I played Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture on PS4. I ran into a few technical issues. The game soft crashed once, and some lighting effects made the game look ugly, particularly moving shadows across the ground when time speeds up. Generally though, the game ran perfectly and is a technical powerhouse.
‘Walking simulator’ is a rather derogatory term that has come to light in recent times to describe ‘narrative’ driven games where one is fuelled by their own curiosity. Players are dropped into a location and given a limited tool set to discover the story around you. A good example of this is one The Vanishing of Ethan Carter which I gave 2/10. To say that I didn’t enjoy it is a bit of an understatement.
It may be odd then that Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture was one of my more anticipated games of 2015. Everything I heard about it sounded like my kind of game. A scientist is alone in a small rural English village after a Rapture-type event makes everyone else disappear. That sounds awesome. And everything I saw about it looked great.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to be anything but disappointed. Looking back, the gameplay wasn’t really the focus of many of the pre-release material. And that’s because the ‘gameplay’ is pretty much non-existent. You walk around the village. That’s it. You follow a little ball of light to uncover remnants of things that happened to other villagers.
So I have a few problems with this straight away. What the hell are these ‘remnants’? What narrative reason do they have be in the world? Also, are these things memories or residual events? They can’t be memories because Kate watches remnants with her in them. Also, why the hell is Kate walking around anyway? She knows she is the last person in the village, maybe the world, so she’s not looking for people. Surely she would be more likely to spend her time checking other villages, towns or cities? You’re playing as Kate who is pretty much the most important person in the story, but you’re also playing as yourself, a clueless outsider. That’s a problem.
It also doesn’t help that you experience this narrative at a snail’s pace. The movement speed in Rapture is painfully slow. Kate shuffles along like an old lady. And when she tries to run (hold down R2 and she picks up speed gradually) she just plain doesn’t. It’s barely faster than walking. It’s something that feels incredibly restricted, when you can’t even keep up with your little ball of light friend. And unfortunately, it smacks of feeling like the developer realised that if you could run, you could zip through the story too quickly. However, it was probably just a rather big oversight. Hopefully, it’s something that can be fixed in a patch.
The village of Yaughton is quite big and without any direction, you can easily get lost trying to find the next chunk of story. The little ball of light that zips around the village is there to guide you in the general direction of the story. This little shit is infuriating to say the least. It staggers around like a three legged dog, leading you down one road and then inexplicably turning around and heading off into the other direction. It feels like it has less idea where it’s going than you do. And about three or four times, it just disappeared for me, leaving me in a massive environment having no idea where to go. That coupled with the movement speed means you can get lost for, potentially, hours.
Despite everything, I did enjoy my time with Rapture. The village of Yaughton is beautiful, and I couldn’t help but want to explore every nook and cranny of this amazing world. From the pub, where the special is local fish and chips, to the community centre where a production of Peter Pan is well underway, the detail is fascinating.
The writing in Rapture is also a strong point. The characters feel real, even if they are just silhouettes of light in the game world. I was genuinely interested in the story, and was pleasantly surprised when there was a clear beginning, middle and end. The whole story doesn’t really culminate in much, but it’s nice to have something more definite than other games in this genre.
After the credits rolled though, I felt exactly the same way as Ethan Carter. Although Rapture is better, I can’t help but think it would have been more enjoyable if it were more of a video game. What if we were cast as Kate as people were disappearing and we had to try and stop the Rapture, ultimately finding out that we couldn’t. There is an incredible disconnect with things that are happening, and although I was interested in it, I felt like I was staring at a museum exhibit rather than playing a video game.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a beautiful experience that suffers from a few glaring errors. It’s impossible to shake the feeling that you are just walking through a museum piece and not playing a video game.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture gets 6/10.