Lethis: Path of Progress is a city-builder set in Victorian steampunk era. It is your job, as master of the universe (I mean, they don’t call you that, but you know.), to develop a prospering city and keep your citizens happy.
Lethis is along the same lines as Banished or Sim City. Only better. At the time of my writing this, I’ve spent 124 hours playing this game. More than any other Steam game I own. But I promise I don’t have a problem. It’s just that good of a game. Okay, I might have a problem. But it’s addictive so blame the game, not the player.
There are three modes of play: 5 tutorial missions, 26 campaign missions, and 5 different sandbox maps. Regardless of the mode, first you need to build some houses. Every house gives you so many workers and you need these workers to make and deliver food and perform other services. Houses start out as tents and eventually upgrade to big houses. The higher they upgrade, the more workers living in each house. Each house needs access to certain service buildings: A mechanic, a well, food storage, and a bathhouse. I assume the kind of bathhouse that does your laundry not the other kind. But it is the Victorian area so maybe the other kind. Who’s to say?
Every service building has a walker who will walk down the street and service all the houses in its path. They’ll only walk so far and when they reach an intersection, they’ll decide which way to go and sometimes they’ll go rogue. And if they never make it past certain houses, those houses will downgrade until they eventually collapse. If you let buildings downgrade or collapse, workers leave town. They won’t die if they run out of food or water, they will literally just run off the map like they owe child support. So it’s very important to have your roads laid out and blocked off at key areas to keep your walkers from going where they shouldn’t. So, this is just as much a road management game as it is a city builder. You need to put up road blocks to stop the walkers from walking off. For me, what works best is to build the houses in blocks. I make a rectangular block of about twenty houses, throw in a mechanic, a well, a bathhouse and a food storage, put a road block up so they only walk the in circles around the block, and that little neighborhood pretty much runs itself.
Then, of course, you need to gather food. You can fish, grow crops, feed the crops to cows, etc. You’ll eventually need to mine for copper and gold, and create a whole pile of assorted goods. You can also import and export your goods.
The game is a little tricky to get a handle on at first. Especially because of the walker. Even the tutorials can be hard, but I found that running through the sandbox for a few hours until I got the hang of it really helped. I had to do that before I could even complete the tutorials, which are basically just mini campaigns. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really quite easy. It’s kind of like a puzzle. Every campaign comes with a different map and locks certain services. So, you have to figure out the best way to place buildings and the best way get the type of goods and amount of food you need, and how to balance things like the amount of windmills versus the amount of bakeries you need to keep up with a demand for bread.
I have a few complaints about the game, but nothing that changes my opinion. The sandbox mode leaves a lot to be desired. There are 5 pre-made maps. It would be nice if they were random or customizable. Also, please note that this game will NOT run on integrated graphics cards. So, if you don’t have a separate graphics card, don’t waste your money. You won’t be able to play, which kind of sucks.
Otherwise, good game, good time sink. So far, I’ve finished all 6 tutorials and 23 out of 26 campaigns. I can see things eventually getting tedious and repetitive, but even if it does, 124 hours of game play isn’t bad for $20.