Level, stylized leveL, is a webcomic by Nate Swineheart.
Cael is an apparently-normal boy living in the massive futuristic metropolis of Level. Plagued by strange dreams, he decides one day to take home a school computer to research the possible causes. His plans are stymied, however, by his violent cousin Reagan, who shows up to take him shopping and then to a game of Gravball, on the suggestion of Cael's mother.
From there, everything goes quite insane.
The old leveL contains examples of:
- Art Evolution: To a remarkable degree.
- Government Conspiracy: With several levels.
- Major Injury Underreaction: Emory was just as creepy then as she is now. Possibly more. The underreaction made her seem nearly undead.
- Mind Screw
- Orphaned Series: What you'll think it is a few months after each update.
leveL went on a big hiatus from July 2010, then rebooted on August 1, 2013 on a brand-new website (you can still read the old version under "Extras").
Level. A city unlike any other. A sprawling metropolitan utopia. Technologically advanced and socially just, it is the highest achievement of civilisation. We built upon our labour, our struggles, our ideals.. and we have reached the sky.
Truly this is the city of dreams.
Three years after the Holopaque Storm, a mysterious event that shook up the city of LeveL, triggering a war between the Tiern and UnTiern, the only eyewitness of the Storm, Cael Dalton, is being assigned a new therapist. At the same time, an equally mysterious optimist Rain has a package to deliver.
These facts may be connected.
The Reboot has:
- Action Girl: Emory, though she's not very girly. Tal.
- Affectionate Pickpocket: Tal. Rain's Genre Savvy, though, and doesn't fall for her cute act.
- All Therapists Are Muggles: Reagan's a therapist and, surprisingly, not completely horrible at it.
- All There in the Manual: Here you can find information on the Tiers.
- The Anti-Nihilist: Rain tells it beautifully:Rain: We're more than the awful things we endure. Just because the world around me is awful doesn't mean I have to be.
- Ax-Crazy: Emory gives off a decidedly psychopathic vibe.
- Bad Dreams: Empaths get them. So does Cael, who denies being an empath, despite displaying all the signs of a developing one.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Rain is friendly, goofy and moral. Doesn't mean he can't handle whatever the Wretched Hive throws at him.
- Break the Cutie: Even before the Holopaque Storm, Cael was already neurotic and prone to mild panic attacks.
- Catapult Nightmare: Cael, which convinces him to put the panacea bracers on.
- Combat Parkour: Rain's style of fighting, awfully flashy and heavy on Three Point Landings, but gets the job done.
- Cute and Psycho: Miss Tal's true colours.
- Deadpan Snarker: Reagan is viciously snarky. Others get into action, too, but Reagan is the snarkmaster of the cast.
- Determinator: Tal. Does. Not. Give. Up.
- The Empath: Not a power to be envied. Will drive you mad, then catatonic, sooner or later.
- Fantastic Caste System: Nine castes, or "Tiers" (consult the manual), plus the UnTiern.
- Flashback Cut: Empaths induce these when touching you. May be used as a distraction, although sometimes A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Probably a sign of something using a person. Or not. Cael had them during his Freak Out! in the prologue.
- Hard Light: Loads. Makes for shiny special effects.
- Hollywood Autism: Informed Attribute of Cael.
- Human Weapon: Cael's fate if general Erato has his way. At least he softens the blow by framing it as an offer.
- Idea Bulb: Rain has them.
- Layered Metropolis: Level, partially built of Hard Light on higher levels, with a slum nearer ground.
- Medical Horror: The beginning of Chapter 1.
- Nerd: Upon seeing the Hard Light part of the city for the first time, Cael proceeds to Squee! so hard it's adorable. Other than that, he's very passionate about classical music.
- No Medication for Me: Reagan leaves her patient the choice of whether he wants to be medicated or not. He chooses medication, but might soon regret it.
- Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Wryn's ghost? Or whatever the thing is? for Cael. Though he might be Not So Imaginary Enemy just as well.
- Odd Couple: Neurotic, artsy Cael and his best friend, rougish Wryn.
- Our Slogan Is Terrible: "Teddy's Tar - We'll stick by you!"
- Painting the Medium: The site layout colours change with the proceedings of the story.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Quite possibly, Cael.
- Playful Hacker: Wryn is learning.
- The Pollyanna: Rain. When we meet him in Bad-Guy Bar, he avoids several mishaps and ends up with a beer bottle in his hands (which he promptly gives away):Rain: Free drink, how nice!
- Power of Trust: When they bond over music.Cael: If our spots were reversed [...] would you trust me?Reagan: (releases his bounds) Play me the song.
- Recurring Dreams: Cael has recurring Nightmares of Flying. Whether they're psychic or Dreaming the Truth remains to be seen.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The choleric Reagan and her quietly optimistic assistant Jordan. They even wear tops in their respective colours.
- Reluctant Psycho: Cael isn't crazy. So he says.
- Roof Hopping: The long Chase Scene starting here.
- The Scapegoat: The UnTiern, for the Holopaque Storm. This resulted in civil war, which is still raging at the time the story starts.
- Shining City: The opening narration claims Level is this.
- The Teetotaler: Rain "doesn't smoke and orders tea in a bar".
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Rain avoids killing and calls Emory out on it.
- Wrong Side of the Tracks: Sprawl. Some sectors get UnTiern (cut of from the Tiers system), making them even more of that.
- Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: The whole plot (or, at least, Cael and Wryn's involvement in it) started by them doing something they weren't supposed to.