Top Critic Average
By focusing on the unique story-delivery mechanisms of video games and providing a sufficient level of interactivity, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter side-steps many of the pitfalls associated with narrative-driven adventure games, even as it struggles to escape the sub-genre's orbit.
It's all too rare that we get games like this, where the mysteries are genuinely intriguing and can be played at one's own pace. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is weird and macabre in delicious and often surprising ways. Its tales of madness intensify an already-oppressive atmosphere of decay, telling a compelling story of a town gone mad and a kid trying to make sense of it all. It's just that those stories are so well-hidden behind invisible game mechanics that players themselves may go mad in the process.
I've tried to temper my enthusiasm for The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, but it's difficult to remain objective when writing about something you've genuinely enjoyed. If you hate puzzles, you won't like this game. If you only want fast-paced, explosive action then you won't like this game. If you want nothing but to be scared senseless, then you probably won't like this game. If any of the above apply then you really should look elsewhere, but if you want a well-crafted (and at times totally insane) adventure through a twisted, but beautiful world that's driven by a compelling plot then The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is very much your kind of game. It's on steam now, at only £14.99.
It is, however, probably the most aesthetically beautiful game I've seen, and I can genuinely recommend it on that basis alone. The rest of the game, it's sombre tale, is well worth hearing, and some of the puzzles are really splendid. But every time you walk out of a door and see the vista spread before you, it's an effort not to gasp.
I believe The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an incredible game that shouldn't be missed. Of course it won't be everyone's cup of tea and it's massively story-centered, but if you don't mind this, you will enjoy what is a real jewel of a game and a title from which the gaming industry can learn a lot.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a splendid narrative experience that is not to be missed. If this one is sitting in your Steam library, your wishlist, or your mental wishlist, just pull the trigger and find out what happened to Ethan Carter. It's a story unlike any other.
If you're looking for a gorgeous game with a strong story between those heavy-hitters this month, then be sure to check out The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Aside from its performance issues, the game is in many ways a masterpiece which every Xbox One owner should consider.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is perhaps the best walking simulator I have ever played, dabbling in the occult without being a cheesy ghost story where weird stuff just happens for no reason other than the call of Cthulhu.
Do you have a PC? Is it reasonably up-to-date? Well, if you haven't played The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, you're missing out on one of the best games of the year. Developer The Astronauts has crafted a masterful mystery in an unbelievably beautiful and atmospheric setting, and raised the bar for what this kind of an experience can be. And, for an extremely reasonable price of admission, you, too, can find yourself never wanting to leave its well-crafted world.
As soon as I finished The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, I started it again and was greeted by that same warning. "This game is a narrative experience that does not hold your hand." Originally I thought it was telling me that I was going to be challenged by what followed and that I shouldn't expect any help in figuring it out. And I still think that. But I also suspect The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, which rarely uses a word more than it has to, is making a broader point when it says it doesn't intend to hold your hand.
A must purchase experience that invokes a feeling of true beauty, reflection and freedom. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter needs to be experienced to truly understand as both a game and self-reflective journey of beauty and warmth
Personally I can’t recommend this game enough. If you have an evening available and you are looking for a great game then you should give The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter a try!
The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter will have you thinking about it after the credits roll. It's not a perfect package or a long one, but the short time you spend in Red Creek Valley will be mesmerising.
When it comes to psychological scares, this whodunit of a ghost story introduces you to your own worst enemy: Being inside your own head. You may anticipate more horror than you'll actually run across, but that's a horrific thought in its own right.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a compelling interactive novella that draws players in with its beautifully atmospheric setting. The slow burn narrative doesn't quite land the final emotional punch it's aiming for, but it more than satisfies on every other level.
The Vanishing Ethan Carter is definitely the must play game of the year that successfully creates a gripping and engaging tale without an ounce of input from the game itself. All the clues are right in front of the player and thus it's up to you to put back together this amazing jigsaw puzzle about a young boy and his dark family with some of the best graphics you'll witness on the PC. More importantly, the game definitely deserves another play through due to the cleverly written puzzles and wondrous links to the Carter family.
'The Vanishing of Ethan Carter' is not a perfect game. It's an alarmingly creative step in the ongoing trek of telling stories through games. At times, I got lost, and some of the puzzles seem like the output of a developer running out of steam, but the core mechanics at play are always gravitating towards Ethan's trials as a kid struggling with family. Exploring these overgrown environments is a way to step into Ethan's lonesome shoes, solving the crimes show his fears and uncovering his stories meaning passing through the doomed optimism of a young, fertile mind. There's tragedy in the small and big moments alike. The framework for this story has been told before, but never like this, never in a way that only games can tell it. Supernatural indeed.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a game you should experience. I just made an ass of myself writing a review like a bad pulp noir because this game really made me feel like an intrepid pulp detective. I was a little disappointed with the short playthrough, but it had such high quality because it was short. Even then, some of it came apart near the end simply because it's hard to keep such high expectations in tact for so long. Buy it, and do your best not to have the answers spoiled for you.
