Review by Leigh Carr
I love Dark Ambient music, so when I heard artist Atrium Canceri had created the original soundtrack for The Old City: Leviathan I snatched up a copy. If any of the following Steam game decription tags deter you then this game isn’t for you: Adventure, Walking-Simulator, Atmospheric, Indie, Exploration, First-Person, Rich Story, Surreal, Horror.
You walk, you can look around, there is also a button to open doors and a button for jumping. I didn’t even think a jump function was a necessity until I found its true purpose approximately one-third of the way through the game. (No spoilers!)
As you meander a voiceover dictates the inner thoughts of, presumably, the character you control. There are many notes that can be read as well as paintings and locations that can be observed that will give players an idea of the narrative.
There are forks in the game that allow a player to uncover more of the plot and find notes left around the environment. Once you have uncovered the additional plot elements it’s back to the highway. I found myself running back and forth from one path to the other in fear that I’d progress to the next chapter without uncovering the additional story content. This proved irritating as I was uncertain if I was heading toward my intended objective. Word of advice; stay away from those exit signs until you know you’ve explored everything.
This is what the game is all about. To begin with, players will be clueless. Progression rewards players with information. Piece by piece the plot is built. Towards the end the psychological and surreal narrative will come together. Players will either get it or they won’t. There is heavy use of symbology and ideology. There will be no shame in Googling “What the hell did I just play?” It takes a lot to become accustomed to this type of story telling. Many will not have the patience for this type of narrative whereas others will make the attempt with an open mind and let the game take them on the journey.
It looks pretty. The environment has enough variation to keep those players interested in the plot and march through the more mundane sets of underground corridors and warehouse environments. The outside environments and dreamscapes are stunning.
I’m biased. I love Atrium Canceri and the Cryo Chamber record label. So take what I am about to say with a grain of salt: It is the best audio in the history of the universe. It will be forever known and praised beyond time, space and the cosmos.
Well … it may not be THAT good, but the Ambient soundtrack really gives the environment an unsettling vibe. The soundtrack adds to the post-apocalyptic scenes and unnerves players as they uncover the meaning behind their surroundings.
If you like to fire guns into the air while riding a T-Rex, squashing an army of blood thirsty minions under dinosaur feet; you are awesome, but perhaps stay away from this title.
Born of a jackal, Leigh decided to devote his life to all things horror at a young age. Now that he’s an adult not much has changed. He enjoys Board Games, Tabletop Role Playing Games and Electronic games, has a loving family that have put up with his crippling addictions, and is an ordained priest of the First United Church of Cthulhu. In his spare time he is a facilitator for a bank.
Leigh is also the creator and moderator of the Call of Cthulhu Melbourne Facebook community, where he goes by the madness-inducing pseudonym of “Leigh Carrthulu”. If you love Old Squidface as much as we think you do, ask Leigh to join the Facebook community. (Before you ask – you don’t have to be from Melbourne to join. Great Cthulhu has enough love to go around for us all.) You can also read the interview with Leigh here on Games vs Play.
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