lamplighters, but they have no qualms about getting the job done as long as they are paid. In the introductory missions you are introduced to Ingrid, Lateef, and Eddie, the first of Locke’s recruits. Ingrid is a brawler who gets in close and personal with her fists, Lateef is a thief who can use misdirection to confuse enemies and fire from range, and Eddie is a two handed gunslinger.

The initial missions explore the skills of each of these characters in quite simplistic situations, but once those are complete, The Lamplighters League opens up and introduces the true threats and challenges. The Lamplighters are in a race against time with the Scions, who steadily grow in power as time passes. A world map is presented giving options of different missions to tackle, divided by side and critical missions.

The side missions are a mix of recruiting new agents to the Lamplighters, gathering resources, and reducing the threat of each Scion. However, for every mission that you take on that might delay one Scion’s threat, the other two will be able to consolidate and grow in power. Occasionally, the Scions themselves will be available to fight in some side missions as they oversee operations, and defeating them nets more resources as well as halting their progress a bit.

Scions are powerful and you really don’t want to fight them alongside other groups of their henchmen if it can be helped. This is where the mix of real time and turn-based action comes in. In real time mode you can move around the map as you please, coping out the layout of the map, enemy placements, and resources. Each agent also has an ability that can be used to enable this or tip forthcoming battles in your favour. For example, Lateef can sneak up behind enemies and take them down with one hit, while Ingrid can charge at enemies in a straight line and take a couple down that way.

Lamplighters League Exploration

You can choose to trigger turn based combat at any time with actions from this alerting enemies, and shifting the combat to turn-based until it that encounter is completed. This can be used to your advantage by isolating an enemy, say a Scion, and starting combat with them while they are away from the rest of the pack.

The strategic combat of The Lamplighters League is solid, and allows for a decent mix of approaches with the characters you have against the varied enemy types. There are also additional buffs thanks to cards that are earned at the end of missions that can be equipped to any agent. For example, one card may allow a character to create a poison trap, while another has a higher chance of causing daze. If you have multiples of the same cards you can stack them too.

Much like other games in this genre, such as XCOM, chance plays a role in if your attack will land, with the odds presented to you as a percentage, and impacted by things such as distance and other penalties. Encounters come with the threat that agents can be lost forever if they are downed one too many times, leaving gaps in the team and making success a little harder. However, even with that threat the majority of encounters are generally manageable, and the loss of characters is rare. If you do lose someone, you can always reload a save to bring them back and try a new approach.

The maps do repeat and are not actually that big for the most part. They are usually divided into an area where the main objective is, and where the escape path lies, though there are sometimes optional areas that will contain additional resources, which can be used to purchase items from the supplier. These items include grenades, health packs, and armour. The small size and repeated use of maps and sometimes objectives does this globe spanning adventure feel a bit less global.

Lamplighters League Combat

My time with The Lamplighters League on Xbox Series X was plagued with technical issues too. For example, the loading screen before missions features a plane with a description of the mission. Sometimes the plane is not there, sometimes you can just see the propellers, and on one occasion the game completely crashed. In some missions there are frustrating moments where you could be down to one enemy but they have run away, so you are wasting time getting your squad into range. It would also be good to have an option to skip attack animations in larger encounters. Sometimes enemies act a bit erratically, not really moving and attacking as you would expect. They could be in prime position to land an attack, but will instead do something daft like move away. Helpful in a bind, but far from expected.

The main narrative of The Lamplighter’s League is not that engaging either, which is a shame considering the overall plot could be really fun if written better. Between missions, you can trigger character dialogues giving a bit of insight into their lives and the relationships they have with each other, but it doesn’t draw you in.

The Lamplighters League doesn't quite live up to its promise and expectations. There's a fun mix of real time exploration and turn-based combat, but it's a step short of the best strategy games of the year – others like Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew have done it better. Given more time and more engaging narrative The Lamplighters League could have been great. It will have to settle for decent at best.
  • Variety of agents with different skills
  • Challenge is good with escalating peril
  • Mix of real time and turn-based strategy is fun
  • Lots of technical issues
  • Narrative is not engaging as it could be
  • Repetitive missions and maps
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From the heady days of the Mega Drive up until the modern day gaming has been my main hobby. I'll give almost any game a go.