- The Lamplighters League is a refreshing tactics game that incorporates real-time stealth and turn-based tactics, offering an intriguing strategic experience.
- The game features simple systems that build up complex strategy, with a diverse roster of agents, card-based upgrades, gear, consumables, and a variety of enemy types.
- The game offers accessible difficulty modes and customization options, and although some battles can become drawn-out, The Lamplighters League is a polished tactical adventure with swashbuckling swagger.
At first glance, The Lamplighters League can look like an XCOM game transplanted to a pulp history setting, but this tactics title is more than just a fresh coat of paint. Developed by Harebrained Schemes and published by Paradox Interactive, the game tasks an eclectic group of agents with challenging infiltration missions in the name of saving the world. With a strong array of clever ideas that feed into each other well, The Lamplighters League wears its influences on its sleeve while managing to stand out on its own as an intriguing strategic experience.
The opening missions of The Lamplighters League lay out the basic premise and gameplay carefully, introducing its three starter agents to the mysterious benefactor Pelham Locke and tossing out a smattering of enemies for them to dodge or fight. Real-time stealth complements the turn-based tactics, transitioning when cover is blown or at the press of a button to gain the initiative. Strategy is unsurprisingly simple at the start, but mechanics are fleshed out steadily in a way that makes the latter levels of the game truly shine.
Simple Systems Build Up Complex Strategy
The Lamplighters League flirts with plenty of discrete gameplay elements, carefully balancing them so that no one aspect of strategy becomes overwhelming. The core of the game lies in the characters, with a possible roster of ten agents that can be recruited through various missions. Divided into three overall categories — Bruiser, Sneak, and Saboteur — each agent has their own abilities and skill tree to foster development. Skills are simple, and choosing upgrades is never particularly paralyzing, but the way agents work with each other can make combat exhilarating. The starting trio exemplifies this wonderfully once some upgrades are made, allowing for careful chains that can devastate hordes of enemies.
There's also a card-based upgrade system in play, which is thankfully simple, as well as stress counters that can add cards with negative effects. Also present are gear, consumables, environmental hazards, and a delightful variety of enemy types. Played well, missions become a symphony of connecting the dots between all facets of gameplay in a way that can be enormously satisfying. When things go south, juggling becomes much more frantic. The inclusion of some random elements and the inability to know how well a given team's strength may work with any particular level makes ping-ponging between these scenarios likely.
The Lamplighters League offers three set difficulty modes and the ability to custom-make a difficulty setting with individual choices, enhancing both the accessibility and replayability of the title. On Adventurer, the medium default setting, the game offers a healthy dose of challenge for newcomers that can be ratcheted up by racing through only the most important missions. Larger fights in difficult encounters can be a bit of a double-edged sword, as watching enemy turns eventually starts to drag. The last level may be the worst in this regard, with enemy in-fighting and a dependency on some cheaper methods of challenge making it excessively long and a little too random.
Charming Pulpy Presentation
The plot of Lamplighters League is ultimately simple, focusing on a race to a tower that holds unimaginable power, but most of the story's value comes from the way it's fleshed out around the edges. Missions are full of tidbits of lore to pick up, which are individually less than fascinating but work together to sprinkle more narrative detail into a genre that often relegates story to the framework. Even so, the main highlights are the character interactions between levels. The agents stick to the outlines of simply drawn personalities, but solid dialogue and voice acting make them memorable enough.
On the graphical end, conversations falter a bit more, as they unilaterally occur in the same default hub scene and lack unique animations or emoting character portraits. Any letdowns in The Lamplighters League's overall visual presentation, however, are comparably minor, like the camera's tendency to show combat close-ups from obscured angles. Good lighting and carefully curated UI elements elevate the graphics to punch above their weight class, and the designs for both agents and enemies tend to make strong use of silhouettes to maintain clarity throughout.
Final Thoughts & Review Score
The Lamplighters League has enough meat on its bones to make it a comfortable crowd-pleaser for tactics fans, and the careful integration of its many systems couples with a smooth learning curve to make it accessible to genre newcomers. The game taps into some of the best elements of customization and management while neatly avoiding crunchiness, and the only thing that's likely to become overwhelming is the occasional drawn-out battle. Simple to pick up and satisfying to master, The Lamplighters League is a polished tactical adventure that carves out a niche with swashbuckling swagger.
The Lamplighters League releases October 3, 2023 for PC, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One. Screen Rant was provided with a PC digital download code for the purpose of this review.