The Old City: Leviathan is an experiment in first person exploration that focuses entirely on story. All that exists is you and the world. Set in a decaying city from a civilization long past, The Old City: Leviathan puts the player in the shoes of a sewer dwelling isolationist.
User reviews:
Overall:
Mostly Positive (456 reviews) - 77% of the 456 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Dec 3, 2014

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About This Game

The Old City: Leviathan is an experiment in first person exploration that focuses entirely on story.

Everything else is secondary. All that exists is you and the world. Set in a decaying city from a civilization long past, The Old City: Leviathan puts the player in the shoes of a sewer dwelling isolationist. You progress through the narrative by simply exploring the world. The story itself is told via the musings of your character and, chiefly, the environment itself. This environment has been designed to be diverse, interesting, and meaningful to the narrative of the game.

The objective is to understand. The story of The Old City: Leviathan is not told in a traditional manner. As you progress through the narrative, you will overhear a conversation between two entities. The first entity is the nameless character you are controlling who communicates through a monologue. The second entity is the depths of the environment, details and all. Your task is to piece together the narrative as if you are jumping into a conversation with no context. The more you explore, the more you will potentially understand.

This experience is not a normal one.

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows Vista / Windows 7 / 8
    • Processor: 3.0 GHz dual core or better
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: DirectX 9 compatible with 512 MB video RAM or better (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 / Radeon HD 5850)
    • DirectX: Version 9.0
    • Storage: 3 GB available space
    • Sound Card: Windows compatible sound card
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows 7 / 8 - 64-bit
    • Processor: 2.4 GHz quad core or better
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: DirectX 9 compatible with 1 GB video RAM or better (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 / Radeon HD 7950)
    • DirectX: Version 9.0
    • Storage: 3 GB available space
    • Sound Card: Windows compatible sound card
Customer reviews
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Overall:
Mostly Positive (456 reviews)
Recently Posted
MasterTom[NL]
1.8 hrs
Posted: August 20
It's a beautifully atmospheric first person adventure. The scenery, vistas... just the visuals in general are very nice. The sounds and the story... make it an excellent game.
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Sativlan
1.8 hrs
Posted: August 20
Interesting story, beautiful landscapes.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
M 008
3.8 hrs
Posted: August 17
Amazing atmospheric adventure experience. Excellent grafic design and charming surroundings.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Tom
1.9 hrs
Posted: August 13
WOW! Extremely enjoyable.
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BuckTheStar
3.2 hrs
Posted: July 30
Very atmospheric, and the fact that your character can't always see what he should is a nice touch.
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FriendFive
4.6 hrs
Posted: July 29
Beautiful looking game, but hard to recommend unreservedly to everyone. If you like walking simulators like Dear Esther, then you will feel right at home with this one. The environments are creepy and/or beautiful and there is good voice narration plus eerie music. I can't say that I really understood the whole story because there was plenty of philosophy and insanity going on, but it was a very trippy experience with occasional chills. Hope that helps.
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thiscatisalandmine
2.2 hrs
Posted: July 21
I'm not sure if I 'enjoyed' this game, but it left my head spinning with a bunch of thoughts and emotions. A number of the visual set pieces were utterly breath taking and the over arching story, although odd and difficult to actually piece together properly was pretty interesting. It's certainly quite different to other walking simulator type games I've experienced previously.
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gampnick352
3.8 hrs
Posted: July 17
The Dead Pretty: Lethargian

TL;DR Read Sophie's World instead.

First, the praise: The game environment is gorgeous. From the textures to the level design, each frame is a work of art. The subtle environment changes help inspire the tense atmosphere that underpins the entire game. This is a project of passion, and I would really recommend exploring the world thoroughly to make as much sense of the story as possible.

That's where the praise stops.

Sadly, the game has the philosophical subtlety of a sledgehammer. Perhaps Maslow was onto something. If it's not the overbearing symbolism, it's the infernal kettle logic scattered in notes throughout the world. For a game that explores existential issues, this proof by verbosity reeks of pseudophilosophical rambling. The underlying message is neither new nor profound, and it's presented in such a shoddy and pompous manner it feels like you've wandered into a student bar on a Sunday evening.

