‘The Vanishing of Ethan Carter’ has the merit to feed our curiosity leading us into an abyss of horror that increases slowly, but inevitably, tampers with our anxiety level.
The game is a fascinating mystery story, developed by the independent Polish team ‘The Astronaut’ in 2014 for PC. It’s a walking simulator, settled in a valley where we will not just take a walk, but we’re going to investigate the horrors.
The game starts in the role of Paul Prospero, an investigator specialised in resolving crimes of the paranormal, who decided to go to Red Creek Valley after a bizarre request for help from a twelve-year-old, named Ethan Carter.
The game begins in a tunnel, just outside of it the spectacular landscape of the valley is shown in its full beauty. The next step is the bridge where you realise the game is set in an old mining town, now abandoned. Before starting the descent into the valley, we find the first victim, on which the investigations will bring the first answers,
which will do nothing but open the way to new and more disturbing questions.
This is just a prelude to what has shocked the Carter family.
The whole valley is abandoned and ruined, the entire exploration of scenarios and landscapes is accompanied by a feeling that there is something profoundly wrong.
Nevertheless, in the cemetery, hovers a death-riddled and contorted perception, where it is possible to see a glorious past, undoubtedly a vibrant community must have populated the Valley. The train, now off the rails, historically must have been bringing as many people to admire the beautiful Valley of Red Creek back and forth.
Unfortunately, everything has an end, and the flourishing city is now over in the past. Probably the Carter family were the last to have inhabited the valley, which undoubtedly was housing something or someone dangerous, accidentally awakened by a young Ethan: an unspeakable horror has been awakened from the tomb, upsetting the Carter family.
The first impression of the game is complete bewilderment: no map, no inventory or guidance on what to do or where to go.
Of course, when you start to move it is possible to understand the dynamics of the game, where to go and where not to go. Then when our inspector is called to solve a series of events, through which the protagonist slowly reconstructs the events of the Carter Family, and obviously the disappearance of Ethan.
The plot becomes essential to the progress of the game, which I consider it strength not to underestimate. But the real power is the artistic direction of the game, where the visual appearance is the impressive wealth of detail, dynamics and light effects. No less important is the sound of the game, always in perfect sync to feed our anxiety as the play continues.
The game is relatively short and less complicated than it sounds. I suggest it to anyone who is a fan of the paranormal mystery but especially to those who have a mega ultra HD screen to enjoy and immerse yourself in the incredible Red Creek Valley.
Photo by Pauline Mae De Leon on Unsplash