The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Xbox One X Review

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter isn't a game for everyone, instead, it focuses on a satisfying a specific type of gamer

By Grayshadow, Posted 15 Jan 2018

When you start The Vanishing of Ethan Carter a message appears "This game is a narrative experience that does not hold your hand". That one statement sets the pace for the entire game as you solve mysteries and uncover the dark secrets hidden beneath the beautiful town of Red Creek. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter isn't a game for everyone, instead, it focuses on a satisfying a specific type of gamer. One who enjoys puzzles and exploring an open world without any guidance. 

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You take control of Paul Prospero, a detective who received a letter from a young boy named Ethan Carter asking for help. The detective makes it known that others have ignored the boy's cries for help but he didn't, instead, he has made a career of taking cases that sound unbelievable. Quickly Paul finds out that this town has had a series of strange murders and bizarre happenings.

You're not given many directions of where to go or what areas are important. Instead, tiny clues litter the environment such as traps, blood, and bodies that hint to the possibility of a case that needs solving. Paul can use his sense ability to paint a description of what happened and give the direction of key items. Once you've collected enough evidence you can trigger a flashback. It's here that Paul must chronologically sort through the memories to construct a timeline of what happened and further his investigations.

The game is presented as an open world experience but is treated as a linear adventure. You can tackle the cases in any order you want but the game has a very clear order of which to complete them. If done out of order you'll have to do a lot of backtracking. 

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The directionless gameplay can become frustrating at times. During my first playthrough, I wasn't sure if a case was limited to a finite area or where to exactly go to finish mandatory objectives. Considering the speed of which Paul runs and the large world you can find yourself traveling for long periods of time just searching for the right area. It does help that the game looks breathtaking and the soundtrack complements the atmosphere and gameplay throughout the adventure. With the exception of the start screen, there are no loading screens throughout the adventure. If you want to explore the world without worry about cases you can choose the free roam option.

Cases involve locating key items, understanding the crime scene, and putting everything together through visions. You feel like a real detective, searching the environment for critical clues and putting together a story of what you discovered. Each case uses the same mechanics but the execution of unique settings within Red Creek and the promise of new information of Ethan's disappearance kept me hooked until the credits rolled.

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It's clear that the developers had a vision when making The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, a solid single-player narrative where the player was given a little direction of how to uncover the game's mysteries. The story provides an excellent mixture of supernatural occurrences and mystery to keep players hooked. The directionless gameplay can be vexing for some and exciting for others. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is for those who love no restrictions and given absolute control of where they want to go; to figure out what's happening without any regulation. If that sounds like something you would enjoy then you'll adore The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.

Adam Siddiqui, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): The Astronauts
Developer(s): The Astronauts
Genres: Adventure
Themes: Horror, Mystery, Detective
Release Date: 2013-12-25

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