The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
This past weekend, there was a Flash Sale on the Playstation Store, so I grabbed a few games – most notably, “The Vanishing of Ethan Carter” for $8.00. I thought it would be a cool little story with puzzle akin to a TellTale Studios game.
I had no idea how incredible and unique this game experience would be.
Most games I play are fast, loud, and dynamic experiences: open world adventure games, action games and shooters, action-adventure games with large set pieces. I don’t typically slow down for a contemplative mystery game, but in this case, I’m really thankful that I did.
We need games like this. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter doesn’t hold your hand with a tutorial or a mini-map with objective markers. It provides you with just enough to get started, and then it leaves you to figure it out. It challenges our perception of a what a “game” is, and it forces us to think outside the box. That’s why I needed a game like this – why we all need games like this. I will jump back into more “traditional” games and enjoy them for what they are, but this was a great reminder that a game can be more than leveling up and beating a boss.
As the game begins, you emerge from a tunnel into a serene forest. It’s disturbingly quiet, and as you begin to explore your surroundings, it becomes clear that something isn’t right. All you know is that a young boy has gone missing, and you are there to find him. Where is he? Where is his family? Where is… everybody?
I’m tempted to dive into the details of the narrative and explore the impact of each scene and story moment, but I’m not going to do that. In order to truly get the best experience with The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, it’s best to go in without any preparation. Explore every corner until you find the clues and piece together what happened. It’s a game that will suck you in to its world with meaningful writing and absolutely gorgeous environments.
To be clear: It’s not a game for everyone at every moment. If you’re itching for an action-packed game, maybe it’s best to hold off on this one. I’d say the same thing about Gone Home – play it with an open mind, ready to experience something a little different. Once you’re ready for a little slower pace and a dark, mysterious story, then jump in.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a remarkable gaming experience. You will probably only play it one time, but it will stick with you for a long time after the final scene fades to black.