The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Review
After I finished The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, I had to take a step back and really think about everything that had happened.
You play as Paul Prospero, a detective that is working his last case. Right before you start your journey, you are prompted with the message, “This game is a narrative experience and does not hold your hand.” I think giving the gamer this message prevents a lot of frustration, as at times you will find yourself wandering around with no idea of what to do next.
As you start to make your way around the starting area, it’s almost impossible not to be instantly amazed with the scenery. This made me want to explore and really see every trail and every little hidden path. Pair this with the sounds of running water, wind, and the subtle, yet creepy music and you have a wonderfully engaging experience.
Paul Prospero, being the outstanding detective that he is, shows off his abilities as you solve puzzles. When he sees something (or someone) on the ground, a bunch of floating text questions will appear that act like running thoughts to give you insight to what is happening. Once you put together all the clues in the area, you will see memory fragments that fly to different locations. Then, you have to put these memory fragments in chronological order to wrap up the puzzle to see what had occurred. Early in the game this can be difficult, but once you get to the end you have a pretty good idea of what is required to complete the game’s task.
Making your way through the world, you will start to slowly see that things are strange. There are many supernatural references that are introduced gradually, but eventually they come together to shape a very bizarre world. As weird as the world is, you never feel like it’s too much or that you are overwhelmed.
Now for the bad part. Once the game was done, I can say that I had a lot of fun, but there were some technical issues that made the game slightly frustrating.
With a game that is so heavy on exploring, I decided to trek around and just see what the world was like. I started to notice that some of the textures on the floor were very dark and that there was a large field that lacked rocks, trees, and any other plant life. At one point, I saw that a huge boulder had missing textures and I could see straight through it. This didn’t bother me at first, because I figured that I just needed to restart the game. Unfortunately, this didn’t fix the issues. I started to ignore this, because they weren’t really hurting my progress, but unfortunately that changed.
At one point in the game, you have to cross a very long bridge...this would have been nice, but the bridge was invisible. Luckily, the game had been out for awhile on PC so I was able to look up a walkthrough of what to do. Once I found the entrance to the unintentionally invisible bridge I was able to walk across. It was both funny and unsettling to have my character floating about 100 feet above a waterfall. I got across to the other side no problem, but the graphic issues didn’t stop there.
There was a house I was supposed to enter that had the next puzzle. The house is supposed to be abandoned with a fully textured outside, but the house that was in front of me looked like it had been burned down and had pieces floating in the air. Once again I restarted the game, but this didn’t solve the problem. Unfortunately, I had to use a walkthrough a few times because of this and it was frustrating that I was brought out of a game that I was really enjoying.
After I passed the puzzle, the game performed flawlessly for the rest of the story. One of the nice things is once you complete the game, you are able to fast travel to any of the puzzles that you may have missed. This is completely possible considering the game is so open and doesn’t require you to complete everything to get to the end.
I should also mention that I have watched videos of people playing on The Vanishing of Ethan Carter on the Playstation 4 and there doesn’t seem to be any issues. I hope what I encountered were isolated incidents or at least extremely rare occurrences, because I think the developers did a wonderful job developing a truly remarkable story.
Despite the issues I had with the game, I do think it is worth your time. This is even more true if you have enjoyed games that are heavy on story, such as Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and Murdered: Soul Suspect.
3.5 out of 5
Thanks to The Astronauts for supplying a code for review.
A side note that has no bearing on my overall feeling on the game is that it is really easy to get 100% of the trophies.