Perhaps where The Vanishing of Ethan Carter succeeds most is in establishing a sense of place. This is the kind of game that you'll want to get lost in. Grab a pair of headphones, listen to the wind rustle through trees, and do your best to get through its four-hour journey in a single sitting. Even something as simple as walking out of the forest into a sunlit glade has impact, and as you follow the twists and turns of its multi-threaded story, you'll be caught up in its unsettling intrigue.
If you love exploration, mystery, even a sense of wonder and awe, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter provides all this and more. For the 4 to 6 hours the game lasts, it's definitely a memorable experience.
A more than competent puzzler that wows with its impressive vistas, excellent sound design and subtle horror-tinged plot. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a thing of dark beauty.
While some will find the pace far too slow for their liking or the crime-scene puzzles too simplistic, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter holds up well. Having the story told almost out of sequence makes it even more chilling as you see people slowly turn on each other. The melancholy tale is matched with some wonderful visions to make a game that really sticks in the mind.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a game for connoisseurs of games that are visually stunning and and relay on an idea rather than gameplay mechanics. It lasts a few hours and lacks replayability, but the story is quite good and worth playing. Just like Gone Home.
Review in Polish | Read full review
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an impassioned monument to its prestigious foundations. A product-of-assembly depiction makes for an idle assessment, but it's difficult not to look at Ethan Carter and see narrative guidance from Twain and Vern, Lovecraft's proclivity for the destructive supernatural, and Chandler's pulpy detective fiction. The tale Ethan Carter ultimately aches to tell isn't as complex or natural as its influences, but it finds ample success in directing a curious story through an interactive ensemble.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a solid experience that I really enjoyed taking. It could have benefitted from a little more structure and fleshing out the characters a bit more.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter sets out to achieve a very specific goal and despite some slight missteps along the way, it largely succeeds in offering players a sense of spectral wonder through simplistic gameplay and stunning visuals, all wrapped in a well written mystery that leaves its mark.
A richly atmospheric, story-led adventure which makes up for in chills what it lacks in challenge. The puzzles could be tougher and more varied, and at times all the wandering drags, but it's a superb-looking, forward-thinking mystery game that creeps you out without resorting to the usual sudden scares.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a solid experience that I really enjoyed taking. It could have benefitted from a little more structure and fleshing out the characters a bit more. Still, it is great to finally have the game come to Xbox, and I am happy to have experienced it.
I expected more from this game, content-wise mostly, whoever at it's asking price there is more than enough content, i'd love to play this in VR. As most 'walking simulator's this is not a game for everyone, especially if you don't explore much, you can almost make it to the ending skipping most of what there is for you to find. Do read the webcomic at http://www.theastronauts.com/comic/ which acts as a prequel to the game.
Review in Spanish | Read full review
One of the best story driven games of the year, and one of the prettiest, although you do sometimes wonder if it's focusing on the most interesting aspect of its plot.
As the credits roll on this brief but powerful experience, you'll realise a lot is left open to interpretation. For some, that's to be expected. For others, it'll be infuriating. Prospero rarely seems to be in a hurry – even when he bloody should be – and as such, his plodding pace is very much a gamer's Marmite; you'll either love it or hate it… but good grief is this a mystery worth solving.
It keeps you on edge just enough to pique your curiosity for what the next mystery will bring, and marries that mystery with an eerily beautiful world worth being curious about.
Despite a few issues that prevent the game from being a wholly immersive open-world exploratory experience, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter packs an impressive punch. The four to five hour long game's world is aesthetically perfect, the stories are equal parts fascinating and bizarre and it's a hell of a ride from beginning to end.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a fantastic game. My only true complaints are the short length and lack of replayability, but I can easily stomach that after enjoying it so much. I'd love to see more games in this vein from The Astronauts since the story really grabs the players and pushes them to continue. It is definitely worth playing for those that enjoy a bit of suspense in the middle of supernatural mystery.
I'd never have pegged the folks behind Bulletstorm to craft something like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, but I'm very glad that they did. It has a few niggling issues, but ultimately this is a brilliantly subtle, imaginative and thoughtful game.
But that's another debate for another day. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is one of the most beautiful games ever developed, and backs its aesthetics up with some of the finest Lovecraftian narratives that we've seen in interactive form. It's a compelling argument for games as art, in other words, and not just because it makes for some awesome digital postcards.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter may not be a long journey, but the breathtaking visuals and atmosphere are enough to captivate most anybody on their way to solving a number of mysteries that all play a part in the overall story.
