Developer – The Chinese Room
Format – PS4
Genre – Exploration
In a nutshell….
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (EGTTR) is a walking simulator set in a Shropshire town, where you follow a glowing orb (for the most part) to reveal a sparse narrative, delivered through the exchanges of phantom characters.
Let me expand….
Now, do not allow my opening statement to put you off, because although the premise may not sound ground-breaking, what EGTTR achieves in terms of building a sense of intrigue through an often bleak and inanimate world, is nothing short of miraculous.
I will begin by suggesting that EGTTR will no doubt divide opinion. Some will quip, “seriously man, it’s not even a game. You just walk around a press ‘X’ to activate radios and shit!”, whereas others will speak highly and fondly of an unforgettable experience that will leave a lasting impression. It’s fair to say that neither opinion should be judged too harshly, as both assessments of The Chinese Room’s latest creation, would be right on the money.
Set in the picturesque town of Yaughton, EGTTR immerses you in a beautifully rendered environment set in the English countryside, only to thrust you into the role of a detective right off the cuff.
As you take your first (very slow) footsteps you are met with a cryptic and poignant voice-over that dryly informs you, “This is Dr. Katherine Collins. I don’t know if anyone will hear this. It’s all over. I’m the only one left”. It’s quite an opening line and somewhat hard to digest when the town in view seems so quaint and colourful.
Initially, you are left with no immediate directive of where you should start in your search for answers, in the empty town before you. The story is narrated cleverly through the exchanges of a handful of key town folk via radio broadcasts, telephone conversations and through routine ‘phantom conversations’ born out of the light sphere that appears early in the game and points you to your next objective. These interactions build the plot and how the story unravels (and how much of it) is up to you – the player – the more you explore the town and locate important pieces of intel, will determine how much of the puzzle is pieced together at the end of the game.
The two main characters in the game are Dr. Katherine Collins and her husband Stephen, who speak about a mysterious light known as ‘the Pattern’ that they discovered when looking out at the stars from the town observatory.
As the story unfolds through various exchanges between Collins, Stephen and the other town inhabitants you piece together the close and fractured relationships of the townspeople and piece by piece you learn how and why people are disappearing, as well as what ‘the Pattern’ is and what it intends to achieve.
I spent most of my time in Yaughton overwhelmed with intrigue as I looked to unravel the mystery surrounding this lifeless but yet strangely vibrant town. I constantly expected the definitive answer to be right around the corner, but even as the end credits rolled there is still no one taking responsibility to spell out exactly what has just happened. In fact, as far as I am aware there is actually no reference to or mention of who you actually play as in the game, which leaves the whole narration open to interpretation.
A key element that enrichens the experience is the remarkable score that accompanies you throughout. Angelic voices call out in tandem, creating a chilling and emotional experience. If the perfect soundtrack was ordered to accompany the story, then the Chinese Room hit the jackpot when they appointed Jessica Curry to produce the sound bytes.
Opinions will no doubt be divided when summarising either a short-lived or absurdly rewarding journey into the unknown, but I ‘m sure a majority would agree that Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a unique experience. If you’re looking for an all-action gaming experience, then EGTTR is not going to hit the spot. However, if you are looking to be immersed in a beautiful environment with a mystery to be unearthed, then this is a title worth the attentions of most.
Mesmeric and delightfully confusing, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is an incredibly emotional and enlightening experience that lock on to our deepest and darkest fears and leaves a bittersweet message for all to engage with. The message may be unclear to some and is open to interpretation, but after completion I felt a pang of sadness which quickly
Why is EGTTR so engrossing and intriguing? I believe it’s strengths are in its story telling, despite the fact that the story-telling is actually pretty vague. The narrative rumbles along with no real fluidity and yet (assuming you explored most of the town) gives you just enough direction and information to piece some semblance of a story together. I confess that I was pretty confused and after completion I took to gaming sources that could spell out the whole experience for me and it kind of how I understood it to be. ‘Alien’ light source is detected, somehow it travels to Yaughton and vaporises its inhabitants and then spreads – presumably sending the World population to the Rapture.
It’s incredibly moving and its message is poignant. Perhaps others will read into the story delivery different and EGTTR will draw out different emotions, but the way I see it is there’s a tangled web amidst a story of love, connection and not taking things/people for granted.
The characters contained within the story all play their part. There’s adultery, jealousy, conflict and despair and above all there is love, devotion and valuing what we stand for as a race.
Whether or not this walking simulator is for you will be decided in the first hour or so, however if you choose to give into the light that seduces you as you learn the truth behind this tragic and moving story, then I’m sure it will leave a lasting impression and will leave you with an enduring experience to savour.
How it Scored
+ Incredible score
+ Clever and unique narrative
+ The perfectly rendered town of Yaughton
+ Great voice acting
-Some will be frustrated by the
A blissfully serene experienced laced with doom.
8.8 / 10