Nordic GamesDeveloped By:
M for Mature (Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence)Release Date:
July 14, 2015Screenshots: LinkPlayStation Store: Buy Now!Written By:
Matthew PruntyAugust 11, 2015
Ė I canít get enough of these ďfirst-person story-driven mysteryĒ games that have been flooding the market recently. Itís nothing like experiencing an epic adventure that is rich in exploration and discovering the unknown. Exploration and discovery in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter are key as the game doesnít hold your hand throughout the experience and you must explore, discover and try to uncover the deep dark secret of the Carter family on your own.
The opening moments of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter are one of a statement and an internal narrative. The opening statement is one of how the game will treat your experience. Scrolled across the screen, you will see the statement, ďThis game is a narrative experience that does not hold your hand.Ē This may be a problem for those who donít play these types of games often or were simply looking to try something new. But with a little time and exploration, you will immediately see the allure of this game. After the opening statement, you are treated to a bit of internal narrative-based exposition by our protagonist Detective Paul Prospero, which is used to explain his background when dealing with ďextraordinary casesĒ and the reasons for his coming to Red Creek Valley. Once the narrative is complete, you find yourself exiting a train tunnel and entering a forest for which your detective work officially begins.
Upon exiting the tunnel, you are treated to a lush and desolate forest area. This is only a taste of what developer The Astronauts packed into the game. Going with almost photo-realistic environments allows the player to immersive themselves within the world and eases the tension that comes with having to explore the vast area(s) in order to solve the mystery of Ethan Carterís disappearance. You do what to be careful when exploring any of the locations within Red Creek Valley as there are plenty of surprises that can catch you off guard if you are not too careful. For those who are diligent, you will come across clues that will help point you in the right direction. However, donít expect to see any in-game tutorials or text pop-ups as this game is not your friend.
Because of the gameís approach to connecting with players and telling a rich narrative, many will be put off. This isnít a bad thing as the game was designed to have the player engaged in solving the mystery as if they were indeed a detective. Part of me feels this games as a distant connection to Quantic Dreamís Heavy Rain
in the sense that the story continues regardless of how events play out. In The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, you can walk past parts of the story without even knowing it. Being an avid player of RPG games Iíve learned how to explore and seek out items/information needed to help progress the story, so Iím used to these types of games. However, there were a few instances within the game that I cycled through the area a couple of times before I finally found that one clue that would let me advance the story to see the complete picture of the events within Red Creek Valley. Last and certainly not the least, there is no combat within the game. See will see events played out within the game via flashbacks but you canít get involved in any of those instances as they are used to help understand what happened in the town and guide you on your path for solving the case.
Going into The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, I knew the story was a solid experience ranging from 4-6 hours in order to complete. While that is indeed true for the most part, you will often find your first play through lasting longer than that. Seeing as the game doesnít hold your hand throughout the mystery, you must figure things out on your own; location of clues, why did these series of events take place, etc. Upon completing the game before putting together my review, my first playthrough clocked me in at around 10 hours. While I could of shaved some time off of the playthrough, I took my time exploring the vast areas, immersing myself in the world and getting into the role of being Detective Paul Prospero. For those who are trophy hunters, depending on how you approach the game, you can easily have to play through the experience twice in order to capture everything.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an experience deserving of your attention. Itís one of those rare experiences that removes all the popular troves that are in games of today and replaces them within a simple premise and allows you to play out the story in a way that is unique to the player. Throughout the experience, you will be engaged in the world that is Red Creek Valley and at points started by your findings. I tip my hat (if I was wearing one) to developer The Astronaut for forgoing popular culture for an experience thatís truly memorable; if albeit short. 8/
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