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Unconsidered schedules showed The Lamplighters League and the Tower at the End of the World in a preview at the Game Developers Conference.
In addition to having one of the longest names in gaming history, the title is unique in its mix of turn-based combat and its 1930s pulp adventure set in an alternate universe.
Seattle-based Harebrained Schemes studio head Mitch Gitelman and game director Christopher Rogers showed me the game last week in a hands-off preview. Gitelman is an industry veteran, and Harebrained Schemes has worked on titles like the Shadowrun trilogy, Battletech, and Crimson Skies. The latter was also set in the 1930s and Gitelman said he loved the time frame.
I asked if it was inspired by Indiana Jones, but Gitelman said he was going back to the original source material in the pulp adventure comics of the time. The idea was to create a rich story alongside deep tactical gameplay.
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“People say it’s like Indiana Jones or The Mummy,” Gitelman said. “But we went back to the pulp fiction, the primary source material.”
In the game, you lead a group of heroic scholars in the Lamplighters League whose goal is to stop a tyrannical from fleeing a sinister global cult, the Banish Court. The cult’s goal is world domination.
The title features a mix of gameplay styles, including real-time infiltration, turn-based tactical combat, and managing a growing team of misfits.
The gameplay is very similar to XCOM 2 from Firaxis Games, but the setting is completely different. There is a strategic map where you can select the missions to push back the cult all over the world. You can see the three enemy factions and you can launch missions to slow them down. There is an industrialist, a cult leader and a dictator in the making.
“The game starts in real time when you infiltrate the base. As long as the enemies don’t know us, we can move to real-time,” Rogers said. “There are many things to check. There are things to pick up. We give a glimpse of what the enemy is up to and how it works as a secret Cold War. Some of our characters are aware of the true nature of the world, others are not.”
You can also do missions to sniff out where the enemy treasures are or get more resources.
You control a team of unique, dynamic characters and learn their distinctive tactical skills and roles on the team. You’ll learn their stories and the world they live in by taking them on missions – each misfit brings their own style to battle through unique moves that can turn the tide of battle.
The game with isometric view has multiple stages. You can sneak around and explore the map in a real-time infiltration phase. At that stage, you can use stealth to quietly take out stragglers. You can position your squad and then go hard. Or you can take out the most difficult character in the beginning. Each misfit has different tricks and skills and equipment to use.
Once you make contact with enemies, combat begins and shifts to turn-based combat. You can move or attack and try to outsmart or outflank the enemies. The characters reveal themselves to you during combat, and they joke with each other or otherwise reveal things.
One of the characters was Ana Sofia, a healer armed with a submachine gun. It is important to position her so that she can heal everyone on a team at once. The characters can do things like get furious, headbutt an enemy, or perform a one-shot kill.
The game has a lot of procedural generation when it comes to placing enemies or patrol routes, making the missions replayable. You can hide in tall grass. You can set traps, such as throwing an incendiary bomb into a puddle of oil. You can distract enemies, but if you get hot, they will come at you.
When you’re getting hot, it’s important to find the right combination of characters to pull off attacks that take out as many enemies as possible. Very often you don’t get a one-shot kill, so you have to be careful that enemies don’t fire back. Explosions can damage multiple enemies at once. You can cause enemies to panic and “break stress,” Rogers said.
But the enemies can get reinforcements on a timer and you have to watch out for counterattacks.
“It’s super fun to fight your way out of a situation,” said Gitelman.
If your own agent goes through a stress break, the agent loses action points for a turn or so.
There’s a lot to learn in the game, but Gitelman said there will be an extensive tutorial.
On the strategic map you can do missions where you can expand your forces. Over time, you can recruit new allies from the “best of the worst.” Gitelman did not give an exact launch date.
Players can wishlist The Lamplighters League today on: Steam, Xbox, Microsoft Store, and Epic. The Lamplighters League will launch in 2023.
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