As someone obsessed with sandbox survival games, I really wanted to like this one. Unfortunately, broken gameplay, poor design decisions, and a buggy client make it really hard for me to recommend Lantern Forge in this stage of development. The game isn't marked as Early Access - it really should be, since very little about its gameplay or aesthetics feel polished enough to be a final released game.
Essentially: Lantern Forge's combat system is crippled by its own controls on top of balance issues, while its survival aspect lacks challenge. The game has limited content to explore, and story-wise, the game provides no plot, no choices, and no sense of urgency to motivate me to keep advancing.
Movement issues: Controlling your character is awkward at best in both movement schemes. Mouse-based movement, which was the only form of movement available when I first wrote this review, was completely broken due to bad click detection (leading the character to start mining if you clicked anywhere near a rock), bad collision detection (getting stuck on thin trees that the character didn't seem to be anywhere near) and a complete absence of pathfinding (walking into a wall when a door is less than a block away).
The devs later implemented a W-for-forward-movement-based-on-mouse-position movement scheme. Although it's *better*, it's only preferable in the same way that getting the flu is preferable to getting pneumonia, because in exchange for fixing the click detection and pathfinding issues, it hamstrings your ability to move effectively in combat. More on this in the next point.
Combat, Part 1: All combat is click-based. You have to hold down the cursor over an enemy to continue attacking, but due to the poor implementation of click detection, it's trial and error to figure out where you should be clicking to actually hit an enemy, and good luck if the enemy is moving. Now recall that all movement is *also* mouse-based. Because you have to click on the enemy to attack, there's no way to strafe around and get into a better position without interrupting your attack. Playing as an archer or mage? Tough. You're going to start running towards the enemy anyway if you misclick, might as well as put on heavy armor.
Combat, Part 2: Combat Mode and useless hotkeys make your combat skills painful to actually use. This game relies on the Diablo II control scheme, where left-click attacks and right-click uses a single registered skill; while you can register a skill to a hotkey, hitting that hotkey doesn't activate the skill - it just switches your right click. This was tolerable 10 years ago; it feels absurd today. Worse, you have to be in Combat Mode to even activate skills; if you're in Build Mode, which you will be for the majority of the game, right-click performs context-dependent actions on the surrounding landscape instead (building, farming, mining).
In effect, to even use your character's skills instead of bashing enemies, you have to 1. make sure you're wielding a weapon and not just swinging your currently equipped tool, 2. make sure you're in combat mode, and 3. make sure your current right-click skill is actually usable by your equipped weapon type (so no bows for sword skills). This needs to happen every time you run into an enemy.
Combat, Part 3: Enemies are both unbalanced and cheap. All melee enemies in the game rush you as soon as they enter the screen, as long as they have a path to you. The prevalence of mob spawners in this game means that's usually 3-4 enemies at once, and the problem with this is that at the same level as you, each enemy does about 5x the damage you do to it per hit, since all your weapons have absurdly low damage-per-hit (if high attack speed). Your character's regeneration rate is high, but not that high, and the lack of usable AoE skills in this game mean that while you bash ineffectually at one mob, three others are chewing on your face.
(Knights, the ostensible melee class, have only 1 AoE skill which costs 50% of starting mana if you don't have any mana-boosting items. It's also based on your weapon's damage-per-hit... you can see the problem with this.)
The end result of this is that when dungeon-delving, you'll usually be stuck grinding against enemies 5 levels below you because anything higher is too hard, and getting appropriately low-level equipment drops. This gets tedious rapidly, and the problem is this is the entirety of the game.
1. All progression is grinding. Past the first two tiers of items (copper and iron), I realized there was absolutely nothing new that would be added by digging deeper and hunting for later tiers. No skills to unlock, no bosses, and no new mechanics, besides a numbers boost and even-more-absurdly-overpowered enemies. The game's complete lack of story or even a framing device just makes this worse, because while you *can* build your town and collect all the vendors, there's no reason to.
2. Survival is a cakewalk. Once you have even a small-sized farm set up, the survival aspect of the game becomes trivial, and you can probably feed yourself entirely off wild respawning apple trees. Furthermore, there's zero consequences for dying that I've noticed besides moving to your spawn point, not even an item drop.
1. Aesthetics and UI are poorly implemented. There's no minimap, with only a (x, y, z) numbers-based position marker indicating where you are, so good luck finding your way back if you get lost deep underground (or you could just die and respawn, but how cheap is that). The crafting window is difficult to navigate for several reasons, and shortcuts for moving items are not indicated in any documentation. There's also no way to remap controls.
2. Bugs. I've crashed to desktop once, and noticed memory leaks in the form of slowdowns after a few hours. Background music seems to be buggy in that the daytime music starts playing at midnight instead of dawn, and every so often, a weapon you're trying to craft will spawn with 0 attack.
I've come back to Lantern Forge twice since I first started, and each time it's disappointed me greatly with how little it's improved on what I'd think are fundamental problems. Although I'd have sincerely enjoyed this game with some fixes, I can't recommend it to anyone at this point in time.