Dear Esther Devs Remove Time Limit From PS4 Exclusive, Everybody's Gone To Rapture

The Chinese Room decides the full, un-timed experience might be better.

Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs developer, The Chinese Room, are creating a new PS4 exclusive title Everybody's Gone to the Rapture. This intriguing title plops the player down in the rural and serene Shropshire, England, one hour before the end of the world.

Algernon: Got nice neighbours in your part of Shropshire?

Jack: Perfectly horrid! Never speak to one of them.

Algernon: How immensely you must amuse them!

- Oscar Wilde's Importance of Being Earnest

One of the biggest draws of Everybody's Gone to the Rapture was that a one hour-long time limit would be enforced on the game. After a full hour, the game would end; just like the world would end. The terrain will be small enough to be traversed diagonally in 20 minutes. However, studio head Dan Pinchbeck has decided that this mechanic might be detrimental to the gameplay experience. In an interview with Eurogamer: 

"Originally, when we started the game off it was going to be an hour long for each playthrough. It would be almost like kind of a Groundhog Day or 12:01-type thing where you've got an hour. How far can you get? How much can you explore? Imagine reading a novel and you're really into it, and 30 pages before the end someone comes up and takes it out of your hand and goes, 'I'm afraid that's it. Your time's up.' It's an artificial conceit that doesn't necessarily produce a good player experience."

Unlike Dear Esther, players will be able to interact with the world around them in Everybody's Gone the Rapture in order to drive the experience.

Unlike Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs, players will have the ability to freely roam in an open world. A small open world, but still an open world.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture exercises exploration and non-linear gameplay experiences. Whatever objects and images you find will help to piece together a story. While Pinchbeck noted that he wanted a rich experience where players would have reason to replay the game, he also doesn't think that players should be forced to replay the game.

 "I like the idea that a player can go back to a game and discover new things, but that's not always the case if they're stopped from experiencing everything the game has to offer. It should be that the game is rich enough and interesting enough that you can understand it in a different way when you return to it, and certainly that has been our experience with Esther, and Pigs as well. So it's more about kind of going, 'We want to tell a really good story, where we want the player to have a really engaging story-driven experience.' That's the target and the rest of the game will sort of mould and shape right up to the wire to try to make sure that's happening."

While this could be seen as a shot fired at recent indie title Anti-Chamber, an experimental game with a two-hour time limit, Pinchbeck seems have his heart in the right place. The Chinese Room is extremely talented at creating innovative worlds with breathtaking narratives; they'd hate for you to miss out on a valuable experience due to a time limit. Time will still play a central role in the game, but we don't know the details quite yet. So far there has not been a release date announced for Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, but we will see more details as the eventual launch approaches.

Of course, if you really like the idea of the one hour time limit, you could just restart the game yourself after an hour of play.

The rest of Eurogamer's review also reveals some interesting commentary about Pinchbeck's desires to possibly make more traditional games in the future. It is well worth the read if you've been following The Chinese Room.


Published Dec. 11th 2013

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