Last night I finished Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into this experience and in case you’re in the same boat I wanted to describe what it is. This isn’t a review or anything, it’s an explanation.
So here goes. Start with a well-produced radio drama performed by top notch voice actors. Now slice it up so that each scene is in a separate audio file. Now delete a random 1/3 of these files. Take the remaining files and scatter them around a well rendered 3D model of a small English village. Add an amazing soundtrack, and finally set the player free to roam around this village finding these snippets and let them piece together the story for themselves.
And that’s pretty much Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. There’re no puzzles and there is certainly no combat. It’s all about exploring a village completely devoid of human life and uncovering bits of the story. You’ll get these by finding radios, telephones, and light-based vignettes like this one:
I started off really enjoying this game. (Is it even a game? That’s a discussion for another time.) Then I got a little bit bored/frustrated. There’s no in-game map or compass and I guess I have a poor sense of direction because I kept winding up back at the same place, finding no new story elements. There are in-world maps like you’d find in a nature park or trail system, complete with You Are Here indicators and those do help, but wandering around an empty village could only hold by attention for so long.
The only thing moving in this world are insects and a wisp-thing. Or a ball of light. Or something. You decide when you play what this is. I have my own opinions. Anyway eventually I realized that this ball of light would actually guide me to new locations and once I figured that out my enjoyment of the game came back.
So you wander through this world following, in retrospect, a general path and as you do you encounter the shadows of several people. The story being told is 1 part science fiction dealing with what happened to everyone, and one part soap opera. And you just experience it. You can activate radios and phones, open doors and ‘open’ the vignettes and (aside from moving and looking) that’s all the interactivity here.
The biggest gripe I (and seemingly everyone else) had is the movement speed. You walk pretty slowly. If you hold R2 you can ‘run’ slightly less slowly. I think the slow movement was a design decision based on giving you time to ruminate on what you just saw but still there are times when it gets pretty frustrating. You need to embrace your quiet, contemplative self and just try to go with it.
So should you get Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture? That depends on if you enjoy radio dramas and exploring. If you do this game will be right up your alley. I’m glad I played it though it’s pretty short for a $20 game. (Six hours maybe? If you’re really into exploring you can probably stretch that some.) If money is tight I might suggest waiting for a sale.
Also, and this is a vague spoiler, but if you like your stories to end nice and neatly with all questions answered and all plot lines resolved, be warned that Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture does not tell that kind of story. There’re a lot of questions that you’ll have to come up with your own answers to based on interpreting what you’ve seen. I loved that aspect but I know some folks prefer a nicely wrapped up tale.