I’m not a PC gamer. For my entire gaming career, I’ve played on consoles, and am currently an avid PS4 gamer. Some titles, however, are too scintillating to pass up. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was one of those.
I downloaded Steam, created an account, and entered the review code provided to me by the amazing folks at The Astronauts, the developers of the game. I phoned a friend, asking what settings my laptop would be able to handle, and was off.
Before I even began, the start menu had me hooked. This is an aesthetically beautiful game, more so than I’ve ever seen before. Then, the message, “This game is a narrative experience that does not hold your hand.” Fits my style to perfection.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter puts players in the role of Paul Prospero, a detective searching for a missing boy, Ethan. Prospero is no normal detective; he has the ability to open rifts, enabling him to see the past and piece together segments of memory until he can view the full scene. Players must solve these memory puzzles numerous times during the course of the game, and each one is better than the next.
Throughout my exploration of ‘Ethan’, I found myself feeling like an actual detective, writing down key plot points, and at one point, even facing up and down the hall of my dormitory trying to think of the solution to a puzzle.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is one of the creepiest games I’ve ever played. It’s got a True Detective-vibe about it, with an insane story that runs the gamut from murder and mental illness to (small spoilers) tentacles and aliens. The ambient soundtrack is absolutely perfect, and made me feel as though I was in the forbidden forest from the Harry Potter series.
Players jump in right in the middle of the mystery, and must piece together the story through clues and evidence as well as a good amount of intuition and interpretation. This method of environmental storytelling really resonates with me, because I’m forced to think in a way I don’ normally. Once the entire sequence is completed, players are rewarded with cut scenes featuring fantastic motion capture and voice acting.
To conclude, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is currently my Game of the Year, and has provided one of my best gaming experiences, ever. I’m STILL trying to wrap my head around its fantastic conclusion. Ethan is a profound, evocative, visually stunning, masterfully told piece of art; The Astronauts really outdid themselves with this title. The only negative thing I can provide is that the games save system is a bit funky, and messed me up more than once.