Author Topic: The vanishing of Ethan Carter [2014 -- The Astronauts]  (Read 921 times)

Offline Starfox

  • Master Keeper
  • Totally Awesome Member - Won A Cookie!
  • *****
  • Posts: 2618
  • Did anybody see my lenses?
    • The Foxhole
The vanishing of Ethan Carter [2014 -- The Astronauts]
« on: October 09, 2014, 10:45:23 AM »
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an adventure game which focuses mainly on exploration and investigation. For the occasion, the player's avatar is Paul Prospero, a paranormal investigator with a few tricks up his sleeves when it comes to assembling the pieces of a crime scene. Ethan Carter is a young boy who called Prospero because "something" awakened near his home in Red Creek Valley and he needed help to deal with it. Unfortunately Prospero arrives a bit too late in Red Creek Valley and must find Ethan to unveil the whole story.

The gameplay evolves around one main story which is split over several smaller stories, some of them being crime scenes, some others being just linked to Ethan and allowing you to better understand his background and the main story. Each story must be "assembled" before being seen. One does that by finding clues belonging to the story, putting them in their correct place. Once this is done, one can activate a trigger (generally a corpse but not always) to enter a special "state" and force a number of important "stills" of the story to appear. Then one must deduct which "still" of the story comes first, which second, etc. The process is not as cumbersome at it seems. One has to pay attention to details appearing in each scene to know the order. When the order is good, the whole story unveils and at the end of it a new clue appears so you can start to track down the next story. However, there are a number of stories that are not indicated and that one must find alone by exploring the rather sizable area of Red Creek Valley. In any case you'll need all the stories to finish the game.

For the sake of variety, a couple of stories are presented differently from the usual "find clues/position clues", including a "house of portals" that might make some players scratch their head real hard before getting it right or a chase across the woods or just simply listen to voices of people no longer there. And even if strictly speaking Prospero cannot die in the game, he may well encounter at one point some "elements" preventing his progress if approached the wrong way.

Except in one instance not far from the end where you'll have to solve a specific story before progressing further, the game lets you free to decide where you want to go, what you want to explore and what story you want to unveil. There are limits, sure, but those limits are there to prevent you from going out of the world. This might appear overwhelming to some players but in fact it's very unlikely that you'll find yourself utterly lost at some point. Clues are generally indicated by a floating text if you move close enough. So even if you feel lost, thoroughly exploring your surroundings should put you back on tracks.

Graphically speaking Red Creek Valley is a superb and adequate scenery to support your explorations, including a dark an oppressive mine. The character models however could be a tad better but that just nitpicking. The audio effects and music are right on the money for the most part, especially in the very important moments.

So why the happy blue smiley instead of the hyper happy green? Mostly because the game is very short. At first you'll spend between 8 and 10 hours on the first playthrough maybe even less depending on your ability to solve puzzles. And once one knows what must be done it's even shorter. My second playthrough to check details for this review lasted less than 2 hours and that was taking my time in some places. One could add that the replayability is about nil but that would just be unfair as this is quite typical with adventure games (with the exception of the Tex Murphy's series that offer several paths).

All in all I consider The Vanishing of Ethan Carter a quite enjoyable experience and I look forward to see more work from The Astronauts, maybe longer this time.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein