I got bored in City 20 and became a serial killer

The immersive sim will provide a hands-on opportunity soon
Untold Games

Untold Games’ City 20 is an immersive sim in which you’re trying to survive and – eventually – break out from a ruined city serving as a massive open-air prison. NPCs react to what you do authentically and require the same resources as the player, leading to the same kind of competition and friction that would develop in a similar real-life situation. You can build friendly relationships with groups and cooperate – or go in a more hostile direction and take what you need by force, but that’ll quickly leave you isolated. That’s the theory, anyway – the vision for City 20.

Its demo, which will be available at Steam Next Fest in June 2024, isn’t really long enough to get into any of that interesting stuff, which is a bit of a shame. You can only play for 2.5 in-game days before things are wrapped up, which is hardly enough to provide even a small glimpse into its depth and its unique features – it feels more like your typical survival crafting RPG during this window of time, which ultimately may do the game more of a disservice than good.

City 20 screenshot showing a person taking gasoline from a gas station.
Fuel is one of the scarce resources people are competing over. / Untold Games

You can run around on the map, meet some of the factions, do some collecting, crafting, trading, and then your time will be up. Still, how you spend those 2.5 days is your call – you can follow the rules and help people out who ask for your assistance, or you can try to be the biggest douchebag possible and see how far that takes you, because one thing the demo does offer is freedom: You can do what you want.

I got early access to the demo and spent a few runs being a law-abiding citizen, exploring and picking up stuff to help people out, but that was ultimately a little boring. Switching gears, I tried an “evil” run and murdered the kind-hearted soul who takes you under his roof at the start of the game – you chose poorly this time, buddy. I did him in with a wooden mallet, which I imagine is a pretty bad way to go – in fact, I needed to beat the guy unconscious like three times with the thing until he stayed down. 

No problem, since he lives somewhat outside of town. I carried his corpse into a shed to hide it – yeah, that’s a thing – and joyfully looted his body and house. Well, it was my house now, but of course, I had to keep that a secret. I spent the remaining daylight hours collecting some material to craft an improvised knife, which is much better at murder than a wooden mallet.

City 20 screenshot of a fight between two people.
Kind-hearted Goga takes you under his wings. You can repay him with kindness or, well, your fists. / Untold Games

Thus equipped, I became the town’s nightmare – a proper serial killer. That’s actually a lot easier than it sounds because apparently, everyone here is deaf. I broke into a factory that’s controlled by one of the town’s ruling factions and ambushed one person patrolling the hallway, getting all stabby with him. As it turned out, one of the guy’s colleagues was leaning against the wall right around the corner – there is no way in hell he wouldn’t have heard the commotion if he had functioning ears. Alas, in this game it’s all “out of sight, out of mind.” So I shanked him as well, naturally, and put both their bodies into an empty office. I smashed the power supply for good measure, wrapping their corpses in darkness.

That, in turn, got the rest of the workers to come out of their rooms – and into my welcoming, lethal embrace. It’s too bad the demo ended soon afterwards, as I would have loved to observe what happens when those bodies are found and the legend of the nightly terror spreads throughout the city.

Why? Well, I guess I was a little bit bored with my peaceful life. 

The City 20 demo clearly showed me two things: One is that it’s a somewhat misleading representation of the game because it leaves out its most important characteristics – how your actions influence the life of the town’s NPCs in the long term, building relationships with them, and experiencing some actual narrative events (which are supposed to be steered by a Left 4 Dead-esque director in Early Access, according to the devs). Number two is that this is simply not a game for me – but I can see the appeal for people who like this sort of experience. 

You’re free to do as you wish, as long as you can deal with the consequences of your actions. There is basically no hand-holding – this new life is all yours to figure out and explore, for better or worse.


Published
Marco Wutz

MARCO WUTZ

Marco Wutz is a writer from Parkstetten, Germany. He has a degree in Ancient History and a particular love for real-time and turn-based strategy games like StarCraft, Age of Empires, Total War, Age of Wonders, Crusader Kings, and Civilization as well as a soft spot for Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail. He began covering StarCraft 2 as a writer in 2011 for the largest German community around the game and hosted a live tournament on a stage at gamescom 2014 before he went on to work for Bonjwa, one of the country's biggest Twitch channels. He branched out to write in English in 2015 by joining tl.net, the global center of the StarCraft scene run by Team Liquid, which was nominated as the Best Coverage Website of the Year at the Esports Industry Awards in 2017. He worked as a translator on The Crusader Stands Watch, a biography in memory of Dennis "INTERNETHULK" Hawelka, and provided live coverage of many StarCraft 2 events on the social channels of tl.net as well as DreamHack, the world's largest gaming festival. From there, he transitioned into writing about the games industry in general after his graduation, joining GLHF, a content agency specializing in video games coverage for media partners across the globe, in 2021. He has also written for NGL.ONE, kicker, ComputerBild, USA Today's ForTheWin, The Sun, Men's Journal, and Parade. Email: marco.wutz@glhf.gg