The Lamplighters League, developed by Harebrained Schemes, ventures into the realm of innovation by blending two existing gaming concepts into a single cohesive experience. Unlike Harebrained Schemes’ previous titles, known for their intricate narratives and complex tactical gameplay, The Lamplighters League presents itself with a refreshing simplicity. Sporting a vibrant, cartoonish aesthetic, the game embarks players on an adventurous journey reminiscent of Indiana Jones, where the objective is clear-cut: save the world from a group of plainly defined occult villains. The game’s tactical elements, while challenging, are more accessible, especially to newcomers in the tactical RPG genre.
What sets The Lamplighters League apart is its amalgamation of real-time stealth and turn-based tactics. Each mission begins with an infiltration phase, allowing players to freely navigate the map without the constraints of a strict turn order. The game features 10 agents, each with distinct abilities falling into three roles: Saboteurs adept at dealing with traps and locks, Bruisers capable of breaking barriers and overpowering enemies, and Sneaks, skilled in climbing walls, concealing themselves, and executing silent strikes. The stealth mechanics, although not as intricate as in dedicated stealth games, serve as a prelude to the tactical combat, enabling players to set up their team strategically before engaging in battle.
Transitioning seamlessly between real-time and turn-based modes, players can shift gears instantly, either by choice or necessity. Stealth sections, rather than focusing solely on eliminating guards, serve as opportunities to position the team effectively, utilizing environmental elements such as traps and cover to gain an advantage. Smart planning allows players to manipulate the battlefield, creating fiery traps or ambushing enemies with precision, all within the first turn of combat.
The game truly shines as players expand their team beyond the initial trio of agents. The choice of agents becomes pivotal, as each excels in different aspects of combat and support. The diversity of options ensures that gameplay never stagnates, encouraging players to explore varied strategies beyond simple attacks. While The Lamplighters League begins slowly, with limited options and a gradual introduction to its mechanics and world, it gradually unfolds into a rich, engaging experience, defying initial expectations.
A surprising layer of depth emerges in the game’s strategic aspect, where players manage their home base, purchase supplies, and select missions. The Doomsday Clock looms overhead, tracking enemies’ plans and intensifying their strength as time progresses. To counter this, players can enhance their agents’ abilities using the Undrawn Hand, a mystical deck of cards offering post-mission bonuses. Adapting gameplay to leverage these bonuses adds an element of unpredictability, enhancing the overall excitement of each mission.
The Lamplighters League may not reign as the best stealth or tactics game individually, but its unique fusion of the two genres creates an unparalleled experience. For strategy enthusiasts seeking a fresh challenge, The Lamplighters League offers a distinct gaming encounter. Moreover, it serves as an excellent entry point for newcomers, providing a gentler introduction to the demanding turn-based tactics genre. In a world where innovation often leads to extraordinary results, The Lamplighters League stands as a testament to the brilliance of combining the familiar into something refreshingly new.