01st Oct2014

‘The Vanishing of Ethan Carter’ Review (PC)

by Paul Metcalf


Adventure games tend to have a set narrative, they like to guide you by the hand and lead you through the scenes to make sure you are doing things right and not deviating from the set path.  This has worked ever since the origins of computer games, right back to text-based adventures so why change what works? The Vanishing of Ethan Carter refuses to take you by the hand, in fact it just sets you walking down a tunnel leading to Red Creek Valley with an invitation to find a missing boy known as Ethan Carter.

You play the role of private detective Paul Prospero whose occult style of investigative work gives him the ability to see a ghostly re-enactment of the crimes he investigates, as long as the scene is set correctly.  This entails you as the player to look for the evidence and place the missing pieces before working out the chronology.  Once this has been found then you move onto the next part of the story, solving the clues until all the parts fit, revealing the truth behind the mystery.

The fact that you are just placed into the valley with no real introduction is at first confusing.  Walking around the forest you find traps and pieces of paper revealing clues as to events that have happened, but you have no real clue as to what they mean.  These can just be stories written by Ethan Carter himself or hints as to just why people have died, and there are a few bodies lying around waiting to be discovered (all important to the plot of course).  Due to the fact that there are few hints as to what you should do, I found it is possible to leave certain elements of the story completely unsolved.  You tend to pay for this later as you have to hunt out what you have missed to make sure the full jigsaw is put together.

Whether you choose to use keyboard and mouse or a gamepad on the PC, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a game that is easy to control.  Mostly it is about the exploration and clicking/pressing a button to interact or touch an object that you have discovered.  Everything is intuitive and designed in such a way as to not get in the way of what is important, and that is the story.  H.P Lovecraft fans will feel very much at home with the style of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, the inspiration from the writer is very much evident in the game and it doesn’t hide from that fact.

The most important thing about The Vanishing of Ethan Carter has to be the immersion of the gamer into the world.  Red Creek Valley is a beautiful place, even on a mid-spec PC.  The better the quality the graphics though the more beautiful the area becomes.  I never felt pulled away from the game because of poor visuals or bad voice acting, this is a game that fully pulls you into the world and although it isn’t a long game, for the time you are in it, it really is a beautiful experience.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an interactive story that fully pulls you into the world and makes you invest in the character of Paul Prospero.  I’ve made a point of not revealing any plot points, because this is a game that truly shines when you go into the experience cold, so try not to spoil it for yourself.  Haunting, creepy and above all eerily mysterious The Vanishing of Ethan Carter may not have that much replay value but will stick in your memory as a truly beautiful experience.

****½  4.5/5

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is available on PC through Steam and GOG.com now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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