Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture – Review


everybodys gone to the rapture logo
 

everybodys gone to rapture box art Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
 
Developer: The Chinese Room
Publisher: Sony Santa Monica
Platforms: PS4
Released: 8/11/15
Verdict: Where is everybody?
Score: 8/10

 
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a serene walk through the countryside of Shropshire after the rapture. The player explores the village and it’s surrounding areas at their leisure peaking into brief moments of the towns folks lives during the events leading up to the rapture. The game offers insight into the cause of the rapture, while never fully explaining it, leaving a certain air of mystery hanging over the experience. The presentation is exceptional and the plot development is delivered in a truly unique method. While light on interaction, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is heavy in drama and mystery, and a wonderful game for fans of either.
 
As you wander the empty streets of Yaughton, you’ll encounter different “scenes” that help build the backstory leading up to the rapture. Each of the 6 sections of the town follow 1 major character, named at the start of the area, and a couple side stories as well. It’s all presented in an open ended nature. You choose to initiate the story by interacting with objects like phones, radios, and glowing balls of light. The latter are the main event stories needed to view the ending, or rapture, for that area’s main character. Some other story events play out just by walking within a certain proximity of a scene. It is all wonderful to view, but also entirely optional. You could very well skip the nearby ringing phone and walk straight to the ending if you chose.
 
everybodys gone to the rapture bike
 
The majority of the story events are played out with glowing light filled humanoid objects. These characters, so to say, move as if they’re missing frames, and pulse as they speak. Every glowing person looks the same as the last, so it’s not possible to tell them apart unless you can tell which is glowing when they speak. Since the models lack details, and the only other method of story delivery is through audio devices like phones and radios, the actors have to deliver an absurd amount of emotion. Needless to say, they nailed it! None of the voice acting is subpar, by any means.
 
It’s these actors that drive the whole of the experience. The story plays out in short scenes designed to deliver small tidbits of backstory about the characters, or the town. Some story events take place years before the rapture, while others take place at that exact moment, or the hours leading up to it. There are also multiple stories being played out in the game – from the interactions between Father Jeremy and members of his parish, to a drama filled love triangle, and even following the cause of the rapture itself. Every plot interweaves with the others in some way, showing how events from one character can affect another. None of the story is delivered in chronological order. One scene could take place years before the next, or minutes after. It sort of reminds me of Lost, and piecing together the backstories of all the characters to find out how it led to the final moments in their arcs.
 
everybodys gone to the rapture light
 
The incredible delivery of the story, in both acting and method, are the driving force of the game. The world is beautiful, and the story interesting, so it’s easy to get immersed in the experience. However, the world is largely lifeless. Not in the sense that no one is there, that’s the name of the game. Rather, it’s the lack of interactivity with the world you’re exploring that leads to the lifeless feeling. You can open some doors and some gates, many of which are locked. You can turn on TVs, and “answer” phones. You can turn on radios, and CB radios. Oh, and there are 5 – 6 microwaves to make ding, but that’s about it. Beyond those 7 objects there is literally nothing to interact with. You are relegated to the status of a bystander in a world with nobody left in it. You can’t check in cars, pick up newspapers, pour yourself a pint, or anything. There are no collectibles, no puzzles to solve, and no hidden keys to open secret doors. The world is open and vast, but beyond the story – which should only take 5-6 hours – there’s nothing left to do. No reason to come back.
 
While the experience is fairly short, completable in one to two sittings, I found myself getting frustrated by the save system implemented in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. It took me 3 sittings to get through the game. On the first night I only played for an hour and a half. Just enough time to explore a couple houses, a tavern, and a few other minor locations. I stopped moving feet outside the first tavern you come by. It’s literally minutes into the game, but I had experienced over an hour of story and exploration. I had gained a significant insight into the direction the game was taking and decided to stop to go to bed. In the options menu I found only Settings, Continue, and New Game. No quit. No force save. I had remembered seeing a saving swirl spin every now and again, but not sure when I saw the last one. So, I decided to close the application and just pick up where it left off the next day. Unfortunately, I practically had to start the game over again. It was as if I hadn’t accomplished anything. I started right next to a ringing phone booth, which is feet from the tavern I spoke of, but indicated that the save file didn’t record that I had witnessed this story event yet. I proceeded to check the other areas I had visited already and, needless to say, they played out as if it were my first time again as well.
 
everybodys gone to the rapture bench
 
I tested this again the following night after having viewed 3 story endings. I proceeded a small way into the next area, fully knowing I wanted to stop soon. After witnessing 2 more story events, I quit. The next day I loaded up right after the most recent main story had ended. This wouldn’t have been so bad if each story didn’t end with a 5 minute slow walk in the stars. It’s cool to see the first time, but after that it’s just slow and kind of dull, especially after it’s been viewed already. The frustration was lessened because that third night I finished the game. However, that doesn’t mean that a save system this inadequate should go without mention. A simple “Save and Quit” option would do wonders for this (and every other) game.
 
The only other minor complaint I have about Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is more of an issue I have with games as a whole. If you listen to the 5/20/15 Podquest you’ll hear us discuss the age old technique of creating realistic foliage while saving resources. This is done by combining two flat models, almost images, of a plant in sort of a cross section or “+” pattern. From most sides you see a full plant, but at very specific angles the plant, or other object, practially disappear. This is a neat trick developers have been using for years to save resource power for the actual game and cut down on artist’s workload. The downside – it can, and often does, look cheesy. The benefit of these next generation consoles is a load of added power to fully render plants properly. Take at look at the 2014 Uncharted 4 gameplay demo and you can see how good plants can look in games. Then look at games like Bloodborne to see how distracting it can be when done the old way. Luckily, in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, the plants are only distracting when you give them an extreme close-up. The developers used the added resources to throw in more cross sections into the plants to create a more realistic looking plant at many other angles. It looks good at a distance, but a game this beautiful deserves to look good all the time.
 
everybodys gone to the rapture pool
 
Despite my nit-picking, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture really captured my interest. From the moment I first laid eyes on it’s trailer, to the ending credits, I was entranced. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture weaves an incredible tale utilizing one of the most unique storytelling techniques I have ever witnessed. It truly is an outstanding experience, and one that I feel everyone should check out.
 
everybodys gone to the rapture tower
 

is not a boss.

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