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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (PS4) Review

 
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At a Glance...
 

Formats: PS4
 
Genre:
 
Year:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
8.0
8/ 10


User Rating
1 total rating

 

We Liked?


Beautiful environments and freedom to let the story unfold at your own pace.

Not So Much?


Little in the way of replay value.


Final Fiendish Findings?

Indie studio The Astronauts offers a haunting tale of murder and betrayal in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. As you begin The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, you are told that this is a game that won’t hold your hand – and they aren’t kidding around. That one phrase is the entirety of any tutorial or […]

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Posted August 18, 2015 by

 
Final Fiendish Findings?
 
 

Indie studio The Astronauts offers a haunting tale of murder and betrayal in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.

As you begin The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, you are told that this is a game that won’t hold your hand – and they aren’t kidding around. That one phrase is the entirety of any tutorial or instruction that you’ll get with this game. You’re meant to figure everything out on your own, and that isn’t an easy task. However, once you get an idea of where the game is going and how it works, you’ll find a satisfying horror mystery that will keep you guessing until the not necessarily happy ending.

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The mechanics of the game are very simple (once you figure them out, anyway). You play as Paul Prospero, who’s kind of cross between a psychic and a detective. Ethan Carter was one of Prospero’s biggest fans, and it was one of his letters that brought you here to Red Creek Valley. You find a town completely abandoned, devoid of any of its residents (well, the living ones anyway). To uncover the mystery of what happened to the town and to Ethan, you’ll need to use both of your senses to uncover the clue.

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The game basically plays like an open world game, and although Red Creek Valley isn’t endless it certainly does possess a lot of wilderness to wander around in. As you explore the town and its surrounding areas, you’ll come across various clues and more than a few dead bodies. If you stumble across a clue, you’ll press down the “x” button to use your paranormal senses on it. For each murder, there will be a number of clues scattered around as well as a body. Once you’ve found all of the pieces, you can sense what happened to the victim.

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Sensing the murder will lead you to the next type of puzzle in the game, which involves putting the scenes leading up to the murder in chronological order. Once you’ve think you have them ordered correctly, you can visualize the scene and see if you got it right. If not, you’ll have to keep putting them in order until you get it right. There isn’t any type of hint system in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, so if you get stuck at any point, whether it’s wandering around in the forest trying to figure out what comes next, or trying to track down one last clue to a grisly murder scene, you’re kind of just stuck wandering around until inspiration (or a hidden clue) strikes you. This can be frustrating at times, but it adds a little time to a game that is otherwise on the short side.

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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an interesting game to those used to action filled shooters or quest heavy rpg’s. It’s such a different mindset, with virtually no characters to interact with (unless you count the crazed zombie miner) and no real path to follow. You find the town, the clues, and the solution just as Paul Prospero would – by wandering around and seeing what pops out at you. Though even a little idea of how the game works at the beginning would have been nice, trying to figure where you’re going and what you are supposed to do does add to the challenge. And when you do figure out a particularly tricky puzzle and are rewarded with the next piece of Ethan’s story, it makes it that much sweeter that you had to get there the hard way.


Amy

 
U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)