Title: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
Genre: Horror/Narrative/”Weird Fiction”
Developer: The Astronauts
Release Date: Sept 25th, 2014
Platform(s): PC (Steam and GOG)
Reviewed On: Steam
The very first thing you see in this game.
“This game is a narrative experience that does not hold your hand.”
And boy oh boy was that a true statement.
You play the game as Detective Paul Prospero, who has received letters from Ethan Carter, a character whom you discern is in terrible danger. This game really isn’t meant to be rushed. It is a fine wine and, as they tell you from the start, is a narrative experience. So experience the narrative. You want to make sure you cover almost all of the ground. Personally, I’m used to just kind of moving along and stumbling across the points of interest of the game to move the story. While you will find some things this way, it will not get you through the story correctly. You will oftentimes have to move through areas you wouldn’t think to or return back to certain places nearby to really get all the pieces of the puzzle.
I use the term puzzle lightly because this isn’t a complex puzzle game. You just have to make sure you find all the pieces before moving on. Paul Prospero has the ability to communicate with the dead, so upon gathering all of the pieces and clues of the murder, you will be able to look at the dead body and sense what happened. You are then given certain points of interest of the murder of which you have to discern the order in which they occurred. After doing so you can see the scene play out before your eyes.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is not a game meant to scare you. Things don’t often (actually I think only once) pop out at you. There is no combat. There is you, the player, and the story that needs to be told. However, I felt uneasy the whole game while playing. There was never a “phew” moment where something had ended and I could relax. The whole game had a general spookiness about it. The soundtrack alone was brilliant to dictate the overall feeling of the game. Just the music alone gave me chills practically the whole time playing the game.
The sound was great, and the visuals. Oh boy the visuals. The game is beautiful. There are parts of the game where you are traveling from one area to the next and they are kind of dedicated to presenting the setting to the player and basically, sightseeing. There is a part walking across a dam where I just looked out over the water and I took a screenshot for myself for a nice desktop background.
It is hard to really tell you about the game without giving away too much. If you enjoy playing through narratives, or want to feel spooked out for a few hours, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is your game. Find out what happened to Ethan and his family with a truly, fun way to get through the story. I have to say that the story is well done, and the ending I found to be just as good as the game itself.
I really liked the experience that The Vanishing of Ethan Carter gave me. For the price of taking a date to the movies or, for the lonely, paying to see two movies back to back, you get at the very least a four-hour long story. (My final finish time while blazing through it as fast as possible). This game will make you feel creeped out and with an ending of the story that I seriously recommend playing through the game just to experience. I even restarted the game twice just to make sure I was getting everything I felt like the game had to give me. The downside is that the game doesn’t really tell you much about the mechanics, but once you solve that first murder the game moves so much smoother. Remember to explore and take in all the sites, and check every inch of Red Creek Valley to make sure you didn’t miss anything.