Review- The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
By Zoe Howard On 5 Feb, 2018 At 04:42 AM | Categorized As Featured, News, Reviews, ROG News, Uncategorized, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

 

It’s not very often I can say I was wowed by a game. Especially a game that falls in to the category of walking simulator. I have played a few of these over the years and was left with a bad memory of thinking, well that wasted my time. No one wants to waste their time and I finally played one that didn’t do that. Well, mostly it didn’t.

Much like with many of these games, it is hard to really discuss the story. You are typically given very little of the story before you play the game and are left to discover what is actually going on through the game’s progression. Ethan Carter is no different. You start the game standing outside a train tunnel looking forward into a lush forest. Your character, named Paul Prospero, has received a letter from young Ethan Carter and has come to town to find out what has happened. You quickly stumble across a gruesome murder that tells you there is far more going on in the area than you had expected.

The story had me hooked from beginning to end. Every time you solve a puzzle you witness a scene of something that happened in the area. This is honestly as much as I feel I can comfortably say without giving anything away. I will say that the ending was a moment that I truly didn’t see coming. It will also leave you in shock of what you just actually saw. Not so much for the graphics though. They are beautiful in their own right but it’s the story that will really grab you.

As far as controls go the game is as basic as it comes and it works well here. The only controls you will need are the right trigger, as well as the A and B buttons. There is a zoom button on the left trigger but I never used it. The run button however was rarely let go of. I ran everywhere in the game. It was pretty much required given how far apart a lot of places are. A button is your go-to interact button while B crouches.

From the moment the game started I was stunned by how pretty the game is. The world is detailed so perfectly that you feel like you are in a real location,  something that won’t surprise you too much when you realize the developer based a lot of it on real locations. The lush environments create both a sense of ease and an ominous dread. The lack of human interaction in the main game does a great service to the idea that it’s the world you are there to experience. This is what a game of The X-Files should feel like, or really any of the TV shows that are based on mysteries with a hint of something supernatural. A lot of the cut scenes after the puzzles really gave me the impression of a Stephen King miniseries. Sure, they were hokey but they had a style all their own.

Most of the game’s progression is based on finding and solving the many puzzles littered about the world. For the most part the puzzles were moderate in challenge. I never found one that really challenged me. There were a few that tripped me up but not for long. The big thing about these puzzles is you have to stay alert. If you look at the surroundings and study everything you will understand what the game wants you to do. I would say even the most casual of gamers would find the puzzles as I did. Nothing too complicated but just enough to keep you guessing.

The issues in this game are the smallest kinds. The worst I saw were a few frame rate dips in the beginning of the game when new dialogue would start. There were also a few moments at the end of the game where the lines of audio dialogue were repeated over the next lines so it became a bit of a mess. This was it. The game as a whole is a well-oiled machine that runs great from beginning to end.

The biggest flaw in the game probably isn’t really a flaw. It’s an issue with the game genre itself. I don’t like calling it a walking simulator because the name has such a bad connotation attached to it. Yet I feel I need to say that the biggest issue in the game is the need to walk such long distances to find things. When you have where you need to go discovered, it makes the gameplay flow nicely. The real issue comes into play when you have no clue where to go next. You will find yourself roaming the entire map trying to find anything that will give you a clue as to what happens next. Still, I have to admit this only happened twice in my playthrough of the game and never lasted longer than twenty minutes.

I want to take a moment and give this game a special recommendation on the fact that it actually has a really suspenseful level. There is a section of the game that takes place in a series of caves. In one section in particular you are trying to find hints while avoiding what looks like a zombie with a lamp. Seeing as this is the first person you actually physically see that isn’t dead (granted it could have been a zombie. I don’t know.) it is a bit jarring. When you realize he is out to stop you it becomes a lot like the house in Resident Evil VII. You never know when you will round a corner and be surprised by someone.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is by far the best game I have played in this genre. With a compelling story and interesting puzzles, it had enough to keep me occupied to the end. If you aren’t a fan of these types of games, I would still recommend trying it. If you are already a fan of the genre, this is an easy recommendation.

 

 

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