Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is an acquired taste, let me just say that straight away. There is no action, no scares and no platforming. It is a game where you walk around, interact with objects and experience the story. Friends of mine were bored rigid watching or playing the game. I totally understand why. It’s not a fun game… at all. Yet due to the atmosphere, beautiful graphics, touching music and haunting story, I found Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture to be a memorable, eerie, and emotional experience that I will definitely revisit.
Set in the fictional Shropshire village of Yaughton, you play a nameless, identity-less form, drifting around the impressively-scaled and beautifully rendered village, with the apparent aim of finding out where everybody went. See, for some reason, the people of Yaughton just disappeared. Everything is left as it was when the people vanished. It’s chilling to wander around such an accurate representation of a rural Shropshire village, piecing together the last moments of the villagers’ lives to work out what happened in a larger story.
The gameplay is as simple as it gets. You follow glowing orbs around the countryside taking in the ambiance, with the orbs eventually manifesting into a scene that unfolds as you watch. These moments can seem inconsequential at first, but they all contribute to a larger story that still has me wondering months on. There are some tender moments that I found to be especially moving, and some story twists I didn’t see coming. There are also smaller, linked stories to be found that show what the villagers were doing when they all started vanishing.
There’s a scene in the doctor’s surgery after a random outbreak of nosebleeds in the town, and the nurse is urging the doctor to do more to relax the patients. The doctor raises his head and the nurse realises his nose is also gushing blood. The scene ends at that point. Filling in the rest is up to you. You may notice wads of bloody tissue in waste bins, or tipped over chairs, cars with their doors left open. All of these seemingly pointless objects in the world serve a purpose of helping the player understand what happened without showing them directly. It’s an eerie mystery for the player to solve and a sad story to be told.
Best of British
You never see the inhabitants of Yaughton in a rendered form; they are more like clusters of glowing stars in the shapes of people. That doesn’t really matter when the voice work in EGTTR is some of the best I’ve heard in a game, ever. I can’t say for sure whether its very familiar Britishness is biasing my opinion, but it sounds scarily convincing and powerful to me, and that sells characters more to me than a well-rendered face ever could. Add in the dramatic and touching award-winning music, and you have a recipe for potential tears. There were more than a couple of occasions where I felt my bottom lip quivering.
Ghosts live here
EGTTR is easily the most realistic game world I’ve ever been in. Seriously, just look at the pictures. I’ve seen villages like this around England, and the representation here is spot on. I think it’s part of the reason I found the whole game to be so affecting. Walking around a world where people have just disappeared is eerie to say the least.
There is an amazingly rendered pub in the village, where stubbed cigarettes still pass a thin trail of smoke into the air, their owners vanishing seemingly seconds before. A clock ticks somewhere in another room. Pint glasses litter the tables and bar. The last orders of a town in its last hours. You also explore a family home, each room telling a story. In the parents’ room, a suitcase is packed. In the child’s room, haunting, symbolic drawings are sketched on paper with crayons amid signs of rushed packing. It’s moody, to say the least.
To sum up…
I can heartily recommend Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture to gamers looking for a more zen-like experience, like Journey or The Unfinished Swan. It won’t satisfy adrenaline junkies or people who are bored easily. It will reward those who explore Yaughton with a satisfying – if inconclusive plot – and one of the most beautiful, unique and introspective experiences the PS4 has to offer. If you’re on the fence, this is a prime title to be given away free on PS+ in the near future.