In The Vanishing of Ethan Carter you play as Paul Prospero, who has unique abilities to sense information from the dead and to piece crime scenes back together. Paul has been summoned by Ethan Carter with a disturbing letter. Recognizing the child is in danger, he heads to Red Creek Valley to assist. Upon arrival he discovers that even more is going on than he realized, and he is determined to find Ethan Carter and solve a series of gruesome murders.
On a technical level The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a murder mystery, exploration interactive story. The gameplay consists of moving through the world, discovering clues, manipulating items, a few puzzles, and piecing together crime scenes. Each of these components is fairly standard in games today.
What makes The Vanishing of Ethan Carter special is the way The Astronauts assembled these components and then placed them in one of the most breathtakingly gorgeous game environments you have ever seen. Let me reiterate that before you play this game make sure you have full resolution screenshots enabled in Steam (Settings > In-Game > Save Uncompressed). You will find yourself wanting to take site seeing photos as you progress through the game.
On top of this magnificent visual backdrop is an interface that is simple, intuitive and effective. There isn’t a great deal of magic for an interface that only requires clicking on things you see, but I’m thankful that The Astronauts did not needlessly complicate this as it is sometimes easy to do.
I won’t spoil any of the puzzles for you, but suffice to say that the puzzles in Ethan Carter are well done, but the game is not overly puzzle driven. It has enough puzzles to keep you on your toes and enough variety that you aren’t doing anything repetitive.
Finally, let’s talk story. In total, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an interactive story that is laid about before the player for you to discover. If the story doesn’t hook you, then it will feel a bit short and maybe predictable. If The Vanishing of Ethan Carter does hook you, then you will be absolutely rocked by it. I have to admit that I cried at the end. I’m not a leaky faucet, and it’s not like I broke down on the floor weeping, but I definitely had a deep emotional reaction to the wrap-up of this game.
In my opinion, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter will be historically remembered as a bright point example of finely crafted, taut, focused games that people will talk about wistfully for years. The game has been, and will be, compared to interactive puzzle games like Myst. That comparison is not inaccurate, but neither is it complete. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is everything those games are and more, reimagined with modern technology into a distinct creation. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a finely crafted cigar box. It is art, it has a purpose, and its contents will bring you enjoyment.
If you are fan of this genre, then it is criminal to not play this game. At $20.00, if you consider yourself a fan of interactive stories then you have to give The Vanishing of Ethan Carter a try. There are valid criticisms. The game could be longer, some depth could be added to the story, some of the transitions could be clearer, the difficulty could be tweaked. Nonetheless, I gave The Vanishing of Ethan Carter a 10 because I can’t prove to myself that any of those changes could make the game better.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Review
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a finely crafted cigar box. It is art, it has a purpose, and its contents will bring you enjoyment.What Our Ratings Mean