Thursday, June 1, 2017

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture Review (PS4)

Welcome to the village of Yaughton in Shropshire, England circa 1984. Something isn’t right here, though. The streets are littered with dead birds. Houses have been left open. Cars filled with hastily packed possessions sit empty on the roadways. And there are no people to be found, not even bodies. In the latest walking simulator from developer The Chinese Room (Dear Esther) it is up to you to explore the village and piece together with happened. Continue reading our Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture PS4 review for all of the details.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer: The Chinese Room
  • ESRB Rating: “M” for Mature
  • Genre: Walking Simulator
  • Pros: Fantastic premise; gorgeous graphics; amazing soundtrack
  • Cons: Slow movement speed; too long
  • MSRP: $20
As mentioned above, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture takes place in a quaint English valley in 1984. Something has happened to the people there, however, which you discover by exploring and piecing together the story through phone messages as well as brief glimpses into life before the event presented as glowing strands of light. You not only get information on what happened, but you also take a deep dive into the interconnected lives of the people living in the small community. There was drama in this village. Lots of it.

You don’t just get a huge dose of the drama in the seemingly sleepy village before the event, however, as you also get heart-wrenching descriptions of what happened during the event as well. The symptoms started with a headache, then turned into a bloody nose, and eventually people just up and disappeared into pure light. What caused it? Some new weapon? Aliens? Or some higher power?

The fascinating thing about Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is that nothing is ever made completely clear and it is up to you to come to your own conclusions. Even when you reach the end of the game, it still isn’t entirely clear what actually happened. A lot of the story important conversations you can overhear are out of order, too, so piecing everything together and connecting the dots is key to getting the most out of the game.

The way you actually play Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is pretty straightforward walking simulator fare. It isn’t clear who or what you’re actually playing as, but you move around in a first person perspective and just look at stuff and stumble upon audio logs and conversations. You can interact with phones, light switches, and doors. And that’s it. You just walk around and automatically trigger memory flashbacks presented as glowing balls and lines of light in order to hear the story of the people of the village. The main story important / progress important conversations aren’t triggered automatically, however, and instead make you tilt the PS4 controller to the right angle to tune into that message’s frequency. When you get “lost” a flying ball of light will show up to lead you around to the next story spot.

It takes anywhere from 4-5 hours to “finish” Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture – that is, you’ve seen all of the story important main conversations. You can miss some stuff, however, and there are actually quite a few hidden things scattered around connected to trophies that you can find if you’re thorough. It is a walking simulator through and through, so if you find them boring you obviously won’t like it.

Even as someone that loves walking simulators, I do have some complaints about Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Your movement speed is very, very, very, insanely slow even if you hold the right trigger for several seconds to activate a “run”. It’s slow and methodical and plodding. I also feel like it goes on for too long. There is no sense of progression or satisfaction as you’re just listening to conversations with no input whatsoever. By the second half of the game I was begging for it to just get it over with. It really could have used some editing to make it flow better.

I also have to say I wish the event actually had a more conclusive explanation and was more of the focus. I get it, the point of this game is the villagers and their story and not necessarily the details of the event, but it kind of gives you blue balls. I was far more interested in the science behind what was happening than the drama between a bunch of stuffy old Brits but the game never pays off in that way. It’s still a fantastic experience and worthwhile, but not quite on par with my favorite walking sims like ABZU or Firewatch.

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture more than delivers when it comes to the presentation, however, and looking at beautiful stuff is half of the appeal of a good walking sim. The little English village and surrounding countryside is absolutely beautiful, thanks to using Cryengine. Special effects for weather and light are also fantastically well done. The game sounds amazing, too, with believable voice acting and a spectacular orchestral and vocal choir soundtrack.

All in all, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is another solid narrative driven exploration game – walking simulator – that fans of the genre will really enjoy. I do feel it is a little too long and too dry in terms of both mechanics and story compared to the best the genre has to offer, but it is a worthwhile experience nonetheless. If you enjoy complex storytelling and beautiful scenery, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is well worth a look.