The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

Dec 30, 2014 // 3 minutes

I have nice things to say about this title but its value comes down to what you, the reader, consider a priority. If you’re looking for a game that is going to keep you entertained for hours, this isn’t the one for you. If you ’ve been itching to explore an interactive world and uncover a mystery along the way, you will probably quite like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.

Once you press play, if you’re anything like me, you ’ll instantly notice just how nice the game looks. It isn’t something I try to bring up very often as graphics don’t make for fun gameplay but without trying to sound over dramatic, it almost felt like I had just stumbled into an oil painting. The environments feel like they have a filter that makes the world feel, hmm, I think soft would be the closest I can get to describing it accurately. I found that it was a nice inclusion that helped add to feeling immersed in the world.

The story is the main focus and I ’m not saying anything that might spoil it. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a boy named Ethan Carter has vanished. Before disappearing, he wrote a fan letter to Paul Prosporo, paranormal detective who is our protagonist. It becomes obvious very quickly that something horrible has happened in Red Creek Valley , so it’s your job to piece together the mystery along the way.

It ’s an exploration game which has been compared to Myst quite often as it comes with a lack of enemies or other NPCs. There are a few puzzles but nothing that is too hard to understand. I did find myself lost a few times in regards to where I was meant to be looking for a specific item. As long as you just make sure you search areas thoroughly, especially the darker spots, you ’ll be good to go.

At first glance, the game appears to have linear story telling as you move forward through the open world but if you choose to, you can investigate scenes in any order. I ’m not sure if I would go that route though since the majority of the story elements make the most sense when played in the order you find them going forward.

It has some great moments that I wish we had more of in games. For those of you who are Twin Peaks fans, it has a surreal moment or two that I ’m sure you’ll love. What’s that? Some of you are lovecraft fans? Why, there’s even a small bit of that in there too at one point but that’s all you’ll get out of me.

My biggest concern to those undecided would have to be the price. For some, it isn ’t a problem at all but for others, I don’t feel that the price tag would justify an experience that is about 3 - 4 hours long, depending on how much you explore.

Exploring the world is nice. It kept me guessing as to what was going on in the town until the very end where it flips the story upside down with a twist that I didn ’t expect. Not the biggest twist in storytelling of course but I enjoyed my brief time visiting Red Creek Valley. If I had to do it again, I think I would most likely wait for a sale though.