Platforms: PlayStation 4
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Developer: The Chinese Room / Santa Monica Studios
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
The Chinese Room, the team behind the acclaimed Ether One, have stayed true to their development stance and created yet another masterpiece of tragedy, and sadness. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a remarkable adventure, of self-interpretation, and mystery as you try to uncover the story behind the disappearance of an entire village, and possibly the entire world.
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The game is set in Yaughton, an English village in 1984, where dark skin was frowned upon, and ladies were raised to be housewives. The entire village has disappeared due to some supernatural phenomenon, and you, whoever you are, are left to uncover the events by following a set number of main stories left behind by village folk.As you explore the village, glowing spheres will guide you further into the mystery of the events. By exploring the valley and coming into contact with the memories left behind by the residence of Yaughton, you will slowly uncover what happened and how each of them were taken by the “Rapture“.
The “Rapture” is open to self-interpretation in the game’s story; how you perceive the event is completely up to you. It could be aliens, or a religious catastrophe that took the lives of the citizens, if they are even dead to begin with. How you see it is completely up to you.There is really nothing to the game’s mechanics. You can walk, run by building up speed, and interact with doors and light switches, but that is the extent of the button layout. There are no puzzles, or anything to pick up and carry. You make your way around the valley by following maps that have markers placed on them, you can also follow the light that guides you around the valley to new markers. There are radios that can be activated that contain recordings that hold some information to the game’s events, and telephones that play similar recordings of conversations between two people.
The only activities to undergo, other than watching memories replay, is collecting PSN trophies, and there are some pretty easy trophies to gather that make just playing through the game once rewarding.Exploring the valley is remarkable as the CryEngine makes Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture a visual masterpiece. Forests are lush, with accurate shadow casting, ponds have beautiful sun reflections on them, and the draw distance is spectacular. I was actually saying how I wish every game could look that good. Saying that, a few in-doors scenes come across a bit empty and visually underwhelming, but you spend most of your time on the road, so it makes no difference.
Although the game looks beautiful, it’s the pace which brings down the experience. Even though you can walk and run by holding down R2, by slowly building up speed. Backtracking is torturous, and really boring to be harsh. I had to return back to the start of the game to activate a microwave for a trophy, and it took me about 10 minutes to do so. After a while I had my controller one hand balancing my analogue and run button, and my phone in the other checking Facebook, keeping my mind from going completely mush.Staying in tune with each character is the main idea of the game, with each new area focusing on a new main character, forcing you to unravel the events that shed light on how they reacted to the end. The characters all have their own agenda, and each of them are linked to each other somehow, because it is a such small town. The themes of adultery, betrayal, and lost family play on your heart-strings, and make the game an emotional experience.
While you are watching all these events unravel, and you’re exploring the town, the game is backed by a soundtrack composed by Jessica Curry. There were times that the score brought chills down my spine as an orchestra medley followed the death of one of my favourite characters. Shedding a tear, I could not help but feel the sorrow that these poor people faced as they were taken. The musical score ties everything together perfectly and it would not be the same without it.Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is all about following a story, and paying attention. Sure it may not be the game that everyone would enjoy, and if you are impatient, then stay away. It is a work of art that you sit and interpret in your own way. Putting a face on the character that you loved the most, imagining the town on an average busy day, and wondering how exactly their lives would have played out if this catastrophe did not take place. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a remarkably interactive storybook, that demands being read.