Reviewed on Xbox One; Also available on PlayStation 4 and PC.
I love a good eerie game; the chilling music, the hair raising noises, the jump scares. I love it all. Did The Vanishing of Ethan Carter have all these? Read on to find out.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a horror, adventure game in which you play as Supernatural Detective, Paul Prospero. As you find out very early on, Ethan Carter writes to you as a last resort, Prospero is there to help you when nobody else will. Prospero has been receiving ‘fan mail’ from Ethan for a while, but when some of those letters included some very unusual goings on, he goes in search of the missing boy.
It turns out Ethan has awoken something called The Sleeper, and it seems to be possessing your entire family. Ethan is trying to stop it. But how? You have to play it to find out!
As much as I enjoyed this dark tale, I couldn’t help but think certain details were missing. I don’t like finishing a story and still having questions regarding that story, and that’s what I had after finishing The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, unanswered questions.
Before you even take your first steps into this beautiful World, the game tells you that it is a narrative experience but it won’t hold your hand. This is the truest word spoken, it doesn’t tell you anything. You have to investigate everything, otherwise vital parts of the story can be easily missed.
After wondering round, doing nothing for what seemed liked forever (and looking at a few walkthroughs) I quickly realised there was more to do than just wander around finding objects that will explain a little more of the story (like most walking sims). Every ‘clue’ you find will be one small part of a very big story. Once you find every clue in that particular story, whether that be solving a puzzle or finding an object, you will then relive that scene, through the eyes of Prospero, looking in. Usually unearthing why or how a particular person was killed or died, giving you a little more insight into the weird and wonderful narrative.
One thing to note about this is that it is completely open world, which is unusual for a narrative game. You could go straight to the final part of the game if you wanted to, or if you could actually find it without some help.
Now, as much as I like a game that doesn’t walk you through literally every little detail, I feel as though The Vanishing of Ethan Carter left you to your own mind a little too much. If I had never looked at a walkthrough I probably would never have clocked on to the fact that these single clues I found where part of a much bigger picture, or I would’ve realised it much further on in the story. The good thing about this is these stories can be played in any order, they don’t all interlink. But it’s best the play them in the order you’re supposed to find them, right?
Graphics and Sound
This is the part where the game truly shines. You would never guess that this is a 4 year old game. Yes, the original release date was way back in 2014, and boy oh boy does it look good. It’s probably one of the most photorealistic games I have ever played. There is so much detail put into the landscapes, you can see every piece of grass, the way the sun bounces of the water, the broken buildings that clearly hold so much history. I was truly in awe.
The soundtrack is just as good, setting the scene with frightfully, beautiful music. The sounds really make your hairs stand on end, especially if you’re wearing some headphones. Numerous times I had to take my headphones off because I thought I heard things in my own house. I got paranoid. Just have a listen for yourself:
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter has a very unique play style, one that I’ve not come across in many games before, the only game I can quite compare it to is Murdered: Soul Suspect. The clue finding is very similar.
What the game lacks in story-telling it makes up for in it’s jaw-dropping graphics. It was enough to make me forget why I was playing the game, I was interested in what stunning sights I would come across next. Ultimately, this is a strictly narrative experience, and though it is a story worth hearing, it will leave you wanting to know more. I only wish that these questions would be answered and though I have a faint idea why these questions are left unanswered (you will understand that when you finish the game) I feel as though the fact that this game is only a short one, taking me just under 2 hours to complete 100%, it missed out some vital information that could have been there had it been a little longer.
Still, I recommend playing through this game, it was still an enjoyable experience despite its little kinks, and with a Suprisingly moving final scene which made the game for me. Oh, and for all you achievement lovers out there, you can 1000G this game in one play through.