The general media has the idea that videogames are a violent entertainment in which you must mindlessly kill stuff left and right. They’d be kinda right most of the time but I just noticed that lately I’ve been playing a ton of adventure games that feature no combat at all. Is the industry changing or just diversifying? In my opinion it’d be the latter but I digress. This is just a review on the Vanishing of Ethan Carter.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a first person adventure game in which you must solve various puzzles to uncover the truth behind the dissapearance of a boy. Since this is kind of a story driven game, the least I spoil about the plot, the better.
You’ll be playing as an investigator with paranormal powers and the coolest name ever, Paul Prospero. As the game starts you’ll be thrown right away into Red Valley to find Ethan Carter, a young fan that’s been sending you letters and that, like yourself, shares special powers that seem to have gotten him in danger.
The game does not give any tangible instructions and since the valley is a seamless open world, on the first minutes with the game I was pretty lost. Where are the limits of the puzzle areas? Are the puzzles even mandatory or optional? What am I supposed to be doing? Should I keep walking further or should I look around this area? The game doesn’t answer any of those questions and it’ll have to be your gamer intuition the one responding for that. Luckyly, after you’ve done a couple puzzles you’ll start to see how the developers are laying down the areas and everything will seem pretty intuitive.
The game’s core revolves around solving murders related to Ethan’s dissapearance. You have to use your powers to locate clues, then recreating the murder scene, and putting in place the timeline of events as they happened.
Apart from that, there are several other puzzles that will uncover different side stories. None of those puzzles are too complex really, the main difficulty lays in actually finding them and guessing what you’re supposed to be doing.
Red Valley’s vistas are stunning. The trees, the lake, the mountains… the setting looks absolutely amazing and the attention to detail really helps you immerse into the world.
Contrasting with that however, there are the character models. They look kinda dated when they’re put side to side with the gorgeous scenery. It’s not that important though since those characters only appear during the murder recreations and you’ll be mostly alone in your adventure.
Things I liked
- Immersive: If you could be a videogame tourist, I’d probably spend my next vacations in this setting. It’s not the biggest open world but it is so detailed that feels very real and it’s simply gorgeous to look at.
- Charming stories: The main story has some interesting twists and turns and that alone is worthy of a playthrough but then you have the side stories which are also great. They’re strange but in a kind-of-dark whimsical way.
Things I didn’t
- Overwhelming start: Like I mentioned, during my first steps in this game I was pretty lost. You’re just thrown into a gorgeous open world with a vague objective and you have to figure things out yourself. Kinda appropiate for a puzzle game I guess but a tutorial through the first puzzle would have been helpful.
Who’d like this?
If you enjoy stories in games and puzzles, or just any kind immersive adventure games you’ll probably enjoy this quite a bit. Even though I didn’t have the best start, I really ended up loving my experience in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.
<The game is available on ps4 and other platforms>