Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture was one of this month’s Playstation Plus games (ordinarily it would cost about $20USD) and it is absolute shit. But before I tear into this latest effort from Dear Esther developer, The Chinese Room, I will point out some of the positives.
One of the most noticeable things about this game are the graphics which, for the most part are impressive, with lush foliage and a beautiful rendition of an English village in the mid 1980s. The environment design is great and everything looks lived in, providing a fantastic sense of place, along with some good vocal performances and ambient sounds and melodic music. The production values are quite good and the map itself loops quite well and feels logically designed.
However, that is all the praise I can give. The reason being that there is no game here. It is just a walking simulator and a bad one at that. The movement speed is painfully slow, probably about as slow as when both your legs are crippled in Deus Ex. It really is quite a slog schlepping through the town, which on a blind playthrough serves to pad out game length. This speed slows even more when the game arbitrarily restricts your movement speed. You can hold R2 to move a bit faster, but the speed is still painfully slow. The frame rate is also totally inconsistent with it sometimes being smooth but often dropping dreadfully low to almost slideshow territory in some instances. Combined with a rather aggressive motion blur effect, the game made me feel almost queasy at times and I usually have a strong tolerance for this sort of thing and don’t get motion sick easy.
Furthermore, the game has basically no interactivity. Sometimes you can open doors or flick on a light switch, but any instance of interactivity is meaningless and the world remains almost totally static, indifferent to player action. There’s even an achievement for beating the game without interacting with anything.
So, what about the story? The story is told in a non linear fashion (in addition to it’s environmental storytelling) in certain key spots or through radios and telephones, which act like audio logs from Bioshock and any NPCs are just an abstract vaguely human shaped particle effects. The actual story involves a quarantined now derelict small english village who have mysteriously disappeared and this mystery is incredibly easy to figure out so the rest of it becomes a mind numbing time wasting exercise. But if I am to be charitable, much of the dialogue is about the characters, reminding me a little bit of Lars von Trier’s Melancholia but far less interesting or engaging. Of course you can miss out on pieces of the story and still complete the game, which is supposed to create replay value, but you probably won’t want to replay it considering how dull it is.
Ultimately, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a pretty looking and pretty sounding experience (mostly) but there is absolutely nothing of substance and is a mind numbing exercise in tedium. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing it but if you feel like you want to experience the story, I’d advise you to watch it on youtube alternating between 1.25x speed (for talking bits) and 1.5x speed for everything else.