There’s an old adage in fiction writing: Show, don’t tell. Developer The Chinese Room does just that and more in their non-linear storytelling game, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. You aren’t told where the inhabitants of the small English village of Yaughton, Shropshire have disappeared to, but rather must unravel the mystery by exploring a beautifully detailed and desolate open world.
Seemingly guided by a mysterious, ever-changing ball of light, the player walks through what looks to be an abandoned town in the UK. The residents of Yaughton, Shropshire appear to have just up and gone, leaving their homes, cars and other personal belongings behind. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Here is a key moment in action.
While I won’t be revealing any of the plot, as that could spoil the game, I will be discussing how the game progresses. There are six acts throughout Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Each act is focused around one of six residents that lived in Yaughton. There is a young pastor, a mother, an uncle, an ex- fiancée and two scientists.
As you explore the town, you’ll come across several key moments from these people’s lives leading up to their…leaving Yaughton. You cannot interact with these scenes in any way, as they have already happened days, weeks or even years before the game’s beginning. You also cannot see what the people in the scene look like. They are always embodied in shimmering light. Once the moment is over, you set out to find the next. The final scene in the act always shows how they left the town. The next act starts shortly afterwards.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed via the screenshots, the world of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is gorgeous. It is gamer eye-candy at its finest. The care and attention to detail put into Rapture can be noticed in the leaves on the trees, the abandoned vehicles throughout town and every empty home. But this game has more to offer than just its good looks. The soundtrack for Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture by Jessica Curry, is mind blowing. Several times I found my self wanting to play just to hear the music. The voice acting during the scenes are also done well. For those interested, the sound track can be purchased on Amazon and iTunes. Not many games can boast about that.
I really liked Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, but I did have a few complaints. For one, while the world is very detailed, there isn’t much to do in between walking from scene to scene in each act. Exploring the empty village is interesting but not super exciting. You also walk realllllly slowly. Moving around in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture reminded me of sailing in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker; it’s an inefficient way to travel but a large part of the game nonetheless. And while I did not mind the ending, I did wish the game was a bit longer (and cheaper) as I knocked it out in 6 hours even. That includes my time exploring and getting lost.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
A Walk to Remember
Plot - 9/10
Design - 10/10
Gameplay - 8.5/10
Soundtrack - 10/10
The unique and rather surreal experience of Rapture provides its players the chance to bond with the townsfolk by learning their story and understanding their hardships despite their inevitable fate.
That to me is the best kind of storytelling. Definitely pick this one up. (But maybe wait 'til it goes on sale first)