A Mystery game with a mystery feel, strange game but strange good.
We went into ‘The Vanishing of Ethan Carter’ not really knowing to expect. As soon as the story starts the player is presented with an air of mystery. The Player finds themselves in the shoes of Detective Paul Prospero, who is walking down a train track and through a tunnel in what seems like a hallucination.
The game’s mystery is in the not knowing. We were walking down the train track not really knowing where it was leading to and the subtle eerie soundtrack playing in the background added well to the tense mystery atmosphere.
In our playthrough, we decided to stray off the track to then get a jump scare as a bear trap sprung up in front of the detective’s face. Right then this set the tone for the game and it’s a pretty creepy one.
Later on, finally finding out the game’s purpose. The Detective has gone to investigate the vanishing of a boy that could see supernatural things, for now that is all the player knows and all that is needed.
As the player exits the woods and following the track to a bridge, you are presented with beautiful vistas that spread out into the distance. This adds to the tranquillity and the sense of being alone.
Puzzles are presented by looking at key parts (the first being a blood splattered train) and investigating them. Words flash up showing the detective’s thought process and then the player is able to solve puzzles by matching things up. For example, finding a body further down the track with severed legs, no explanation why. When alligning all the parts to when the death happened, a bit of the story is revealed.
The game is graphically great, we got lost just walking around the beautiful scenery of Red Creek Valley. Then we got to the puzzles. Even though the game doesn’t prompt the player to solve puzzles, the feelings of wanting to solve the puzzle gets it going. To learn more about the game whilst also being terrified at the same time is a over-arching story feeling. A few of the puzzles had us scratching our head, but no one likes an easy puzzle.
The game is very good at psychologically scaring the player, it’s not like there is zombies or anything, just the fear of what lies up ahead. With a lot of horror games going towards shooting hordes of enemies these days, it is good just to go back to a game that can be played with the lights off and be scared half to death whilst unravelling a mystery at the same time.
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