Everybody's Gone to the Rapture Reviews

  • CJ64BitCJ64Bit201,787
    03 Jun 2016 03 Jun 2016
    12 2 9
    My (not so) Lovely Review of: Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

    Hi all, welcome to my reviews. These tend to be free form thoughts about particular titles that go over various elements of a given game. Though you may not agree with the thoughts below, please realize that this is my opinion and everyone is different in what their tastes and interests are. I would love to hear any thoughts, arguments, or opinions you have on the title at hand so please post them below or tweet at me @64BitCJ, and if you like my work follow me over at Gamemoir.com where I write articles weekly. I love you all and enjoy the review!

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    In honest, I was incredibly excited for The Chinese Room’s Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. The concept alone hooked and refused to let go; there was something so alluring about this game’s concept that made me cling to it all the way up to release. Having been a fan of similar themed titles like Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Gone Home, and so on, in the past, this seemed right up my ally. I was confident this would be so finely tuned to me, but yet, here I sit utterly disappointed months later.

    I stand by my previous statement of calling the concept ‘interesting’ because it genuinely is. The mystery that looms throughout the entire game is interesting and enigmatic even up until the final moments. In fact, the narrative as a whole is solid, telling an emotional story that winds up being rather effective. The continuous swapping of characters creates an impressive sense of scope and impact as we see how this entire town is affected by this unknown epidemic. As you start to know many of the townsfolk, you become invested in their individual stories. What they do, where they go, and who they talk to. Mixing between dire, heartfelt, and comedic on the fly is rather impressive and a true testament to the script writing at play. But with all that said, I honestly did not need to play this game in the slightest to receive any bit of the narrative.

    The thing is, EBGR (Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture) could easily be a radio drama and it wouldn’t lose an ounce of story in the transition. Player agency in the world is astoundingly nonexistent. In every sense, this is a ‘walking simulator’ and while I hate that term, there is no other mechanics at play aside from prodding along. Story beats are triggered by walking to their set positions, with nothing to fill in the space in between them. The player is told a story instead of experiencing it for themselves. Your hand may not held, but you gain nothing by straying from the path.

    Let’s take Gone Home for example. What the player takes from that game depends entirely on what they discover during their playthrough. There still remain those vital narrative beats that give you the overlying story, but character details and little side stories are left entirely up to you to find. Whether it be your father’s secret stash of rum, or your sister’s cheat sheet list for Street Fighter 2, you are actively gaining insight to these characters and this world as you learn these things. Play agency is established through your curiosity. You are rewarded for exploring, and though the main story moments are almost necessary to progress the first time through, you are given more context if you poke around. The story can be completed without doing so, still leaving you with a finished narrative, but you gain more if so.

    Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture has nothing. There is no gain for exploring every, if any, nook and cranny. No environmental storytelling. No loose notes. No telling objects. This game’s narrative remains solely in the conversations you trigger. Even the character’s own houses are void of personality, being mostly produced of the same assets all throughout.

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    This begs the question; why create as big of a world if there is nothing in it? Though stunningly beautiful, why have the player be able to walk down so many dead ends if there is no reason to do so? This cannot be a world building thing because there is nothing established by so many of these locations. The homes are interchangeable. The stores are likely closed off. The offices are void of anything of substance, just like everything else. There is ONE room that contains a model train set, letting us know the owner liked trains, but that is the only sort of environmental character development we get.

    Though the map may not be as large but Ether One sports a decent sized village that just spews personality in every corner it contains. The homes feel unique to their owners, while the pubs feel loved and worn in. Details about these areas can be learned through observations, while notes and diaries give more context. Ether One gives reason to explore the vast majority of its map. While not crucial to the overall story, it does improve the narrative the player receives, and the game trusts the player will be interested enough to want to flesh out loose ends.