But maybe that's the point.

Perhaps there was a deeper satirism that flew completely over my head. Perhaps the game really is nothing more than vacuous truth. Perhaps, like the game's bitter Solomon, I'm psychoanalysing my own failure to psychoanalyse. Must be the water.

It's clear that the developer has put a lot of effort into researching and making the game. However, this has produced a game whose core message may be inaccessible to someone with no experience in philosophy. The developer acknowledges this, and I respect that. It takes guts to produce a game that doesn't hold players' hands.

Ultimately, this game explores some very deep existential issues. Unfortunately, it seldom strays past the populist trite you'd find in a teenager's bedroom.

Read Jostein Gaarder instead.
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Desert Ranger
5.3 hrs
Posted: July 14
A truly amazing game with a thick atmosphere, stunning art direction and a deep and rich story that explores the depths of human consciousness and questions reality.If you don't mind reading many pages of a truly magnificent story amongst your exploring this is the game for you.
It is about 4-5 hours long and it is just enough to achieve its goal.
If the small amount of playtime concerns you put it on your wishlist and buy the second it goes on sale.
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CorvusCorax
1.7 hrs
Posted: July 12
TL;DR: A short walking simulator with an engaging storyline that has a lot of room for interpretation. Taking place in a unique, post-apocalyptic world, Leviathan has a one-of-a-kind narrative that some may find very interesting while others might hate it for being (at times) boring. The game has excellent graphics, great accompanying music and it rewards you for exploring each section in its entirety. Of all the FPE (first person exploration) games out there the Old City is a must.

Leviathan belongs to those games that can be characterised as "first person exploration" games or simply "walking simulators". There are no enemies here, no levels to complete with a boss fight, no real challenges; the emphasis is on story immersion by walking and at the same time interacting with objects of the world is kept to a minimum. This also means that these games are rather short and a walkthrough means we've pretty much seen everything that is to be seen.

I have grown fond of these games in recent years. So much so that I enjoyed exploring all the different endings of "Stanley Parable" and I even completed a rather mediocre game called "The NADI Project". I also know that it's best to steer away from some of these games - let's just say they have reached the level of AAA games meaning the final product cannot always please everybody (yes, I'm looking at you, "Everybody's Gone to the Rapture"!).

Leviathan puts us into a unique world; a world which is first seen as an industrial complex. As we go through the storerooms full of boxes and tables littered with notes (messages meant for us to elaborate the history of the Old City) we may get bored but after a while we notice a change of scenery. Outside locales look refreshing but also equally confusing: What are these floating statues doing in the sky? Why is a dead whale ashore next to several dozens of huge containers? And while going towards the subway entrance we are mesmerised by the game's attention to detail - looking up we can see a highway and suddenly get stunned by the huge crab-like creature leisurely strolling on the road (I guess he did not need to pay the tool fee). We barely see it but we know it is there. And how come more than one level starts in a child's room only for us to see the sewers and the storerooms once more when exiting mentioned room?

This is an interesting ambiguity we are faced here. For once we expect to get an explanation for this world's post-apocalyptic nature but then we start questioning whether or not this is all going on in our mind. The "voice" that regularly (mainly at the beginning of each chapter) speaks pushes us forward so that we can find out more on the 3 factions (the Guild, the Order and the Unknowing) and makes us try to identify the people behind the names that all have biblical origins (Abraham, Jonah, etc.)

Completing Leviathan can happen pretty fast. Walking from point A to point B is easy - sometimes the door to the exit is right in front of us. Still, it's best to explore our periphery to see what the Old City holds for us. We may get some extra lines from our "voice", plus, hidden in various corners and alleyways we may bump into Solomon's notes, documents giving us further reading and helping understand the world that may just be in our imagination.

Beside the interesting story what stands out is Leviathan's graphics. Not as detailed as in the "Vanishing of Ethan Carter" (you really cannot top this one), still, in terms of atmosphere and attention to detail it is top-notch in every which way. Unlike "Gone Home" or "Dear Esther" for the first time I felt the need to replay a couple of chapters to see what more information the city could give me.

