Dear Esther Developer Dives Into the Post-Apocolyptic

A few months ago, I wrote about the illusion of choice in thechineseroom's  mod/interactive story/game, Dear Esther. As a fan of atmospheric adventure games, Dear Esther struck me in a way that other games generally haven't, but it also left me feeling uncomfortably cheated from an actual game.

Lucky for fans of Dear Esther's concept, thechineseroom's David Pinchbeck has announced a new atmospheric game: Everybody's Gone to the Rapture.

Rapture is a (beautiful) game about the end of the world. Ostensibly the game is about six characters and their interactions with the world, but the player doesn't actually need to do anything to progress the story. For the most part, you play as an observer, deciding whether or not to follow a specific character, sit in the middle of the town, or try to take everything in during the course of your game.

Whether you choose to or not is a different matter. It's perfectly feasible to play Rapture by standing still in the middle of the world. The game's characters will continue to follow their own path, and their actions will still change the world, so you'll still get to experience a story even if you decide not to participate in it.

Of course, thechineseroom is set out to improve upon Dear Esther, not recreate it. Rapture is a purely story-driven game, but the variation Rapture provides comes from interaction, not discovery. The game is designed to produce different experiences each time you play it, as you're only allotted an hour of play time each game. What you do with that time is up to you.

 "By definition, in a post-apocalyptic world you can’t save the world… because it’s already ended. You’re basically dead and trying to eke out as much time as possible," says Pinchbeck. “The world’s ending, so there are no heroics any more. It flips our normal understanding on its head. So why is this bleakness so appealing?"

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is due for release this summer.

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HC Billings is an excellent gamer, acceptable writer, and laughable parkourist.

Published Sep. 1st 2017

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