    The exact opposite is true for EBGR. It feels as if the developers didn’t trust the player to get the whole of the story they wanted to tell so they only set them in large chunks throughout the world. There is nothing to learn outside those bits because there was fear it would be missed. Give players reason to explore and they will. Sadly enough the story is interesting enough to warrant exploration but it doesn’t take long to see that there is no reason to do so.
    As far as story beats go, the game delivers some truly emotional and stunning moments. On the latter side of things, there was a genuine moment of awe early on at the end of the first segment. You walk down a path lit only by, what are either string lights or fireflies and it is one of the single most beautiful moments in a game I have ever seen. That said, the game then repeats that moment about three more times, tainting the original moment that was a really nice surprise by overdoing it.

    If you are looking for a different spin on the disease/illness epidemic type scenario, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture has one of the more interesting takes I’ve seen in a very long time. The problem is, you are far better off listening to it comprised somewhere else because the majority of your experience will be a slow romp (even with the ‘run’ button that is more like a brisk walk) through a quite England town with nothing to see. It may be gorgeous, and as pleasant as all hell, but that doesn’t provide enough to entertain the player between the moments of story. Once you learn the dark secret of just how truly desolate the town is of personality, you quickly lose all interest in doing anything but finding the next story trigger. It’s a shame too, this could have been quite the immersive experience if given the same treatment as any other game in this sort of genre, and yet, all we are left with is a gripping story without much to drive you through it.

    Condensed points: Beautiful visuals and an interesting story don't save Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture’s pointlessly empty map and needlessly long dead air. Great moments are spoiled by the need to overdo them, and the emotional impactful scenes are tainted by the wait to get more.

    Final Score: 4/10

    Positives: Gorgeous visuals, interesting plot, varied and tight script

    Negatives: Super slow walk speed, lifeless world (not a pun), too many dead ends, great scenes repeated and then ruined, story beats take too long inbetween
    Showing all 9 comments.
    Prem-aka-PrinceHiya, first of all thanks for writing such a detailed review. I just finished reading it and I noticed a few small typos so I began to write them down to try and help you so future readers can read a slightly tweaked version. Don't take it personally, I'm not trying to de-construct your arguments by nit-picking, I have two volunteer positions on TT and both of them involve a lot of proof reading. I will write a detailed response next but it may take me some time.

    para 2 ally -> alley
    para 4 there is no other mechanics at play aside from prodding along -> are no other mechanics... plodding along
    para 4 with nothing to fill in the space in between them -> space between them
    appears to be missing a second line break in the middle of paragraph 9
    para 10/11 a quite England town with nothing to see -> quiet English
    conclusion the emotional impactful scenes -> emotionally
    Posted by Prem-aka-Prince on 03 Jun 16 at 12:27
    Prem-aka-PrinceOk, now my proper reponse. I will open by showing my hand: I strongly disagree with you. However (again in the spirit of being open) I cannot in good faith downvote your review because although I disagree with it you have put a lot of effort into it and that deserves to be encouraged.
    The vast majority of your review seems to talk about one core conclusion which seems to have shaped your whole opinion, and spans paragraphs 4 through to end with the exception of 8 where you talk about Ether One. However, this core conclusion I disagree with. I think it is best summed up in the line: "Your hand may not held, but you gain nothing by straying from the path."

    I can see that at time of writing the only trophy you have is for seeing the ending. No I will not now dismiss your opinion on the assumption you didn't bother to play it, however that does go as evidence that you played it once without completing it and without speedrunning it, somewhere in the middle in fact. For all I know you could have missed the most trivial scene in the game but seen every other one, but nonetheless I put to you that if you would give the game the chance of just one more trophy, I would strongly recommend it be the Completionist trophy. This is not like a platinum trophy where you have to do everything, it's just a trophy for experiencing the whole story in one playthrough, and it is a sure fire way to see everything is has to offer. I can say from experience that in my opinion it is better done on a second playthrough because then you can put the understanding you later develop on characters into better digesting their earlier story segments, and this way you can truly see the character arcs for all of them.

    In contrast, there is a trophy called Open Ended, awarded for reaching Stephen's bunker without completing any other story arc. While it is most efficient to combine this trophy with others (e.g. Backtracker or Radio Enthusiast), if you did a dedicated run for this trophy you would see the most salient point: almost everything in Rapture is off the path.
    Jeremy, Wendy, Frank, Lizzie, Stephen & Kate... With five major arcs, four of them are optional. How can your earlier position be compatible with this realisation?

