Published by Sony Computer Entertainment America; Sony is definitely not a newcomer to backing developers large and small alike. Makers of Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, The Chinese Room, a relatively small British developer, are known for their games Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs. A beautifully executed, cinematic story, Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture isn’t really a game, but more of an experience. Interactive drama wrapped in an engaging mystery.
The game takes place pre-Cold War, in 1984, Western England. Quaint indicators such as several Rubix Cubes and randomly placed cassette players and tapes add a nice touch. I especially enjoyed the old school boom boxes, being a child of the 1980s myself. If you weren’t the sole character in the game, you’d half expect some old school break dancers, spinning on their heads on cardboard dance floors.
Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture: Playstation 4
Developer: The Chinese Room
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: 11 August 2015
As the sole player in this post-apocalyptic world, you explore your surroundings aided by a guiding light, literally. I use the term post-apocalyptic loosely, seeing as the world your exploring is anything but. As a matter of fact, it’s downright gorgeous. There’s no ruin, no rubble, no crazy Fallout style mutants, just an abandoned town where everyone has simply disappeared.
Progressing via following the magical light, you slowly learn what has happened. The magical light shows what I can only describe as “after-images”, or echoes, of the inhabitants of the village. but I can’t say much more for fear of ruining the story. Radios, telephones, and dead birds (that’s right, I said dead birds) play an enormous part in the storytelling, yet don’t start making much sense until the end. Following the rave-like lights can be difficult should you ever ever off course–which I learned the hard way; wandering around for two hours trying to navigate my way back to the lights was frustrating.
The controls are fairly simply to master. Really you only ever use three buttons the entire time; the toggles and the X (or action button) which activates the radios telephones, and the occasional gate or door that needs opening. The magical lights, controlling the echoes, I keep referring to, are activated by swiveling the PlayStation controller to “attune” the after-images.
I can’t talk anymore about Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture without mentioning its absolutely breathtaking graphics and soundtrack. The story itself gets a bit stagnant in places, but the music, by Jessica Curry, is simply sublime. I initially wondered why Sony would offer a soundtrack to the game for purchase, however after my play through, I seriously considered paying the extra $5.00 USD just to own it. The journey you experience is musically amplified tenfold, nearly bringing you to tears in just the right places. The graphics, created using CryEngine, are absolutely mind blowing. Just when you feel you’ve seen everything the town has to show you, the game takes your breath away with visuals too beautiful for words. If I were only reviewing Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture based on the music and graphics alone, it would easily be a 10 out of 10.
Whether you consider Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture an adventure mystery or an elaborate walking simulator, this game is definitely an experience not to be missed.
Ultimately, I thoroughly enjoyed this game and have no serious complaints, except I wish it wasn’t so stagnant in certain places. I was so engrossed in the game, trying desperately to figure out whether I was the only person left that wasn’t “Raptured”, that I finished the game in one sitting. Start to finish, gameplay took me approximately 10 hours–though I must admit I got lost three times, trying to find the elusive rave-light. Although I can’t say this was one of my favorite games, I will say the M. Night Shyamalan ending was shocking; a bit underwhelming, yet wrapped up the story with room for each players own interpretation.
Is it art? Science-fiction? Or pure madness? Whatever it is, I leave it you to decide.