The Lamplighters League is a turn-based tactics game that feels much like a blending of gaming action reminiscent of the XCOM franchise with an Indiana Jones-like story. And like many Indy tales, this game also leans pretty heavily into the supernatural realm. Gamers send out their ragtag team to stop evil baddies and dark forces from ending the world.
With pulpy character designs and stylish panache, The Lamplighters League plops gamers down somewhere in an alternate version of the 1930s. Some powerful forces—three rival houses collectively known as the Banished Court—all want to wield power in the world by using dark supernatural powers.
A mysterious explorer named Locke discovers the families’ schemes and decides to stand in their way. He recruits a gaggle of gifted scoundrels and criminals to form a group called the Lamplighters League, a collection of daredevils who are willing to do just about anything for the hope of a decent payday. And you have the job of guiding their movements toward that baddie-thwarting victory.
Lamplighters is all about recruiting and managing new teammates, taking on missions and doing everything possible to slow down the Banished Court. Each Banished Court family has its own Doomsday Clock gauge that Lamplighter missions can strategically slow or temporarily stop. If, however, one of those family gauges fills to the top, the game ends.
Missions are spread across the globe and cover a wide variety of objectives. Some are infiltration and recon jobs, recruitment quests or sabotage and assassination attempts. Others involve larger heists or attempts to take out a bigwig leading one of the three families. But all eventually evolve into turn-based battles.
There are 11 different possible agents to recruit. These agents can only be enlisted if sought out during special missions. Each agent comes with his or her own passive and active abilities, but those abilities are generally split into three categories. Saboteurs can pick locks and lay shock traps for the enemy; Sneaks move quietly and can perform instant takedowns; and Bruisers are melee-focused and can even knock down crumbling walls.
You move your team of three chosen agents (four for larger missions) around a field with varying levels of protection. Battles take into account the line of sight, the cover agents are hiding behind, and the kind of attacks being used as determining factors of the success or failure of a melee or ranged attack.
This is a single-player-only game. Some cutscenes draw the camera in close to characters, but the majority of the action is seen from a three-quarter bird’s eye, third-person view.
The Lamplighters League is a very good-looking game filled with stylish 1930s flair. The music and settings help support that natty design. And the game offers a nice blend of action-adventure quests and turn-based battles, without getting overly messy in its action.
The strategic battle scenarios are well-designed and challenging.
The game is filled with dark sneaking and fighting sequences. For the most part, the bloodletting is kept at a distance and the combat is relatively cartoonish. But characters are shot, stabbed, set on fire and electrocuted. Characters are also mind-controlled and blinded by other’s special abilities.
For that matter, though the Lamplighter group is the heroic force in this game, the group members aren’t always the nicest people. You can recruit a rage-fueled gangster, a morally dubious physicist, an elite sniper assassin, a magic-tossing mage and/or a hard-hitting femme fatale, for instance. And while none of them seem like terrible people, criminal activity and death-dealing is second nature to them all.
We hear uses of the word “d–n” in the dialogue. And there are discussions about special bloody rituals involving the entrails of animals. (Including a threat to spill human guts.) We hear about mystic drugs acquired from the black market. In addition, a general atmosphere of dark spirituality swirls around the game. We see witch-like characters and a raised-to-life ancient god.
There’s much more to the stylish Lamplighters League than you might expect. But that includes some less than savory bits, too.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.