The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Reviews

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is ranked in the 79th percentile of games scored on OpenCritic.
Jul 19, 2015

Creators like Chmielarz need an obvious symbol of false hope to sell (not articulate) their trendy nihilism that, if anything, should vanish.

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Cubed3
Top Critic
5 / 10
Oct 3, 2015

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.

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gameranx
Top Critic
5 / 10.0
Oct 7, 2014

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.

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Oct 7, 2014

"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.

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Game Debate
Joffy S
Top Critic
6 / 10.0
Oct 14, 2014

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.

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6 / 10.0
Oct 6, 2014

As superb as the experience of simply exploring [The Vanishing of Ethan Carter's] eerie environments is, unravelling the plot's mystery isn't terribly enjoyable.

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6 / 10.0
Jan 12, 2018

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.

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Jan 18, 2018

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.

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67 / 100
Sep 30, 2014

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.

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70 / 100
Oct 1, 2014

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.

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GameGrin
Top Critic
7 / 10.0
Oct 12, 2014

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.

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7 / 10
Sep 29, 2014

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.

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Sep 27, 2014

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a good little story with a bleak atmosphere that nonetheless provides some relaxing puzzle solving.

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Jan 22, 2018

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an early narrative adventure game that outdoes some of its later counterparts in ambition.

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Game Rant
Top Critic
Jan 20, 2015

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter's gorgeous visuals, intimate story in intense mysteries make it an easy recommendation despite some mediocre mechanics and voice acting.

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7 / 10.0
Sep 30, 2014

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.

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7 / 10
Jul 20, 2015

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.

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Jan 19, 2018

Still a fascinating and darkly magical murder mystery, despite its occasionally unclear signposting.

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7.2 / 10.0
Dec 15, 2014

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.

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7.3 / 10.0
Jan 22, 2018

Opposite feelings in a game that, on the one hand, we find a visual delight and an absorbing story and, on the other, a repetitive gameplay.

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