Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture Review

The Chinese Room have historically made experimental games that offer little in the way of gameplay, but focus on beautifully rendered worlds and narrative flair. Their latest title continues in that vein, as they explore the fictional lives of a small English village at the end of days. The Christian influence is evident throughout, but it accentuates the ominous tone Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture wishes to convey with astonishing grace.

Right off the bat it should be noted that your interaction in this game is, like most other The Chinese Room games, minimal. That said, this is no Dear Esther and your path isn’t as clearly defined as you wander around the houses and sights of the Shropshire village of Yaughton and the surrounding areas. As you do so, you’ll come across swirling masses of light that can be interacted with using the six-axis motion controls, and though it is finicky at first, you soon get the hang of what the game wants you to do.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8z8qv6qhhAY

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Even though Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a “walking simulator”, it need not move at a snail’s pace. What doesn’t help is that at launch, the game’s control scheme in the pause menu mistakenly omits the button command to move faster – R2. Even with this knowledge, walking from place to place is an inflated task due to the speed with which you walk. Some might say that this was intentional to really let you soak in the sights, but it merely drags out the interim sections.

The Chinese Room have emphasised the non-linear progression of this narrative and while that is to be commended, the erratic behaviour of the wisps of light occasionally got me thoroughly lost. It made my experience by the end feel a little disjointed as stories would resolve long after they should have because I felt like I was misled. When a game accidentally puts the player in a situation where there’s an hour of aimless walking, it’s done something wrong.

EGTTR5

As a game, it sadly doesn’t work, but Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture makes the case that a compelling experience goes far beyond just being a good gameplay experience. As far as premises go, this one is a bit out there initially, as an event leads to the local area becoming completely deserted. Exploring the surrounding sunny village, you see the final events of the residents of the local area, affected by some great tragedy manifest themselves through these swirls of light that play them back to you.

What makes the story so compelling is how natural it all feels. The village politics remind me of a combination of TV shows with similar settings and the real-life dramas of quaint English settlements. Yet the supernatural element, the wisps floating around in the sky, made me ask many other questions: Who am I in this world? Am I causing harm by delving deeper? Most of this went unanswered, left to my own interpretation, yet I didn’t mind the ambiguous nature of the story.

Despite the rather ominous tone and the fact that Yaughton is a fictional place, Shropshire Council should consider honouring The Chinese Room for their efforts to encourage tourism in the area. Approaching the sleepy village, I was amazed by just how on point the visual design was. Water effects are among the most convincing I’ve seen, if slightly clean for the geological area. Washing hung on the line moves in a dynamic and realistic way in the wind. It’s a shame you can’t kick footballs and the interiors of some houses share the same layout however.

Over the top of all of this is a beautifully haunting choral score, woven by The Chinese Room’s Jessica Curry. As the drama of each scene ramps up, the music becomes more intense; with the crescendos being the cherry on top of this emotional cake, before softly fading to nothingness as a scene draws to a close. It’s simply magnificent in this department, but it also acts to compliment the voice acting which manages to convey the desperation each character faces without the need to resort to motion capture and seeing a person’s face digitally recreated.

What’s Good:

  • Yaughton is an incredibly immersive place.
  • Somber soundtrack sets the tone wonderfully.
  • Compelling narrative throughout.
  • Graphical fidelity is stunning.

What’s Bad:

  • Getting around the village takes forever, even with running speed.
  • Misleading wisps make getting lost easy.

As light on gameplay as it is, Everbody’s Gone to the Rapture is as beautiful as it is thought provoking. It’s hard to find fault with its technical prowess, showcasing just how detailed interactive media can be, but on top of this we have a narrative that is disjointed yet somehow works wonderfully as it increases curiosity, and music that is poignant in all the right ways. If Dear Esther was pretentious, in my eyes, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture can only be described as enrapturing.

Score: 9/10

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26 Comments

  1. As long as people know that it’s light on gameplay (as you’ve mentioned) then I can’t help think that something so intriguingly beautiful is pretty much for anyone who can embrace the walking simulator genre. :D

    Definitely getting this as I’ve read a good few reviews, now, and it’s all turning up trumps.

  2. Downloaded & installed remotely as didn’t make it home last night. Looking forward to trying it out this evening.

  3. Looks great and sounds interesting but how much sixaxis is involved? I really hate sixaxis controls.

    • It’s only used in a few places. Just at the end of each of the little stories. Even then, you just tilt it about for a bit until something happens, really. Which leads to some of the nicest looking bits in the game.

