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Parents' Guide to

Lamplight City

By Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Deeply flawed mystery full of adult themes, frustration.

Game Mac , Windows 2018
Lamplight City Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 1 parent review

age 14+

Detective adventure

This old-fashioned adventure game reminds me of Sierra and LucasArts classics. You play as a detective facing five different cases in a Victorian city with a steampunk twist; I particularly liked its characters and story. However, it's not for pre-teens. While the presentation is overall tasteful and non-graphic, and the tone is mostly lighthearted, it's also full of mature content, dealing with topics such as murder, kidnapping, vigilantism, racism, domestic abuse, prostitution, mental problems and substance addiction. Gameplay is easy compared to old point-and-click adventures: most puzzles are simplified to the point that clicking on an object automatically performs the right action needed. However, there are still situations which can be frustrating to younger players: it's possible to miss small items or say the wrong thing in a conversation, locking yourself out of vital clues; although the game will progress even if you fail at a case, too many mistakes will earn a "bad" ending. Recommended age: 14+.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

This adventure starts promisingly, but its design choices and sloppily executed game elements frustrate you the longer you explore your detective's cases. Over the first 10 minutes, Lamplight City seems like you're going to be set up for a twist-filled story full of oddball characters and fun locations to explore. Unfortunately, things go downhill shortly after that. The most glaring issue is the game's vague setting that mixes Victorian England, Southern American culture, fantasy Steampunk, and present-day anachronisms. This makes for a weird blend of French and English names, New Orleans-ish geography, American accents, steam power references, and modern dialogue that implies that the game can't decide when, or where, it is. The parade of poisonings, shootings, kidnappings, and burnings is also a lot to absorb, even for adults.

Another issue is the frustrating lack of useful feedback and the wealth of red herrings. Too often, locations become unavailable or people stop talking to you. Logically, you could still pursue leads in these areas, but the game (for some reason) won't let you. On the flip side, Lamplight City draws your attention to locked chests and drawers that have nothing to do with the case and that you're never meant to open. Plus, the lack of item inventory and clunky casebook conspire to increase the number of dead ends. You'll probably wrap up a case not because it's solved, but because the game won't let you do anything else. And don't expect any kind of case validation; once it's over, you never hear if your solution was right. On the positive side, Lamplight City has some nice location art, decent humor, and a strong anti-racism message. But overall, the game feels like a lesson in design ideas that probably looked good on paper but don't work in reality. So unless your older in-house detectives enjoy flawed semi-Victorian mysteries full of confusion and illogical conclusions, they should give this one a pass.

Game Details

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