If you like the genre this game is a must. And if you have a hard time with the understanding join the discussion thread in the forum - there are some interesting theories as to what the game's message is.
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Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
4.6 hrs on record
Posted: July 29
Beautiful looking game, but hard to recommend unreservedly to everyone. If you like walking simulators like Dear Esther, then you will feel right at home with this one. The environments are creepy and/or beautiful and there is good voice narration plus eerie music. I can't say that I really understood the whole story because there was plenty of philosophy and insanity going on, but it was a very trippy experience with occasional chills. Hope that helps.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: August 20
It's a beautifully atmospheric first person adventure. The scenery, vistas... just the visuals in general are very nice. The sounds and the story... make it an excellent game.
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
133 of 148 people (90%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
2.3 hrs on record
Posted: December 3, 2014
Beautiful game, The first person perspective is very well executed, But needs to be experienced first hand, I recommend checking this game out and giving it a go.
+The visuals and the artwork combined with the narration and the environments are excellent, plus the music is really beautiful and gives you a tone to the atmosphere on the game,
+The story is very interesting, as you listen to the voices throughout the course of the game, it keeps you on your toes and keeps you wanting more.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J12M_5TWRaA
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94 of 97 people (97%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Recommended
16.6 hrs on record
Posted: June 18, 2015
Under the guise of a religious parable The Old City: Leviathan tells a powerful allegorical story about questioning the fundaments of reality, the rejection of certainty in pursuit of knowledge and the role of the individual in the intellectual developement of the species. They are pretty big themes, yes, but TOC:L works on the assumption that videogame players should be allowed to tackle such big themes without having to quit their hobby.

The game got criticized for the supposedly pretentious and overly obscure, rather cryptic, writing and, certainly, Leviathan would have benefited, as a game, from a toning down of its technical vocabulary ("Truth must be compatible with itself.") and a slightly simplified flow of ideas: the part about the boy in the library is interesting, but rather superfluous in the game's narrative, even though it accounts for the feeling of self-taught philosophy, which is, of course, what the game is all about, but it does make it feel cumbersome at times, it lacks the brilliance of a game with a clearer grasp on the philosophical themes it deploys, like The Talos Principle, for instance (then again, philosophy of the mind is much more marketable as part of a videogame setting than ontology or gnosiology).

Despite all this, I think the way the game is written is also a well calculated effect: its central allegory presents the philosopher as a Minotaur, lost in his own interior labyrinths of thought, trying to mediate a fragile peace, a sort of fickle equillibrium between contraries of human nature (represented in the game as three conflicting factions, each with its own goals and reasons; also, this mediation the Minotaurs are doing between factions takes various forms in the game, according to the different schools of thought in the history of philosophy). So, the apparently cumbersome writing is meant to recreate for the player the feeling of being lost in such a labyrith of words, is meant to make the player feel like they are the Minotaur, and they are actually "thinking" their way out, navigating a sea of ideas (the metaphor of "sailing" is also a very powerful one in the game's mythological symbolism), wading slowly through them in search of "enlightenment", and if you play it the way it's supposed to be "played", slowly, meditatively, with open eyes and an open mind, it does make you feel enlightened at the end.

With its deep, philosophical, themes, metaphorical storytelling, complete lack of gameplay, meditative exploration and contemplative level design The Old City: Leviathan could very well mark the birth of a new type of videogames: The First Person Thinker. I'd like to see it develop into a full-fledged genre in the coming years.
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88 of 99 people (89%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
3.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 3, 2014
"Unfortunately, telling a group of people that they're doing something wrong communicates that you're doing it right. If only that were true. If only I was above all this, instead of beneath everything..."

The Old City: Leviathan is a project I've been following for a while now. It captured my attention from the moment I read that it focused entirely on story and exploration without the obsessive combat or jumpscares that plagues the common formula for big-budget-quick-profit games today. My intrigue was instantly sated from the moment I ran the game. I'm obsessed. It's an addicting breath of fresh air that is so desperately needed amongst today's games.