      Not that the rest of the game doesn’t look and sound lovely while you’re wandering around the nice polite, Radio 4 Apocalypse.

      • That doesn’t sound too bad but it make’s you wonder why they included it in the first place. It has to be the most frustrating feature ever. Especially when the puzzles require even the smallest degree of accuracy. Then it’s like trying to draw a straight line during an earthquake.

  4. The game intrigues me but I don’t think it’s for me. I get bored quite quickly if I’m just roaming around with nothing to do other than look for stuff.

    • It doesn’t sound like the most exciting of experiences does it?

      My concern about it would be that I spend 5 minutes looking around, enjoying the scenery & following the odd wisp before the “now what?” question enters my head.

      I don’t think this is for me.

      • I’m with you both on this game, it’s not for me. If I want to spend a few hours aimlessly wandering around then I’ll go shopping with the wife.

      • This is exactly what I think my experience with the game will be. Think I might wait for it to hit PSPlus or come way down in price. It does sound interesting, but I just can’t justify paying for something when I’m so unsure about the actual game.

  5. I’m sure i’ll occasionally be frustrated by the slow movement speed but i do like to have a good look around in these games anyway so shouldn’t be too bad. Good review, i’ll be picking this up soon.

  6. Let’s hope they use your quote on any future physical release…

    “As a game, it sadly doesn’t work” 9/10 – The Sixth Axis

    • I was expecting a much lower score when I read that.

    • Very good point. If TSA were rating this as a game what would the score be? If Tony, Forrest01 or I were to rate it I think it would fairly low.

    • Some more promotional quotes for you…

      “Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a ‘walking simulator'”
      “little in the way of gameplay”
      “interaction in this game is, like most other The Chinese Room games, minimal”
      “When a game accidentally puts the player in a situation where there’s an hour of aimless walking, it’s done something wrong”

      9/10 – The Sixth Axis

      • To be fair, if we had personalised reviews then I’d want 0/10 for every football game that TSA reviews. :-)

      • I do think the wrong person can review a game.

        It’s a difficult one because you don’t want mega fans gushing over their favourite games and giving them top marks but at the same time you don’t want someone who dislikes a particular genre reviewing a game they clearly aren’t going to enjoy. Alien Isolation springs to mind.

        In this instance I think the review is mentioning things that some players might not like (which is good thing) but giving it a great score overall because they personally enjoyed it.

        That’s why I like the review round ups. It’s always best to get a few opinions before deciding to buy/writing off a game.

      • “Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture makes the case that a compelling experience goes far beyond just being a good gameplay experience”

        Its not a game Amphlett, it’s a thing. Same as that weird PS Move thing, Datura. That was barely a game.

        There’s feck all “Game” in everything TellTale shove out, for 99% of the time you are sat watching and pressing X every 5 minutes to respond to a question.

      • Don’t you start on that “it’s not a game” nonsense.

        It quite obviously _is_ a game unless you’re going to start deliberately narrowing the definition of “game” just so you can say it isn’t one.

        Maybe if you’re a member of a certain vaguely defined internet hate group we probably shouldn’t mention. (They’re not keen on it either, obviously)

      • Its a game in the definition that it has a final objective, but it’s not a game compared to say, CoD, or InFamous. It’s more to do with the experience rather than slotting tab A in hole B, so the traditional “game” elements are less important when it comes to the score.

      • Is it a game or is it not a game? that my friend is the question!

        Not really fond of this “walking simulator” term that is bandied about, I rather the more conventional term “exploration game”, to me that’s what it is and I like it’s laidback approach to exploration. So I think I will pick this up eventually.

      • I’m completely with you with regards to the use of ‘walking simulator’. It’s a very narrow and lazy description of a method used for delivery of a narrative. A bit like calling The Witcher 3 a shagging and murder simulator. It’s a very nice diversion from shagging and murdering my way through Novigrad.

  7. I’m glad people are enjoying it.
    Played the game, finished it. Didn’t like, it just didn’t resonate with me. I like story heavy games usually.

    • So it’s short as well then?? ;)

      • If you take out walking simulation, you’re left with less than an hour of content.

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. A great diversion from shooting things in the face and stabbing things with my witcher sword. Music is wonderful, visuals are astounding and the atmosphere is engaging. The story which unfolds is also engrossing, though I’m a sci-fi fan and it is what it is. Has a lot of the Wyndhams about it. I agree pretty much 100% with the review and if this sort of thing is your bag you shouldn’t regret the experience.

  9. It would seem to me like an ideal candidate for the VR line up. Helmet on and off you go!

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