    You make a very good comparison with Ether One, which I also enjoyed and recommend to everyone when this much more well known game is mentioned. Ether One did an excellent job with having myriad collectibles and trinkets, however it did not do anywhere near as good a job with its main story. The true contrast with Rapture is that Rapture did such a good job with its side stories that they are main story quality. This is a difference in treatment that has proven to be very effective. I disagree with you that there isn't attention to small details in Rapture, I can't begin to describe my astonishment to see real-world English countryside features which after all my thousands of hours gaming I had never seen digitised before. For most people it's the iconic red phone boxes or the post boxes, maybe the pubs. For me it was the picture-perfect road signs, the familiar bus stops and picnic tables, the 'I've been in a house like this' homes, or the familiar accents as opposed to most games where brits are only villains (and usually men). And that's even before anything of how engaging the drama was, and how beautiful the scenery...

    That's another thing. I don't recall many dead ends, as I remember many scenes popping up in out of the way places such as the one with Stephen on the bike. However one thing I do know... why complain about the size of the place? Would you rather they were terraced houses so you can step out of one and into the other? Come on, it's English countryside. As in life: you have to wander a bit to appreciate it.

    p.s. After I first read that you thought seeing the firefly scene more than once somehow made it worse I was surprised but wasn't going to mention it. But then you mentioned it three times and it somehow made it worse.
    Posted by Prem-aka-Prince on 03 Jun 16 at 13:09
    FiveWizzTo be honest I sympathise with a lot of what the reviewer has said here and couldn't agree more even though I managed about 60% of the trophies.

    However, this is somewhat tainted by the fact that the walking speed COMPLETELY spoiled the experience for me. I have argued it to death in various instances but I just could not get along with that walking speed especially for my subsequent playthroughs.

    I was VERY pumped for this game it was seriously one of the sole reasons for my ps4 purchase even though I have an Xbox One (my main console) but I was just so overwhelmingly disappointed. I was crushing my controller with my hand trying to walk faster it was driving me insane and yep I knew about the "walk faster" button. It frustrated me that the world was so large when I was restricted to walking through glue. And consequently exploring was a punishment and fruitless to boot! 3/10 from me. Buuuuut it's just opinions :)

    Fantastic script though and it looked beautiful. very lovely.
    Posted by FiveWizz on 07 Jun 16 at 09:36
    Paully005Nice review, not sure I'd be up for this game though.
    Posted by Paully005 on 15 Jul 16 at 13:47
    kach69You are right, the most awful thing in these game is "Super slow walk speed".
    Posted by kach69 on 24 Sep 16 at 17:50
    Vi-For-VendettaRapture will actually happen before you have fun...lol @ walking speed woes.
    Posted by Vi-For-Vendetta on 09 Nov 16 at 20:57
    Vi-For-VendettaRapture will actually happen before you have fun...lol @ walking speed woes.
    Posted by Vi-For-Vendetta on 09 Nov 16 at 21:02
    darkrealmslordI'm sorry Prem-AKA-Prince but the reviewer is right! this could have been a great game but for the glaring fact that it's boring as hell! you walk so slow the snails overtake you and as for the walk faster button it does absolutely nowt. It simply isn't possible to speedrun a game when you walk at a pace that's slower than one of the cars in game would rust at and that has really lowered how good this game should have been. It really would lose nothing as a radio drama
    Posted by darkrealmslord on 13 May 20 at 21:58
    Prem-aka-PrinceI recall that the walk faster button does nothing at a press, but accelerates to a better pace if you hold it down while moving. You can verify independently as it's described in the Tips section of PSNP's guide for the game.

    But to each their own! Hope you have a better experience if you decide to give it another go with this new information, or otherwise hope you enjoy your next game more. Cheers
    Posted by Prem-aka-Prince on 14 May 20 at 00:55