Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is from indie developer The Chinese Room and is definitely in the vein games much like journey, in that it is an experience. The game is led by a strong sense of curiosity through a fairly relaxed pace and strong emotional narrative.
After its single long loading screen, you are dropped at the peak of a hill, near the entrance-way to an observatory, overlooking the fictional village of Yaughton, in the non-fictional county of Shropshire. It is immediately apparent that this game (developed using CryEngine) is amazingly beautiful and very detailed. Very quickly you establish that everyone has disappeared and you start off on your journey.
As you venture through the village you’ll encounter different travelling orbs that split the locations into its chapters, which heavily revolve around a specific character. These orbs act as a guide to key information on their interactions with the each other in the days leading to the apparent rapture. It is here when your goal shifts somewhat from discovering where these people went, to learning more of the deep and epic stories that revolve around the modestly sized array of characters. With the story often focusing on a character at a time the entire narrative happens out of sync. As you travel from place to place, the time will dynamically jump back and forth, from misty sunrises to luminescent sunsets.
You are left to discover and perceive the information you find from the story yourself. This encourages you to explore the areas more deeply to gather every bit you can. You’ll wonder through parks and public walk paths, through residential housing and good old fashioned pubs. The village is amazingly accurate to real life. Information can be found by just stumbling across conversations, ringing phones and radios. You’ll also find critical interactions that emit light and affect the environment with small blurs and flakes of light.
Interactions happen in the form of light flurries where you can’t make out the detail of characters involved, leaving their emotional and physical movements open to interpretation. This creates a greater sense of connection as you create the characters in your mind. However with a lack of visual stimulus, I would personally suggest playing with the subtitles on so that you can better follow the story, since the subtitles include the names of all the characters. That’s not to say the characters voices blur together however, the entire game features fantastic deep voice acting from the entire cast. You have time to process all of the story as the game has very gently paced controls, in that movement is a leisurely stroll at best, even with the elusive “sprint” movement is very slow. There’s no jump button or complex movement involved, just basic interaction and facing where you want to go. This does give you time to truly take in all the detail of the world and process the story whilst listening to its beautiful soundtrack. I noticed on my stroll, an unfinished painting, which upon close inspection, interacted with the light where the brush strokes where, showcasing incredible thought has gone into the design. This comes at a slight cost however as I had some minor frame rate issues on my travels. This was of little consequence as the entire game is finished to an incredible polish, and is one of the best looking games out today.
All in all the game is about 5 hours long to complete, and there is replayability in the fact that you’ll surely miss some key bits of information on the way. While this game won’t be appealing to some people with its lack of action and slow pace, it tells its amazingly epic story in a very intimate environment in a way only a game can deliver. The fact the game was designed by an independent developer that consists of just 15 people is mind blowing. The most unfortunate thing about this is that the game, which was originally intended for PC, has been locked to be a PS4 exclusive through a partnership with Sony, as the developers had worries about financial troubles for its development, meaning PC gamers along with Xbox players will have to miss out. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a beautiful journey with remarkably developed story that would be a shame to overlook.