The Old City: Leviathan is beautiful, with varied and detailed environments for the player to explore. It is thought-provoking, built on philosophical themes like truth, certainty, reality, and faith. It’s not all that long; It only took me a few hours to complete. And if one is particular about the definition of “game”, then it is an edge case. As in Dear Esther, the player’s primary means of interacting with the world is walking through it and looking around.
The main character is a bit mad, talking to himself as the player explores. There are indications that his perceptions of reality are a bit warped, too; the environment changes in response to player actions sometimes. Writing appears on a wall where before there was none, or changes as the player approaches. Maybe going through a door and coming back out will make a wall disappear, or add new and sometimes disturbing objects to the environment. But the character talking to himself and the pages of notes and communications scattered all over the place tell the story of island, the Old City in the center of it, and the people who live outside.
As environments to walk through go, the ones found in The Old City: Leviathan are top notch. The player starts in a room with one exit, and after less than thirty seconds out of that room finds beauty. Dust motes floated in the corridor, lit by golden sunlight streaming in through holes broken in the wall. That jusxtaposition of beauty and brokenness sets an appropriate tone for the game. Great audio cues add a lot to the experience, too.
If you’ve tried and enjoyed Dear Esther or Proteus or the like, then you are likely to enjoy The Old City: Leviathan. If the idea of a “walking simulator” turns you off, this is not a game for you to get. It’s releasing on Steam later today and will be available for Windows only. The regular price is to be $15, with a 25% launch discount during the first week.