Lethis: Path of Progress is a city builder with a Steampunk aesthetic that – at least as far as the tutorial levels go – has zero military focus. Instead, it’s all about building and production, trade and taxes, and it’s just lovely. There are three different difficulty levels, and a 26 mission campaign, as well as a five mission tutorial (which took me about 90 minutes to complete) and a sandbox mode.
Mechanically, it’s pretty similar to the Impressions Games city builders circa 1998-2002. You put down housing plots, people move in and demand water and food before the houses will improve. You can grow your workforce by adding housing plots or providing the services & resources requested to improve current plots.
It is clear that most of the love this game was given was in the art – the level of detail is excellent, and it’s just damn pretty to look at. I kept trying to zoom in closer and closer to see what my little people were doing.
The biggest deviation from other games of this type has to be in the resource trees. Some things are still pretty logical – fisheries and pumpkin farms provide food. Some are less so – for example, in order to make clothing, you need a tailor. A tailor needs to be supplied by a silk worm farm. Silk worms apparently eat barley. I’m glad they covered that in the tutorial levels, as I might have struggled with trying to figure it out later on.
In this digital age, Lethis feels like a very small step backwards. Impressions’ city builders shipped with manuals that came in well over 100 pages, so trying to teach us all the building interactions in five short missions leaves a lot less room for complexity. I don’t think that this is a bad thing, necessarily, but it does make the game feel a little lighter.
My one disappointment is that it doesn’t feel like they made the economic systems as robust as they could have been to compensate for the lack of military management. Trade is pretty simple, and basically a set it and forget it mechanic. You can adjust the workers’ wages, but it’s across the board – no raising the wages for working in the mines to persuade more people to work there, but you can “take away” jobs elsewhere by limiting the number of employees in less crucial buildings until your get the population bump you need.
Overall, I was quite pleased with Lethis: Path of Progress, and overjoyed to see one of my favorite style of games revisited.