The story, the full narrative, is relevant to a lot of children like Ethan Carter and is steeped in sobering realism. For that, I would encourage you to discover it and find him.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter's too much focus on story telling might prevent it from offering a true adventure experience, but nevertheless the story, atmosphere and world design is so solid that you'll just love it.
Review in Persian | Read full review
Developer The Astronauts has proven that you don't need a AAA budget to create a game that is not only beautiful, but also thought provoking and atmospheric. The game's only pitfall is how short it can be if you are only interested in the main story, but I would say it is worth a second play-through to discover all of the hidden investigations and secrets. If you are into Lovecraft or Poe and appreciate a macabre mystery with heavy atmosphere, you owe it to yourself to dive into the world of Ethan Carter.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was already great when it released on the PC in late 2014, and the PS4 version succeeds in re-purposing that same experience for a new audience. While reworking the title in Unreal Engine 4 hasn't brought about a drastic number of changes, it performs adequately barring some framerate hiccups. For the most part, though, this game delivers an intriguing and thought-provoking detective experience that – in its own words – doesn't hold your hand.
Fight through that frustration of wondering where to go when you start The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Once you learn the rules of the game, you'll find a deeply satisfying, if short, story within.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a great mix of storytelling and adventure, now available with 4K support on Xbox One X. A definite pick if you missed The Astronauts' debut game on either PC or PlayStation 4.
An interesting proposal that we've seen twice before it's Xbox release. Although it's one of the most beautiful games that you can find on Xbox One X, but not one of the longest or fastest.
Review in Spanish | Read full review
I'm happy I spent the past few days playing through Vanishing and I'd recommend it to patient gamers who are fans of mysterious experiences, non-linear storytelling, and games that are heavy on atmosphere.
Echoing classic horror stories from authors like H.P. Lovecraft, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a wonderfully unique experience. It's not without its faults, but if you can get past the shallow story and gameplay, you'll be in for an immersive treat.
The core elements of the game are all very good: story, visuals and gameplay are top notch, but they don't combine particularly well. The lofty ideas of player independence are held back by the need to tell a convincing story and the narrative can conversely be held back by the degree of player agency that does exist. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an enjoyable short game by all accounts, the sum just isn't quite as good as the parts.
Like the unnerving fiction that inspired it, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a bold and fascinating story. But the story is something that's revealed, not something that's lived through. I was a tourist, a witness, a reader, and that left less room for being a player. Yet I expect the game to stay with me for a good long time, and its grisly, gorgeous world alone makes the trek worthwhile.
The relatively gratifying story and straightforward puzzles aren't the real reasons to visit Red Creek Valley. The location is a good enough reason itself. More often than not people look to graphics as an indication for this medium's progression and even though that's somewhat of a falsehood, it has to be said that this spirit story's looks are otherworldly.
In the end, Ethan Carter's ratios are just a bit off: maybe a little less hand-holding at certain times, a little more at others. But to pretend that it's not there at all is just a refusal to acknowledge the way in which details and design choices can limit or direct play.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter might be less involved than a lot of mystery games, but it is by no stretch any less fascinating, beautiful or immersive. Its haunting atmosphere sucks you in with its unsettling vibe, but it's the mystery that keeps you there until the very end. It may not be the longest game, but if the supernatural intrigues you even a little, then this one case worth taking.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter uses ambiguity to tell an interesting tale. Unfortunately the lack of direction can mean you spend too much time aimlessly fumbling through a pretty world.
If you have the patience for a lot of wandering about and backtracking there's an intriguing story to experience here, but the expertly crafted atmosphere isn't always enough to mask the occasional gameplay frustration, getting in the way of the storytelling.
"Atmosphere, not action, is the great desideratum of weird fiction," writes Lovecraft, and in the end it is the game's loyalty to this principle which often makes The Vanishing of Ethan Carter such engrossing experience. And while a bit atmosphere never killed anyone, the subtle macabre of Ethan Carter's world will certainly mess with your head if you let it.
Despite it all though, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a deeply atmospheric visual treat, that seems as much about just being there as experiencing the tale set within it. What The Astronauts has created here is a believable and immersive world unfortunately backed up by a poor tale and barebones gameplay. I'd be hard-pressed to say it's not worth a go whatsoever, but for a glorified walk in the woods you may be better off waiting until it's on sale.
That's the irony of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter in a nutshell. When you first start up the game, it declares that it "is a narrative experience that does not hold your hand," but that's true only of its mechanics. Narratively it holds your hand so tightly that once it was over I had to wait a few minutes for feeling to return.
The Astronauts made an interesting experiment with The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, and while the team's attempt to tell some kind of tragic and emotional story is kind of effective, the overall gameplay, which serves as the grubby middleman that glues the whole tapestry together, is just not the hours wandering around in the Wisconsin woods. This probably would have made for a great novel instead of a video game.