Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture Review

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Posted August 17, 2015 by Chris White in Video Games

Developed by: The Chinese Room

Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment

Release date: 11th August

Available on: PS4, PC

 

I knew before I started playing Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture that I’d like it; the setting alone was going to feel familiar and I love those indie exploration games that are marketed on their poignancy. The one thing I wasn’t expecting was the gut-wrenching story that ended up being detrimental to the overall experience. I’d recently played Journey for the first time and man, did that hit me hard, but this game—this game is devastating. The premise: you are alone in the aftermath of a rapturous event that has rendered a small Shropshire village completely hollow of life itself. Simple, but powerful—The Chinese Room has created something truly magnificent.

 

You start off on a country road that has a strange observatory at the end of it. The gate blocks it off so you can’t get in and there are no indicators as to where to go. Like the character, you are clueless, alone and anxious. Where has everyone gone? What am I going to do? It is these questions that drive your quest for answers and the truth. As you begin to walk through Yaughton, you’ll encounter a number of small, golden balls of light that seem to have some connection to the answers. With each glowing sphere you meet, a name appears on-screen and it isn’t until you start to grasp the story that you will understand why these names appear and what they mean. But that first moment when you realise and understand, you’ll sink a little inside.

 

You also start to realize that these lights are guiding you through Yaughton. They may swirl in frantic patterns around you, or they will shoot off ahead and stop outside a location that you need to explore. But they will always help you and you should take note of their whereabouts as they will be your only guide to resolving the mystery of the village folk’s disappearance.

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The village of Yaughton is surprisingly big, and the way it looks is awe-inspiring. Growing up a mere 5 miles away from villages like Yaughton, I instantly felt a connection to it. The quaint little pubs, the country roads, the personable news agents and churches, the parks and the farms, the lakes and the train station—I was conversant with all of it. On the outside, it was beautiful, but as you explored the interiors of some of the houses and buildings aforementioned, the real horror in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture reared its gloomy head.

 

It was no more than twenty or thirty minutes in when I witnessed the first memory that shocked and upset me. These ‘memories’ are incandescent silhouettes that represent an interaction by the former inhabitants of Yaughton. Some are short and last no more than 30 seconds whilst others can unravel over a few minutes and give you plenty of information on what happened to them. In this case, without giving too much away, you see the vicar, Jeremy comfort a clearly distressed mother who is crying hysterically about the disappearance of her husband and son. You watch as she tells you that they headed up the stairs in their family home six hours ago and haven’t come down. Amanda (the poor woman’s name) hasn’t dared to come up in case she sees something horrifying. It was devastating to see a woman weep about the fate of her family, and it was in this memory that I understood there was more to Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture than just exploration.

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The story of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is remarkable. As mentioned before, the characters are fully fleshed out and all have engaging personalities that make you want to know more. Each person—regardless of whether you like them or not will strike a chord in some way. Some are kind, others are selfish, but all are doing what they think is right. The sense of community spirit that you start to become accustomed to is intoxicating. I found the way they spoke and knew each other added to the melancholy impact of their departure. It hurt—it upset me and I wanted everyone to be OK. The voice actors deserve a lot of praise too, each one contributes and with every emotion and conversation comes realism and a genuine personality. I can’t stress how integral the cast is—The Chinese Room absolutely won here.

 

I can honestly say that I have never heard a soundtrack like the one that accompanies Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Jessica Curry is incredibly gifted. Each piece of music does a great job of elevating the tension or soothing the soul when you’re at your weakest. The haunting choir and the softer melodies all do a great job of building atmosphere within the game and there isn’t a time when it feels out of place.

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Yaughton is a big place, and to some, the fact that you have to move at a slow pace through it can be daunting and frustrating. However, I found that it didn’t really affect me too much. I quite enjoyed moving at a normal pace—it added realism and allowed me to take it all in. Yes, there is a ‘run’ function that allows you to move a little bit faster (after exactly 7 seconds), but it isn’t particularly necessary. I was so infatuated by the eerie, sunlit setting that it hardly mattered. Your only other action in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is to switch on these small orange radios that are located throughout Yaughton. They give more clues as to what is happening in the observatory and how this ‘light’ is having an effect on Kate—the scientist whose voice you’ll hear on the wireless.

 

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a single-player game. However, one of the reasons that it will hold a deeper meaning for me is the experience I shared with my wife. With her growing up in the same village as me, I thought it may be nice for her to watch me for a little while and feel the same connection as I did. An hour later, she was engrossed in the story, making pages of notes about the mystery of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and experiencing the same wealth of emotions as I. There were times when we paused the game in favour of reflecting on something that had happened—sharing our thoughts on what we thought was going on and coming up with our own conclusions.

 

Some of the dialect resonated with her. One of the older characters said something that reminded her of her grandad, Alf, and it was moving. The whole game was moving for the both of us. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is an experience that I’ll cherish forever, and a story that will be regarded as one of the greatest in the medium of video games for as long as I live.

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Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a stunning game in every single way. You’re never really sure what to believe and whether you think the mystery is based around religion, science or otherworldly beings; you’re left guessing to the end. The Chinese Room has created a tight-knit experience that breaks your heart.


About the Author

Chris White

Rock n' Roll Nerd, Gamer, Writer, Lover and procrastinator.