It may not be Uncharted 4 or Horizon: Zero Dawn, but there are few games I left E3 more excited about than Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture at the Sony Booth. The entire game was on show on the floor, but I have to admit that I only wanted to play a small portion of it to save the entire experience for when I could play it all at home. Yep, it was that good.
The game comes from The Chinese Room, developers of Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Writer Dan Pinchbeck was actually on hand, manning the stand, to talk players through the game and to discuss the process in developing the game.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture takes place in a small English country town, where as the name implies, everybody has vanished. However, you can still investigate what they have left behind – from signs on noticeboards, or traces of blood on car seats, to broadcasts still echoing from radios. From what I was able to gather, there had been some kind of quarantine in effect, and an impending disaster was known to the inhabitants, but beyond that I would have to play longer to piece together more of the story.
That’s actually your main objective – to unravel the mystery for yourself by exploring the environment, much like The Chinese Room’s other games. The more attention you pay to the environment and the more you explore, the more you’ll personally get out of the experience, and they’re projecting the entire game could last up to 8 hours.
The townsfolk haven’t just left behind belongings and objects, but memories as well. As you travel through the town you encounter golden whisps of energy, which dart through the streets leading you onward and also interacting with you to a degree, using motion control. Doing this will unveil small scenes, which appear to depict ghosts replaying events before whatever disaster has occurred. The first one of these I came across depicted a couple arguing with another difficult individual about preparing for what was coming, with some obvious tension appearing between the couple as well. These whisps all seem to have their own personalities and names, and following particular ones will form a ‘connection’ with them or so Dan told us. The game is non-linear, so it’s up to you who you follow and where you go.
There’s not enough information for me to really give a firm overview of the story, but that’s a good thing as the mystery will be one of the key aspects of the game. What I can tell you is that I greatly enjoyed the cool melancholy atmosphere, as the bright well-lit and charming environment of the town contrasted with its creepy emptiness and the echoes of disaster. There’s even a few radios hidden around town broadcasting number station signals, which is always a sure-fire way to chill you to the bone.
I really loved the time I spent exploring the town and can’t wait to play the rest as soon as possible, as the game is released within the next few months in 2015. It looks like another winner from The Chinese Room, and I’m looking forward to uncovering the mystery for myself on PS4.