This game instead slows you down, sets you free to explore, and unfolds its story through its beautifully crafted environment. It places its trust in human curiosity, and quickly ensnares you in its abstract, fragmented story told through the eyes and ramblings of a madman. Everything done and narrated in this game is terrifyingly meaningful and deep. The intellectual depth and immersion of this game is just absolutely stunning, and combines for one remarkable experience.

This is the kind of game that makes you want to write down everything you see, every question you have, and every reoccuring object in hopes of piecing everything together. It's just confusing enough to addict you into finding the truth, yet clear enough to keep you on the hunt for more. This is the kind of game that you can easily spend hours on without realizing. It just might leave you laying awake at night mulling over what you've experienced. It combines gritty, realistic, post-modern elements with whimsical pieces of myth and mystery, and amongst it all you'll find insight that truly transcends anything in the gaming universe today.

Unlike a lot of current story-based games, you don't feel like a tourist, you actually feel like an adventurer. You feel like you're the one making the discoveries, not being read to on a forced, one-track story. Leviathan is tangible, it's interactive, it feels real. The music and ambiance is on an entire different level as well. It really immerses you into the game. The environment you explore actually feels like a living, breathing beast, and it will send shivers down your spine.

It's an experience unlike anything I've ever known in gaming. Do yourself a favour and buy it.
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59 of 68 people (87%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
1.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 3, 2014
I don't write reviews. So this is minimal.

This game is just beautiful. I have never taken so many screenshots of an actual game before. You completely get lost while playing it. Immersion is at 150% and has a fantastic soundtrack with that being said though I have not the slightest idea what was going on. Is this good? I don't really know. I do want to play through it again to figure more out... That seems like a positive to me.

Someone had asked and yes it is a walking-simulator but one with complete immersion, a lengthy story, fantastic soundtrack and a damn pretty world.

Skip through to the 2 hour mark for gameplayt - http://www.twitch.tv/itsgime/b/595422168
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48 of 53 people (91%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
3.4 hrs on record
Posted: December 5, 2014
The Old City: Leviathan Review

Premise: A man with an unstable mind finds himself seemingly alone in a collapsed society. The player sees the world through his manic eyes, unfolding a narrative concerning themes of uncertainty, love, and, most importantly, the nature of dreams.

Gameplay: Nonexistent, but this is a mercy. Any puzzles would disrupt the game's pace; the only challenge exists in finding the notes composing a 30,000 word novella (which I'll get to later), and trust me, you'll want to find every last scrap. The game has a heavy emphasis on exploration, and little inhibits this. My only complaint here is that it is sometimes unclear when a door leads out of an area permanently rather than just to a smaller side room, which occasionally caused places to go unexplored, as I couldn't return.

Visuals: The graphics and art style strike a beautiful middle ground between DIshonored and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, making good use of the Unreal Engine. While textures themselves are slightly muddy, their stylized nature makes the environments easy on the eyes, and the art direction throughout the game, especially in the dream sequences, absolutely breathtaking. From the dank, oppressive atmosphere of the sewers to the melancholy desolation of the surface, there's never a dull sight.

Story: This is the real meat of the game. While the actual story behind the game is murky (a non-issue which will surely be cleared up in the already-announced sequels), the writing is simply on another level. I'm used to toning down my standards for small indie games when it comes to the quality of narrative delivery, but the novella bits in particular are--no joke-- life-changing. The writer/s have a remarkable grasp of incomprehensibly deep philosophical thought to the point where it will almost always feel like they're ahead of you. That is perfectly fine, as the point of the game is to define a new philosophy for yourself, determining the nature of your own reality. The novella pieces are absolutely vital to the narrative, and a couple playthroughs will likely be necessary to track down any missed sections. It's good to go into the game knowing that you need to scour every area as thoroughly as possible before moving on, because you don't want to miss some of the best writing ever put into a game.

