Video Games You May Have Missed: The Old City – Leviathan

Righty-o, who likes video games with plenty of action, guns the size of planets, explosions that affect your ancestry and multiplayer chaos the likes of which no 12-year-old matriarch-botherer has ever witnessed? Yeah. Okay cool. Exit is just down the hall there. Don’t worry about closing the door; there isn’t one.


Anyway, sorry about that. I just feel it’s important to make a point at this early stage that if you’re after a game that has all the above qualities, then The Old City: Leviathan is probably not for you. And I mean that in a pleasant way. This game is the opposite to any action shooter the way that being alive is the inverse of being…well…not-alive.


It’s Not For Everyone, Is What I’m Getting At


So why am I recommending it then? Because it takes a leaf from thechineseroom’s Dear Esther in that it’s a game that offers imagination, beautiful scenery and an intriguing yet puzzling narrative. I’m not even sure what to class The Old City as in terms of genre. Interactive narrative fiction? First-person novella? Who knows, but either way it’s quite a unique experience.


The essence of the game is exploration. You won’t find monsters, puzzle quests or hookers to run over with a stolen car. But what The Old City lacks in chauvinistic homicide, it more than makes up for in story, particularly the narration and disjointed plot points, depending on where you go in the game.


The game opens in an underground part of the city, because why not. As you move along the now-empty decrepit ruins of the once vibrant metropolis, the narrator speaks; musing, perhaps, over a time immemorial. What the story is actually about is open to interpretation. As you meander through the hallways, rooms and outdoor regions, you bask upon the structures, decal, mise en scène and Goliath statues that appear in various regions and all the time you wonder; just…wonder.


Let’s not let petty words undermine the impact this type of game can offer. Let’s allow the visuals to speak volumes. I mean, just look at these screenshots:

old-city-3 old-city-1 old-city-2

You see, The Old City: Leviathan isn’t so much a game as it is a piece of art to be pondered over (stroke-y beards recommended) and critiqued. That might sound pretentious, but I think its a testament to what video games can be. I don’t think it’s much to ask to have the odd game that makes us think the way a piece of classical literature makes us think.


So what do you want? A fantastic yet hauntingly beautiful tale of despair and existential enigma that conjures up long spent memories of a distant and perhaps sought after past that resonates coherently in the narrator’s (and player’s) mind? Or do you want something that goes boom, boom rat-a-tat for a bit.


That’s what I thought.


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