Instead of a “gameplay first” indie title, The Old City hopes to focus on visuals and storytelling—done via your character’s self-narration—that will set The Old City apart from other titles.
Much like the vaunted Myst series and some other classic adventure games, there’s no fighting. Crucially, there’s also no inventory and no real need to pick up and carry a spare tire track so you can fix an inflatable balloon to bounce a key off a hidden ledge or some other esoteric puzzle. Instead, The Old City’s conceit is by working very, very hard on those aesthetics and visuals as well as voiceovers.
Gamers should be pretty familiar with the concept of pretty-looking games, but, continue the devs, what if we only made a pretty-looking game with a solid story behind it? That’s The Old City. A game of choices, it’s set in a decaying city from “a civilization long past,” and the player as a sewer-dwelling isolationist. Perhaps that’s why he’s survived whatever happened to the world as he wanders it.
Initially, the game will be semi-guided in semi-open levels, but will later open up significantly. Unlike open-world games, however, going down a path shuts off other paths entirely and tells a tale within the areas you choose. In order to therefore understand the full story, you’ll have to replay the game and choose a different path. I’m envisioning those choose-your-own-adventure books, without the ability to stick a finger on your current page if you don’t like what happens to you.