It’s the end of the world as we know it and the apocalypse has never been prettier.
Gently released into a fictional version of rural England, circa 1980s, the player of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is all alone as they explore the fields, woods, and lanes of the game. Something has happened, possibly something very bad, and it’s up to the player to uncover the clues. The story is filled in through hints in the scenery, things like bloody tissues or cars left abandoned on sidewalks, but most of these clues are refreshingly left open for the player to interpret. In an age where cutscenes are getting longer and longer and even Call of Duty games are becoming increasingly dense, Rapture allows breathing room for interpretation. Alongside visual story beats, game studio The Chinese Room presents “echoes” of the villages inhabitants, signified by glowing orbs of light, and interacting with these reveal both final moments and events long-since passed. The human aspect of the game is far and away the best part and for a story with no other actual people the world feels incredibly fleshed out and lived-in. The cast of the characters, flawed and sympathetic, all bear ties with one another for better and worse and their stories drive the game. Through the flashbacks of soothing light the player watches as the villagers wrestle with faith, mortality, and their pasts all in the face of something infinitely mysterious. The mystery of what actually caused everyone to vanish will be for some the main goal of their playthrough and your interpretation of the events will likely influence how much you enjoy that aspect of the story.
If Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture has one flaw, and it really only has the one, it is from a gameplay standpoint. As you navigate the beauty of the valley, and there are moments that will leave your mouth open and tears in your eyes, the player moves with no urgent speed, perhaps in reflection of how life was before the possible Rapture. Even sprinting, which takes several seconds of holding down the R2 button for it to take effect, feels rather underwhelming, especially considering how large of an area there is to explore. While it can be occasional annoying, especially when you need to backtrack to previous areas, it in no way detracts from the core of the game. Speed aside, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a beautiful blend of alien mystery and human heartbreak and one that demands multiple trips through the pristine English countryside. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is out now for the PS4.
Photo Source: Sony Computer Entertainment