The Dose: ‘The Vanishing of Ethan Carter’ isn’t scary

The Dose: ‘The Vanishing of Ethan Carter’ isn’t scary

The Dose: ‘The Vanishing of Ethan Carter’ isn’t scary
August 18
18:48 2015
[df-subtitle]For what could have been a terrifying tale about an author trapped in his mind, this game falls flat.[/df-subtitle]

Ryan Roiz | Contributing Writer

@roizenberry

Platform: Windows, Playstation 4

Release Date: July 15, 2015 (PS4)

Developer: The Astronauts

Price: $19.99

‘The Vanishing of Ethan Carter’ will not keep you up at night.

Billed as a horror/adventure title for Windows and PlayStation 4 platforms, this short, indie game leaves too much out and a lot to be desired. The open-world crime thriller is sparse, segmented and confusing, burying the story beneath pretentious barriers.

Story

The game is in pieces. The stories you encounter, if you are lucky enough to come across them, seem to have no ties to each other, even as the main story comes to a close.

1403798924-the-vanishing-of-ethan-carter-key-art

In regards to the game’s genre, the only thing remotely ‘horror’ in this game is in the mine section, where the player encounters a ghost man whose story ends with the world flooding and a sea monster being unleashed. So, there’s that. It’s more of a mystery game than anything.

Despite being a horror/mystery title, there is no reveal at the end of the story and all of the clues you come across point to one conclusion. It’s like “Hey, Prospero was just another one of Ethan’s stories he was writing while he died in a smoke-filled room.”

So we’re left wondering: How much of the game is in Ethan’s head?

It seems like everyone wrote their ideas for the game in separate rooms without consulting each other on how it all ties together. You experience all of those things in a sequence of your choosing, or whichever one you can actually find at the time.

The flashback sequences were witless and poorly written. Maybe if the ghosts were real-life manifestations of Ethan’s family haunted by the fact they had killed each other, it would have been scary.

Gameplay

To start, the game has no hint system. It would have been beneficial from the get-go to have something to base your exploration on instead of being left to fend for yourself in a grassy wasteland.

The world is linear, but does a good job of playing to open-world strengths. There is way too much looking around, and knowing how the pieces fall together, the game could have been beaten in 30 minutes.

In a level design perspective, the game wasn’t dark enough. Respect to the developers for trying to make a horror game set in daylight, but more mineshaft exploring or tomb raiding would have felt more horrific.

ethan-carter-ps4

Also, to those who have played the game: the spaceman thing. Why? Why go to space? Why is there an astronaut here? What does it contribute to the story?

“Ethan wrote it!”

Oh wow. He also wrote about an old man who avoided death by fire by coating himself in sap. Oh wait, that doesn’t apply to the story either.

Photos | The Astronauts

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