The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
Review by Aaron Rout (Here-Comes-Bod)
“Ethan Carter I didn’t know. But he knew who I was. When the police won’t help you, and the priests don’t believe you, you call on Paul Prospero. You call on me.”
As you emerge from a train tunnel into the town of Red Creek Valley the voice over informs you that you are psychic investigator Paul Prospero. After receiving a letter from the title character, you arrive to find the town is deserted and so begins your investigation into his disappearance.
Apart from this introduction and some occasional further thoughts from your character during the game, you are left to work out what you need to do to solve the mystery on your own. This can be daunting at first as you try to solve the puzzles in order to progress the game, but also adds to the general spookiness as you slowly begin to discover that ething very strange is going on.
Although being a psychic investigator, you have some interesting abilities to make the job a little easier. As you solve puzzles and find clues, your thoughts appear on screen (Sherlock style) and as you piece together what happened you are then able to visualize the events as a ghostly vision.
You are free to explore the town any way you like and thus solve the puzzles in any order. The story is constructed in such a way that you can view the different cut-scenes, that you get after solving the puzzles, in any order without missing any important plot points. That being said, as you have to work these things out by yourself, I did find myself back tracking a few times to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.
So you will find yourself wandering around the map occasionally wondering what to do next. But the good news is you wont mind the journey as the backgrounds are absolutely stunning. I would go so far to say that they are some of the best graphics I have seen on the PS4. For an indie game that is some achievement.
The story telling and atmosphere are also superb. The story is engrossing and the supernatural undertones keep you gripped as the game builds the tension right up to its powerful conclusion. For me, unfortunately, the ending doesn’t quite work. To avoid spoilers I can not say here why I believe it contradicts some earlier motives. But don’t let that put you off what is one of the best indie games around.
The ending is somewhat open to interpretation and you may or may not feel that it concludes the game in the way you hoped, but it does not spoil the engrossing and beautiful journey. Stunning graphics and great story telling make this a must have for anyone looking for a great adventure.