There are many adventure games out there and the majority of them are really good in their own right. So any development team at the moment, be it Indie or AAA would need something that is different in order to be a success. Indie developers The Astronauts, has released The Vanishing of Ethan Carter that is offering that something special that other games of this genre can’t offer. So have they managed to achieve this or not? Let us take a look below.
Developer: The Astronauts
Publisher: The Astronauts
Genre: Action, Indie
Release Date: 10 September 2014
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo / AMD Equivalent
VGA: Nividia or AMD GPU with 1 GB Ram
RAM: 4 GB
HDD: 9 GB
Thanks to the developer for the review code
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a first-person shooter that has been created using the Unreal Engine. The story sees you playing as paranormal detective Paul Prospero, who has received a disturbing letter from a young boy, Ethan Carter. Being experience in these types of cases the detective arrives at Red Creek Valley only to find that Ethan has disappeared. So now it is down to Paul and his special abilities to try and find the boy or at least what happened to cause him to disappear so suddenly.
The game begins with a message that says “This game is a narrative experience that will not hold your hand” and it does just this. There is no set pattern and you can visit the whole world of Red Creek Valley and treat it like an open-world environment. This is a great idea from the guys at The Astronauts at first, but then it becomes apparent that you need to check each area as you go along or otherwise you end up backtracking a lot. Without spoiling anything, you can walk past the first two puzzles but then when you are somewhere else in valley, you realise you can’t interact with anything so you need to head back to start from the beginning to work things out.
That is only a minor niggle though and if you have ever played adventure games before then you will examine each location logically before you advance anyway. And to be fair you wouldn’t want to skip sections as solving the first mystery which is in the first five minutes is really fun and rewarding in itself, as the special gift of Paul reveals some important part in the life of Ethan. When you investigate a scene you will notice that there will be a word which you must look at and then click to be given facts associated with that event.
The short text will scroll around the screen until you walk away. This is the games way of telling you that this is very important to the scene you are investigating. When you fit all of the clues together in the right order then the detective will be able to use his sense and get a recreation of what happened. Other times using this ability will show you the location of an item that is needed. You can also speak to ghosts in order to get more information on what has transpired. This is where sometimes being an open world environment and not having to complete puzzles in an set order can be a problem as the story fragments you unlock won’t make sense until you get to the end of the game. But in order to get to the end of the game you must solve all the mysteries.
The visuals are very nice and very detailed. It is based on the Unreal Engine and the developers have even got the grass to look real and like the trees, move realistic with the wind in the game. The buildings look very authentic and you get the real sense that the town really is abandoned and full of paranormal going-on. The difficulty of the puzzles are good and will require you think, but nothing to complicated that it will have you running to nearest walkthrough to solve it.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a very solid adventure game. I like the idea that The Astronauts came up with by having no set pattern of the narrative, but it does make the story a little hard to understand and can have you running all around the environment. It is an idea that has a lot of potential and hopefully for their next title they can implemented again and make it something special. Those who like adventure games should really buy this as you won’t be disappointed.