Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture Review
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, like Dear Esther and Gone Home before it is a part of a new genre of story-driven adventure titles, called ‘walkathons’ by some and ‘walking simulators’ by others that do away with the gameplay in favour of immersion, exploration and a solid story. Developer, The Chinese Room who have had commercial and critical success previously with Dear Esther and have decided to revisit the genre once again with a PlayStation 4 exclusive – Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. So how does it fit into Sony’s line-up and is it really worth getting excited about? Let’s find out motherlickers!
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a narrative-driven exploration game in which the tale behind the title is mysterious, and slowly reveals itself in an unconventional and non-chronological manner. The game is set in the idyllic hamlet of Yaughton in a finely crafted representation of country England circa 1984. Something has happened to the people of the sleepy township and the aim of the game is to uncover the story behind the events leading up to their disappearance piece by piece and trying to uncover the fate of the residents who once lived here.
The game features very little in the way of gameplay. From the get go, players are let loose into the game’s large open world and are permitted to wander through the verdant English countryside as they wish. Although the environment is eerily devoid of human life, there is still movement to be found in the setting and this is done via mysterious balls of floating light. Moving orbs act as guide that will lead you to the next important conversation that will further progress the story whilst stationary orbs will appear as you approach specific locations and represent said conversations. Using the six-axis controller similarly to the tuner on a radio will allow players to ‘tune’ into the memory at that location.
The game‘s story is told via short snippets of important conversations between prominent citizens of the town located throughout the map. Each of the six successive areas focuses on one particular character’s story and upon learning enough about the character’s situation, the game encourages players to move towards the next area. Although following the aforementioned guiding orbs will move you through the game world, through the six stories and onto the ending in a fairly efficient manner, ignoring these however is advised as doing your own exploring will reveal a great number of optional memories featuring a range of secondary characters, radio messages and recorded phone messages that will help flesh out the story even further.
The presentation in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is excellent. The world itself is incredibly well made with glorious visuals, excellent texture work and is expertly packed with hundreds of finer details that give the impression that humans just ceased to exist. The environment is pitch perfect with Yaughton, its surrounding farms and small warehouse/industrial workings all retaining a sense of authenticity about them.
As is to be expected, the music and voice work were incredibly important in a story based solely around conversations to convey the game’s narrative and it is obvious that a lot of time and effort has been invested into making both attributes as good as they could possibly be. The music features sweeping orchestral scores and melancholic tunes that work well with the environs to deliver a spooky, hollow atmosphere whilst the voice acting is fantastic and quite emotive, giving life to the town’s various characters.
Unfortunately the title does have some irritating attributes; the default movement speed is very slow and at times feels like what I imagine a first person snail simulator might be like. Fortunately there is a method of speeding movement up slightly (hold in the R2 button for 3-4 seconds) so it is much less painful to traverse those wide open spaces, but the game never once mentions it. The story should take in the neighbourhood of 5-6 hours to complete and is piecemeal at best until things start to come together closer to the end, so for those without a little patience, or Call of Duty players after instant gratification may want to look elsewhere.
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