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!
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.
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: 4/10Positives
: Gorgeous visuals, interesting plot, varied and tight scriptNegatives
: 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