Windows Central Verdict
The Lamplighters League is a solid turn-based strategy game that gives players a good amount of gameplay to sift through. Although the gameplay can get a little repetitive, its ability to continuously offer up new gameplay features or agents is impressive.
Impressive combat system
A good number of agents to offer
Slowly eases the player into the gameplay mechanics
Complete freedom to use your agents how you like
Good looking art style
Camera angles can be awkward at times
Level design is excellent, but there are very few maps
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Picture this: you’re living in an alternate 1930s, a tyrannous cult is on the verge of taking over the world, and the streets are a dangerous place to be. Who are you going to call? No, not the Ghostbusters. Nope, not the Avengers, either. The Lamplighters League are the people you will rely on - if you only knew they were on your side. The Lamplighters League is an unlikely group, a team of misfits and scoundrels with several unique abilities needed to take down the vicious cult known as the Banished Court.
Come on, Lamplighters League, you’re our only hope.
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code. The company did not see the contents of this review before publishing.
The Lamplighters League: Story and gameplay
The plot of the game is relatively easy to follow, with The Lamplighters League in a race to beat the Banished Court cult to a tower with unimaginable power. Although this sounds like a cool premise, it offers nothing other than that. The game does contain many lore collectibles littered throughout its levels that help to build up the story a little more, but I didn’t feel that this wasn’t enough alone.
Developer: Harebrained Schemes
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Genre: Role-playing, turn-based tactics, action-adventure
Install Size: 30 GB
Playtime: 20-30 hours
Release date: Oct. 3, 2023
Xbox Game Pass: Yes
Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows PC, Steam
The Lamplighters League begins with you selecting your difficulty from three options: The Explorer, the best option for players who are new to turn-based tactics games or who want a more relaxed experience; the Adventurer, a sort-of medium difficulty mode with steady enemy progression and offers a moderate challenge, and finally, The Survivor, the veteran difficulty that offers challenging tactical missions and swift enemy progression on the World Map.
After choosing your preferred difficulty level, you can customize the game settings to your liking. You can choose to skip all tutorials, select what happens to your agents that die during tactical combat, and even alter the difficulty levels throughout various aspects of the game. Want faster enemy progression on the World Map but super brutal combat? Sure, you can do that!
Now, you’re ready to jump into the game!
After a short, very dramatic, very visually pleasing cutscene, you are introduced to your first two agents: Lateef, a thief-like character whose primary focus is on sneaky, ranged attacks, and Ingrid, the bruiser who prefers to get up close and personal with her enemies — an unlikely pair. But don’t worry; there are a surprising number of agents you can recruit and use to your advantage.
Soon, you will be slowly introduced to the game's core mechanics, from scouting enemies in real-time mode to the to-dos of turn-based combat. One of my favorite aspects of The Lamplighters League is that it doesn't immediately force you into turn-based combat; your agents can roam the area as they wish in real-time mode unless an enemy spots you. The key here is to remain hidden to find the perfect place to set up camp, so to speak.
While in real-time mode, your agents have a unique special ability that is only useable while in this mode. Lateef’s ability as a Sneak allows him to take out an enemy with a simple sneak attack, whereas Ingrid’s, as a Saboteur, is used to bash multiple enemies out of the way. Correctly utilizing these abilities is vital to a successful mission.
As for the turn-based combat, it’s pretty simple. Each of your agents will have their turn to use a selection of actions, and your enemies will do the same. Each will have two action points (or AP for short) unless they have a stat or item that grants them more. These action points determine how you choose to use a particular character.
Usually, in turn-based combat games, your turn will be pretty regimented: movement followed by an action, attacking, healing, or using a special ability to end your turn. But that isn’t the case in The Lamplighters League. You have the freedom to play out your turn precisely as you would like to. Effortlessly switch between your characters at will, deciding who is best to act first, and use a combination of movement, using items, or attacking to best your enemies. What I loved was that if you find your characters don’t need to move, you can shoot twice from where you stand!
Be careful, though, if an agent goes to 0HP and you don’t revive them in a set number of turns, they’re lost forever...sort of. But that’s a secret we won’t speak about. This also depends on the difficulty setting you chose at the start of the game.
