The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (Xbox One) – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure, Indie
Developer: The Astronauts
Publisher: The Astronauts
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: Xbox One

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (Xbox One) – Review

Site Score
8.7
Good: Graphical prowess, Story, Atmosphere
Bad: Short, Can't complete the game if you missed something
User Score
10.0
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 10.0/10 (3 votes cast)

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was a rather peculiar title that was released back in 2014 for the PC and a bit later for the PlayStation 4. Sadly, Microsoft’s home console never received the Ethan Carter treatment and was left out in the cold. Luckily, the game has now been ported to the Xbox One, and also received graphical updates making the game exquisite in a 4K setting. While we already reviewed the original release, we didn’t mind wandering through this story-driven title once more, just for the sake of digging up the past, and reminding everyone that this title is out there.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

Story

Like mentioned in the first review, it’s hard to talk about the story portion of the game, without spoiling anything. You’ll be playing as Paul Prospero, who seems to be a psychic detective, who has been receiving letters from Ethan Carter, a young boy that seemingly has gone through a lot, and is requesting the renowned detective for his help. You arrive close at the place Ethan calls home, but you have no idea if you have made the journey in time, or if all is lost before you even start your investigation.

It’s easy to say that The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a real story-driven experience, that, if you like to explore thoroughly, is a beautiful puzzle that’s slowly coming together, even though the game is rather short. There are ten main scenes to complete, and it’s hard to recognize where one begins or when one ends, but it’s advised to properly explore and keep track of your achievements, as you won’t get to the credits if you haven’t completed every segment of the story. Of course, given the length of the game, it’s easy to backtrack, but the latter can be annoying if you forget a story portion at the beginning of the game, and have to waddle all the way back.

Ethan Carter 1

Graphics

Back in 2014 this game was a delight to look at thanks to the luscious forest environment you found  yourself in, the caves you have to explore, the buildings that are left behind and other interesting features the game had to offer. Now with the 4K enhancements, the game looks astonishing, even on consoles that are often called dated or inferior to a PC gaming rig. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is simply amazing, and outside of the exploring you’ll have to do for the story, you’ll occasionally want to diverge from the paths laid out for you to explore and see what the world has to offer, or simply stop and look around to the sights that the game tries to throw at you from start to finish. The overall green, yet decayed setting is astonishing to say the least.

Sound

Paul Prospero sounds like a real 50s detective which immediately sets the tone for this game, especially when he’s muttering to himself about the conclusions he’s drawing from the clues that are being laid out in front of him. Other than that, there’s limited voice acting from the characters you’re investigating but all of it is beautifully executed.

The music itself isn’t that much present on the foreground, as it’s more atmospheric. For the most part you’ll be hearing the sounds of the environment rather than an actual soundtrack to accompany you through the game. When inside buildings, the sound from the outside gets drowned out, making some buildings rather eerie to explore, seeing you’ll have to do so in near silence.

Ethan Carter 2

Gameplay

At the beginning of the game you’ll see a short message pop up that the game is a story driven experience that doesn’t hold you by the hand, and this can’t be more true. You’ll be playing this glorified walking simulator with point and click elements from start to finish, without any proper structure or aid from the game whatsoever. You’ll have to determine where one ‘chapter’ begins, and where one ends, all while trying to limit your exploring, as going too far might make you miss story elements you’ll need to actually complete the game. If you’re in for the story experience, without too much hassle, there are more than enough guides for this game, but the exploring part of this game will certainly please most fans who want to complete this game by themselves. That being said, not all puzzles are logical, or are easy to find for that matter.

You can assume when you can interact with items, they are important for the story, as you’ll only be able to interact with clues for your investigation, safe for an item or two that are simply placed inside the game for achievement purposes. Other than that, go nuts, explore, interact, and when you complete certain sessions correctly, you’ll be treated to what went on at that location. For the most part, the game is straightforward, but the puzzles aren’t always in the same train of thought, as some clues are hard to find, hard to combine or simply feel a bit farfetched for a beginning puzzler.

Ethan Carter 3

The game is not only impressive because of the smoothness of the controls, and almost no limitations safe for lakes, cliffs and rocks that are too high, but also because there are no real loading times in this game. The latter means that once you start up the game, you’ll be sailing rather smoothly from start to finish. While the map isn’t all that big, you can still roam around for a few hours without ever encountering a loading screen. Those playing without help, or those who want to do some extra exploring will still complete the game in a matter of hours. Those playing with a guide can finish the game in about two hours if they’re only doing it for the story experience, or simply want to play through the fairly epic tale that defines The Vanishing of Ethan Carter again on this newly improved version.

Conclusion

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is truly an experience for thrill seekers, story enthusiasts or fans of the somewhat bizarre. While the game is short, the graphical prowess and the story make up for a lot, and also define the overall experience. While we jokingly stated that the game is a glorified walking simulator, the game is a true experience that will please many fans of peculiar detective stories. If you haven’t had the chance to play this one before, or had a crappy PC setup when it was originally released, you should consider picking up the Xbox One version.

Ethan Carter 4

 

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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (Xbox One) - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Ibuki
Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

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