Every week for 12 weeks, we will be highlighting and reviewing one standout indie game that was released in 2020 that you’re likely to have missed. So please, come with us on this trip through wonderful worlds, heartfelt tales and mysteries simply begging to be solved.
2020 Indie Spotlight – Lithium City
Picture a video game. The most massive open world you’ve ever seen, stretching further than the eye can see. Filled to the brim with systemic content, never-ending quests, unending potential. A world in which you could lose hundreds or even thousands of hours in and never see all it has to offer.
Lithium City is very much not this. It is level-based. It boasts a bespoke, carefully curated design. It’s only a couple of hours long. And it’s awesome.
Every level of Lithium city is short, sharp, and concise. Played out in small isometric levels in real-time, your goal is simply to defeat the enemies in front of you and make it to the elevator. You do this through a small handful of verbs – dash, pick up, throw, attack. That’s it.
Enemies vary in their health and capacity to destroy you. You, however, are the deadliest of glass cannons. It doesn’t take much for you to go down, but success in every set piece is always found in a matter of seconds. And boy is taking down a room full of enemies with whatever tools you have at your disposal a simple, pure joy.
Take one early room for example. Three slow, bumbling melee robots block your path – easy enough to deal with, landing a few punches before dashing away for each. Ah, but there’s a gunman on the other side of a laser barrier – how are you going to stop him from filling you with bullets before you proceed?
Lithium City is a game with absolutely zero filler. Every set of levels follows an overarching theme, and every space within those level sets offers a different layout and path to victory, with a new wrinkle added in each time.
Early on, you might simply be beating up your enemies until they’re knocked out cold. This quickly moves on to a surprisingly large assortment of weapons, all picked up, used, then disposed of in quick succession. Without getting too far into mechanical spoilers, later levels build even further on everything you learned thus far, while still introducing new challenges and sweet new toys to play with right up until the very end.
If you’ve heard of Lithium City at all, you may have heard it compared to the likes of Titanfall 2. This comparison is perfectly apt, in that the game presents you with a neat idea, lets you have fun with it, then throws it away before it gets stale. Next level, next idea, move on.
Another point of reference here is SUPERHOT. Your focus is very action-heavy, with the aim of pulling off a chain reaction of moves to overtake what at first appears to be an overwhelming and sometimes impossible situation. Much like the seminal time-bending FPS, each level may take several attempts, but there’s always a way through. Use your wits and whatever you have on hand, you can overcome those odds. When you do, it just feels so cool.
Pictures speak a thousand words, and with Lithium City this is as true as ever. Nothing quite looks the way this does, with futuristic neon highlights shining through translucent walls and bright blue trails of light left in the wake of your dash.
There isn’t anything in the way of a narrative in the immediate foreground, but inferences of a tragic cyberpunk existence are hinted at through action rather than words. Scenes of corporate warfare, AI constructs and life in a never-ending futuristic hellscape abound.
Cyberpunk games have been all the rage lately, attempting to immerse you in their detailed worlds and futuristic cities. Lithium City is the antidote to the massively mundane – an experience that cuts everything to the bone, producing a game in its purest form with a number one focus on having you feel like a badass. What’s not to love?
Lithium City was reviewed on PC with code purchased by the reviewer.