The Lamplighters League also includes a card-based upgrade system that gives agents certain buffs and effects and a stress system that will add negative card effects if a player reaches their maximum stress levels.
The Hideout is your team's remote island safehouse, and this is the place to be if you want to upgrade your character skills, purchase items, and take stock of all your resources. This area will only expand the more that you play the game.
The Hideout will give you access to the World Map, which allows you to select your missions (having to choose week by week what tasks you would like to do in favor of a particular resource) to play, as well as assignments you can assign your agents on to deal with in the background, granting you various rewards such as resources, or even new agents. This is also the area where you can see how close each faction of the Banished Court is to completing their goal — if one of them completes it, it’s game over, so managing these is key to winning the game.
Your safehouse will also allow you to upgrade your agents in various ways. Use skill points acquired from completing missions to gain or upgrade your abilities and kit them with multiple items and armor. One thing I enjoyed about the game is that your characters don’t earn skill points the more you use them. You can use your skill points on whichever character you would like, allowing you to focus on your preferred agents.
The Supplier is where you can purchase various items for your character, such as med-kits and bombs to use in combat, and supplies are easily found scattered around the map on your outings. The Allies section allows players to upgrade specific rescued ‘allies’ to allow their characters new abilities or items. For example, I saved the healer, Mother Amina, and this allowed me to perform various health upgrades that were extremely useful in battle. Although, finding the resources required for these can be pretty challenging.
The Lamplighters League: Visuals and performance
If there is one thing that separates The Lamplighters League from others of its genre, it's the game's charming aesthetic. The 1930s setting is fantastic, and the game captures this era beautifully. The character designs are wonderfully done, with each character utterly unique in both design and personality. Not to mention, the game's level design is some of the best I've seen in its field, although it has to be said that there are few maps to be seen. The whole thing is really a compliment to Harebrained Schemes incredible work.
I can’t say that I experienced many issues with the game's performance while playing on Xbox Series X; there were very few occasions where my frame rate dipped a little, but not enough to falter the experience or make it unplayable.
One issue I did consistently have isn’t to do with the performance of the game per se, but when in turn-based combat, more often than not, the camera would be at an awkward angle, so I couldn’t see what was happening during enemy attacks due to background objects being in the way.
The Lamplighters League: Accessibility and approachability
Turn-based tactical combat games can be pretty intimidating for newcomers to the genre, but I’m pleased to say that The Lamplighters League is simple enough in its approach to accommodate players new to that. With a pretty straightforward gameplay style and an influx of ways to play that suit you, this is a game that anybody can get on board with.
Instead of immediately overwhelming players with a lot of mechanics, this one takes a more laid-back approach and allows players to unlock various features as they go, meaning that you will constantly be learning new things while also being able to keep up while the difficulty increases with time.
The Lamplighters League offers many different settings to make the game more accessible, such as changing the text language, size, what kind of subtitles you would like, and even the ability to remap the buttons to your preference.
The Lamplighters League: Should you play it?
After spending numerous hours taking out enemies, unlocking more agents, and kitting them out to be the best they can be, I’m pleased to say that The Lamplighters League is a must-play for anyone familiar with the genre or wanting a place to start.
The game has so many aspects that you don’t see in many turn-based combat games, with the chance to play your turn in any order you like and without fear that attacking an enemy will end your turn was a literal game changer for me because it allowed me to get the most out of each character on my team.
Not to mention the stunning art style that goes along with it and the varied aspects of gameplay; The Lamplighters League gives you more bang for your buck, and the fact that you can play it day one with Xbox Games Pass is more than a win, in my eyes.
Sneak, steal, and shoot your way through an alternate 1930s, controlling a group of misfit agents to save the world from the infamous cult known as the Banished Court. The Lamplighters League arrives on Xbox Game Pass on October 3, 2023 or is available to purchase below
Buy from: Xbox | Steam | Green Man Gaming
Chelly is a part-time writer. She loves all things gaming, building LEGO and spending an inappropriate amount of money on silly things she can’t afford. Some of her favourite games are Monster Hunter, Borderlands and Pokemon. When she’s not writing, she’s probably adding another game to her ever-growing backlog.