Developer(s) – The Chinese Room & SCE Santa Monica Studio
Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment
Director – Jessica Curry
Designer – Andrew Crawshaw
Developed as a spiritual successor to the game Dear Esther, and picked up by Sony after the developers failed to crowd-fund the game, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture turned out to be one of these games that is driven solely by story, and is told through a first person perspective with a fairly sizeable open world with nothing to do in it but walk around. After first seeing this game announced back in E3 2014, I was quite excited for what potential this game had; even going so far as to list as one of my top ten most highly anticipated games at that time. Upon playing it, however, I was glad I didn’t pay any additional amount for it on top of my PlayStation Plus subscription. I was bitterly disappointed by this title. Ben Croshaw of The Escapist described this game as a “walking simulator”, and that’s all, and exactly what it is.
Graphics – 8/10
The game is set in Shropshire in England in the early 80’s, and features a lot of staples of English architecture, such as Victorian style houses and local pubs. One positive thing I can say about this game is that the visuals were handled fairly well, being more impressive on the technical level as opposed to the conceptual level. The game’s soundtrack also does fairly well to add to the game’s deceptively calm atmosphere throughout.
Gameplay – 1/10
The game simply has the player walking around the town trying to piece together exactly what happened to the inhabitants who have mysteriously disappeared. There are no additional quest or combat elements, and the gameplay is almost non-existent. This is where it’s squandered potential comes into play, as there was definitely enough room to add more to it than simply walking around, making it feel like a very insulting gaming experience amounting to nothing more than a very long film.
Controls – 10/10
Mercifully, walking around is as easy as it is in most decent first person games, as there are no problems with the controls. But in a game where the only objective is to walk around, it would probably have been easier to get it right than to mess it up.
Lifespan – 3/10
Clocking in at around 4 and half hours, this is another aspect in which the game’s wasted potential sticks out like a sore thumb. Given the addition of more things to do, it could have been made to last a great deal longer. But given the fact that going outside for a walk would be a much more preferable alternative to playing this game, it’s just as well that it lasts as short a time as it does. I myself could only manage 20 minutes of it.
Storyline – 7/10
The story of the game centres around the player character trying to deduce exactly what happened to the inhabitants of Shropshire, and why they have disappeared so abruptly. The plot does take a few unexpected twists and turns, which is good, but not exceptional in my opinion. Overall, it still doesn’t come close to making up for the severe lack of gameplay. At the same time, the fact that the story isn’t even overly good cheapens the experience further, as there have been countless that have told better stories, yet have had much more in the way of gameplay.
Originality – 4/10
The developers were clearly trying to create something different with this game, but to me, there is hardly anything unique to talk about. The premise is relatively original, but short of that, there is of course no innovation in any other aspect, i.e graphics gameplay etc, which again to me, further cheapens the experience, and defeats the object of what the developers were clearly trying to do in the first place. When I looked at the awards this game has garnished, I don’t believe it’s deserved of any of them, since there were games in both 2015 and 2016 which had better stories; Batman: Arkham Knight, SteamWorld Heist and Undertale to name but a few. And it certainly didn’t deserve the award it got for creative gameplay in the UK from the TIGA Games Industry Awards; I had to laugh when I read that one.
In summation, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture thoroughly deserves it’s designated title of walking simulator; it’s a modern example of wasted potential in video gaming, and in my opinion, should be avoided at all costs.