The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter Promises A Lot More Than Just Hauntingly Beautiful Visuals
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a first-person mystery adventure game with a strong focus on exploration and discovery, but no combat whatsoever. The game combines the world of detective mysteries, with Lovecraftian horror and adventure galore. But does it all add up?
Name: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
Genre: Now you don’t
Platforms: PC, PS4
Developers: The Astronauts
Publishers: The Astronauts, Nordic Games
Release Date: 25 September 2014 (PC), TBA 2015 (Playstation 4)
Price: $19,99 (PC)
In The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, you play as Paul Prospero, an occult detective who receives a frightening letter from a boy named Ethan Carter seeking Paul’s help. After realising that the boy may be in deep danger, Paul sets on a journey to Ethan’s home town of Red Creek Valley. Strange things are going on in Red Creek Valley, and they appear to be of the supernatural variety. Obviously. Ethan has vanished, as per the title of the game, following a horrendous murder which leads Paul on a search for the missing boy.
The game which is in development by indie studio The Astronauts, a team consisting of staff from People Can Fly who developed Painkiller and Bulletstorm to name a few. The Vanishing of Ethan Cater is inspired by strange fiction and tales of the macabre, with a strong Lovecraftian influence present. Other sources of inspiration come from the early Twentieth Century. The aim of the game for the developers is to evolve immersive storytelling in games. Essentially The Astronauts hope that the game is a narrative experience you can submerge yourself in. The developers argue that the game is not puzzle-ridden and they say:
“Our focus is on atmosphere, mood, and the essential humanity of our characters.”
This is quite an interesting sentiment regarding the game’s design and from the gameplay commentary video (which is available above in case you hadn’t noticed). You can see that the game is indeed going to focus on atmosphere, mood and characters with a strong direction towards exploration, and solving the mysteries surrounding certain deaths you come across. This of its own accord makes The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter an interesting proposition in the current gaming space.
The game’s design is also facilitated by Paul’s unique supernatural abilities which adds new dimensions to the exploration and discovery aspects of the game. You will need to use Paul’s supernatural skills to peek into past events by recreating a crime scene in order to communicate with the dead. Of course you have to be observant of your surroundings and discover the mystery behind all the deaths you encounter. All of this appears to be tied with a dark ancient force, Cthulhu and The Old Ones perhaps, as well as the mystery around the vanishing of Ethan Carter himself.
The game allows you to explore the beautiful and creepy open world of Red Creek Valley which was created through the use of photogrammetry technology which has aided in the development of the photorealistic environments you see in the game. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter feels visually fresh and the character design is impeccable, on top of the jaw dropping rendered environments where not artificial barriers are present. So you are free to explore to your heart’s content. A more interesting part of the game is that you’ll be able to communicate with the dead, as mentioned above. You’ll be able to put together the sequence of events that led to a character’s death, which will all depend on the clues you collect and how observant you are of your surroundings.
Suspected Selling Points
- The game offers a unique detective story and interesting gameplay dynamics that may set it apart from similar games like the recent Murdered: Soul Suspect.
- With beautiful photorealistic visuals, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a true sight to behold, particularly considering that this is an indie game.
- The game is heavily influenced by early twentieth century literature with a strong horror influence. This already has our interest piqued for where The Vanishing of Ethan Carter could be heading.
- The gameplay mechanics and clue system may be far too simplistic to appeal to of this niche genre.
- The game may prove to be far too ambitious with all its promises, especially in regards to its open world.
- Little is known about the story and the horror elements don’t seem all that terrifying at first glance.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter promises an experience which will be delivered in a non-linear fashion in which the story will follow suit with the works of Stefan Grabinski, Raymond Chandler, Algernon Blackwood and H. P. Lovecraft, as previously referred to. The game features no combat whatsoever and promises to be quite the ride with an interesting premise and beautiful visuals. Whether the game will live up to all its promise is something that can only be ascertained upon the game’s release. Unfortunately we are not clairvoyant so while The Vanishing of Ethan Carter looks mighty promising, it could very easily be a let down. We recommend waiting for reviews to decide whether this game is worth picking up.