Sound: This deserves a special little section. The ambient sound is consistently chilling, and I honestly felt scared at points upon hearing the rattle of a can in the wind even though I knew nothing would jump out at me. The music, especially during dreams, is spot-on, adding to the experience without overshadowing it at all. It's also very well-synced to your actions, which is impressive given the number of branching paths in the game world. Finally, there is only one voice-acted character--you, a.k.a. Jonah-- and the talent is very, very good. Far better, in fact, than any indie game has a right to. This guy should be doing voicework for higher-paying games, because honestly, this was one of the most surprising parts of the game. Good narration is hard to do, and this guy nails it. Props.

Length: About a five-hour experience if you really take your time. And please, please /really take your time/.

Final thoughts:

This game is a shockingly in-depth exploration of what it means to be isolated in a world where certainty is fleeting. It's a scathing critique of Dostoevsky's Underground Man (I'm gonna stress this: fans of Dostoevsky are going to love the novellas, because Solomon is essentially Raskolnikov), becoming a quest to find a replacement for certainty. I won't reveal what this replacement is, but suffice to say that the experience is absolutely brilliant and worth every minute you pour into it.

10/10
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46 of 51 people (90%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
2.3 hrs on record
Posted: January 1, 2015
As this is not really a "game" in the conventional sense, but more of a a "walking simulator" or a story that progresses by you walking through it, it's hard to give a conventional review.

It's an amazing "game". If philosophy interests you, or at least you're somehow considering yourself a thinker, you might really enjoy this ride.

The atmosphere nonetheless is great, it has some very beautiful and creative scenes, a lot to read (which you should not avoid or else you have no clue what this is all about), a very interesting "plot" and a fitting nearly epic soundtrack.

It is not really "fun" to play, yet it is a one of a kind experience you will fail to find a second like it.
So even if you don't give a damn about the story or it's underlying message, you will constantly stop and admire the scene.

It's quite short though, i was done with it in roughly two hours. Yet there are two "Solomons notes" left i could not find.
Even regarding the fact i missed some fragments of the plot, i don't feel like running around a second time yet...it's not that the story would change or you could miss a lot.

Still worth it's price?
Well i enjoyed the short, not very funny, ride. MAYBE i will play it again in the future but right now it was a very fast shot. If you enjoy "experimental" "games" with a very specific intention to make you think, this could be still worth your money and time.

I quote the developer here (freely) as "...this is a title that no major publisher would have risked its money on...". And i'd second this. Brave developer, and it obviously payed off!
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37 of 42 people (88%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
4.3 hrs on record
Posted: July 28, 2015
If you don't like walking games, and lots of reading, then don't get this.
If you like stories, and walking, then this..is the game for you.
I don't want to spoil anything for people who haven't played this yet.
But I will say, you have to read, a lot, and to understand what's going on as you take this journey into the story being told as you go into different area's to progress the story.
And also, lots and lots of walking. Gotta use those legs!

There are also choice's, always 2 different choices on where to go, always keep an eye out for different paths to take, it will also help you understand the story slightly more.

BUT~ I loved this game to the very end.
The voice acting is crisp and clean.
The soundtrack is just gorgeous and very lovely to listen to.
The graphics are beautiful and very detailed in my opinion.
The story was well put together and I enjoyed it.

10/10
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93 of 134 people (69%) found this review helpful
11 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
1.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 26, 2015
I am fond of walking simulators. I am not fond of this one.

The awe-inspiring environments which force you into ceaselessly hitting your F12 key for screenshotting purposes are rendered meaningless by the title's ridiculous narrative. Have you found the narrator of "Dear Esther" a tad too indulged in his own fancy wordings once in a while? "Leviathan" puts this to a new level. The narrator is busy annoying the player with his pseudo-philosophic soliloquies, juggling with overly complicated words and misusing them in an unheard of frequency. No first-semester philosophy teacher would accept this as an essay.

Then there are volumes of references to bible stories posted on every second wall in the sewerage, making their complexity appear so trivial that the player will likely ignore them altogether to not interrupt the walking flow.

In conclusion, a visually stunning experience utterly destroyed by an absurd narrative which is stubbornly distracting the player from what the title does best.
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