Imagine being a silent witness to someone’s final moments. Seeing bits and pieces of their life before it all comes to an end. Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture takes this concept and allows you to experience a world that is both intriguing and beautiful. You wander through the fictional English village of Yaughton, a quiet, community centric place that seems even more silent than usual. As you take the first few steps you begin to realize that you are the only one in this village, everyone else, every man, woman and child has simply disappeared. Journeying forth you will find small orbs of bright light that slowly guide you through the beautiful village unraveling new stories and memories of the residence here. As you take each step you discover more and more of what happened in this place, giving a mystery that is both interesting and thought provoking. Through each message on the radio and telephone and with each memory displayed with the lights taking on vague human forms of the people whose memories these belong to you start to get caught up in the world.
The first thing to stand out to the player as you boot up the game for the first time is the visuals, The Chinese Room, developers of Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture made sure to make a captivating world to help ease you into the slowburn of the game. With its beautiful serene ponds and lush green trees to the bright, golden stems of hay in the fields each part of the village is breathtaking. As you walk through the empty chapel of the church and as you wander through the empty houses where the once living have left behind their belongings you no longer feel as though you are playing a game. Instead you feel as though you have been transported to a world, into a story that guides you along gently, whetting your appetite for more scenery and more pieces of the lives of the residents of Yaughton. The visuals alone capture your attention but what helps further your immersion is the lovely soundtrack that Jessica Curry has masterfully crafted.
With each song Jessica helps evoke the emotions that the narrative wants the player to feel as they walk through this empty village. Using instruments such as piano and flutes Curry brings you into the peaceful world of Yaughton and while you may be the only one there you can’t help but still be caught up in the beauty of the place. The loneliness and the emotions surrounding such a tale however are still prevalent as she uses hauntingly beautiful choir pieces and vocals to elevate the emotional beats of the story. Through the soundtrack Curry not only captures a player’s heart and stirs it she also pulls them into the world, surrounding them in an ethereal experience that makes it hard to place down the game.
While the gameplay isn’t anything to write home about landing squarely in what is known as a walking simulator it does its job. What makes this game such a unique and memorable experience is through its story and themes. As you stroll through the village of Yaughton and follow the glowing bright orb that symbolizes a significant member of the village you start to learn about their lives. You quickly discover early on that these people are anything but flawless whether you are following Father Jeremy as he tries to be a good pastor for the people here or you are Stephen Appleton, a hard headed scientist who seems to be trying to fight against whatever is causing these people to disappear you realize that they are all flawed. They are human, they’ve made mistakes, done things that you don’t agree with or have acted in ways that make sense but still don’t have the best outcomes. Presenting characters that have flaws makes them feel closer to living breathing people. You silently watch through the memories of Lizzie and can see yourself meeting someone just like her. Through these characters and their believable tales as they live through their final moments make this game stand out from other titles. You can relate to them on one level or another and as you do so you come to realize one similarity that runs through each of their stories like a string. They all have lives that they aren’t the proudest of, varying from person to person, each of them have aspects of it they want to change or make better. But even though they have things in life that they don’t like they still hold onto it desperately when the end comes near. No matter the case it seems like it is human nature to want just a day, an hour, a minute or a second more of life. Seeing each character experience their final moment, reacting to it in different ways will stick with the player long after they finish the game. It is this aspect of the game elevated by the visuals and the music that make this game such an experience. Even though this story does leave a bit open ended I would say that is one of its strengths, not a weakness. Taking in all the memories, all the puzzle pieces the game has to offer it allows the player to come to their own conclusion on the cause of the disappearance of the villagers and whether they view the cause in a more positive, hopeful light or in a more somber tone all depends on what you felt the story was trying to convey through the causation of this event.
Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture is a beautiful, thought provoking indie game that I encourage people to play. It is a unique kind of game that evokes deep thought and emotion through its short four hour and a half playtime. Try out this game for yourself and delve into the village of Yaughton. Available on Playstation 4 and Microsoft Windows at $19.99 it is well worth experiencing and if that price tag is too steep for you don’t worry, Black Friday sales are just around the corner. So if you see this game for sale or want to just go for it get ready to go on a quiet, thoughtful adventure through a beautiful, sparse, British village.