Believe it or not I’m one of those people who never played the original game when it was released on PC and PS4 all those years ago. I am, however, a massive fan of what people like to call a ‘walking simulator’, where you simply just wander around inspecting objects with very little to do. The original release of this game was praised to the point where it won a BAFTA Award for innovation. The game then went somewhat unnoticed for a few years until The Astronauts announced a release for Xbox One and Xbox One X, which as you can probably guess has been enhanced for the use of 4K.
Something about this game has always piqued my interest, but I’ve never got around to playing it which is strange as I jumped at the chance to play the likes of Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture and Reaching For Petals. If you don’t know what those two games are and like the style of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter then I would highly recommend playing them.
Straight from the off you can see the amount of work that has gone into creating this beautiful game. Everything looks and sounds brilliant from the soundtrack right down to small blades of grass beneath your feet. There are times where you can tell the developers have purposely wanted you to take a look at the scenery as they will carefully direct you to a cliff point in search for clues. At these points, you can see the time and effort that has went into creating the environment.
Players take on the role of a detective named Paul Prospero who is in Red Creek Valley to find out what has actually happened to a young boy named Ethan Carter who has been writing to him. But not is all as it seems in Red Creek Valley as from the moment you take your first few steps onto the train track you’re greeted with a pair of dismembered legs with blood trailing away from them. I can assure you now that this body is one of many you will find throughout the game. The job of the player is basic: act like a detective, piece the crimes together and eventually find young Ethan Carter. This doesn’t seem all that difficult when written down but I can tell you now it’s not as easy as it sounds. There were two of us at GReviews playing the game and we like to think we’re pretty smart guys at times but even this had us stumped on what to do.
The game doesn’t hold your hand and just lets you get on with it and figure it out for yourself. This is sometimes a good thing but when your half way through the game (and a crate of Fosters) then suddenly figure out what your meant to be doing, it’s a pain having to trek all the way to the start and sort things out. So it turns out you have to search for clues around the murder area and once all clues have been collected or ‘fixed’ the game will then call on you to use your detective sense to piece the crime together. This is done by moving around what seems to be ghostly projections that appear and ordering them in the correct way to replay the events that took place. Imagine inspecting a crime scene in the Arkham series, it’s very much like that. Who would have thought it? Playing as a detective and you actually have to look for clues! Well we didn’t fully figure it out until at least half way through.
The story I cant really say too much on as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t played the game but I can say that it constantly keeps you guessing and has a sort of paranormal feel to it. Oh and there are also an astronaut and a witch involved in it somewhere along the way which if you find early on will confuse the life out of you. At one point there is a jump scare, either that or I’m just a wimp when it comes to creepy stuff. In case you’re wondering what the scare/scream was like, then don’t worry we have a video of our playthrough ready for our YouTube channel which will be going up shortly.
The developers also decided to include a ‘Free Roam’ mode which does exactly what it says on the tin. It allows players to wonder around Red Creek Valley without all the crimes and dead bodies scattered about the place and just simply take in the environment. I can imagine this will look even better on the Xbox One X at a higher resolution, but playing on an Xbox One I cant argue that it looks amazing. The game took around about 3-4 hours to complete and this was mainly because at times we didn’t have a bloody clue what we were doing.