Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture is a first-person exploration game with a deep narrative. There is no combat, shooting, or jumping. This is truly an exploration game. It’s all about walking around and interacting with things.
The game takes place in the already quiet England town of Shropshire County in the 1980’s. Strange things start happening within the small town; birds fall from the sky, people begin to feel flu-like symptoms, other people begin to disappear, and strange streams of light start popping up all over town.
It is unknown who the player is whilst playing Rapture. During the game, you’ll travel through small towns, wooded areas, campgrounds, and countryside farmlands. The story unfolds as you progress through these areas. The goal of the game is to uncover as much as the story as possible, but it’s entirely possible to finish the game without doing so. Each area has golden orbs that direct you to important things in each area. The narrative is mostly told through activating specific conversations and scenarios, entering houses or places of business, and interacting with radios, telephones, and televisions. The only problem I had with the interior locations was that there just weren’t enough of them. Throughout the entire 6 or so hour story, there are only about 20 buildings which you can actually enter. It just felt really small, but it makes sense. The only buildings which you can enter are ones that are relevant to the confines of the story.
The graphics in Rapture are some of the best I’ve seen from a smaller dev team. Rapture has a strange sense of reality; the world feels very much like it actually exists. Because Shropshire County felt so real while playing Rapture, I started wondering if it was actually based on real towns in England. Each area has its own lighting and weather patterns. These patterns aren’t real-time; they just change whenever a new chapter of the game is reached. However, I noticed that the frame rate dropped quite considerably during areas where the trees would blow in the wind, moving their shadows in different directions as the sun hit against it. The graphics are so impressive that Shropshire County as a whole, feels like a real place, which in many ways, it is! Rapture also boasts one of the greatest video game soundtracks I’ve ever heard. The music fits every mood perfectly within the game.
Rapture has a Platinum trophy that involves playing through the game at least three or four times. I avoided going for the Platinum, and this is rare, but it’s because I felt that it would make me hate the game. All that slow walking, looking and listening to things. I really enjoyed my playthrough, and the last thing I want to do is hate this game.
Coming from the same team that developed a Half-Life 2 mod (Dear Esther) and Amnesia : A Machine For Pigs, I assumed that I’d encounter at least something at some point in this game. Nope. There’s more action in the narrative flashbacks than anything else. The ending was also very anti-climactic. Nothing happens, and much like Prometheus, I was left with more questions than when I started! If anything, the game leaves it up to your own interpretation of what happened, essentially. The pacing is frustratingly slow, but it works. It just sort of fits as you’re traversing around this eerie town. I get it. There is an option to walk a bit faster by holding R2 down for 7-8 seconds, but who wants to do that? Your finger will surely suffer from doing this for an extended amount of time. First-Person exploration games certainly have boomed lately. They really have become their own genre, and are becoming quite popular. Exploration games prove that great storytelling can exist without combative scenarios (some better than others). I feel that Rapture really only succeeded on half of what makes it so special and unique. Exploring the town in any order is fine, but the game falls short on discovering and telling the story. I just think retelling the story through a bunch of glowing lights isn’t helpful to me. If I can’t see or differentiate between them, how am I supposed to have empathy for these characters? I understand that these flashbacks are of people who no longer exist due to what happened, but it would have made more sense to at least show them and then fade out. The problem that I have with this is that I can’t relate to what I can’t see. Having more enterable locations that fit along with the storyline would have been nice. For a map that’s quite large and filled with places to go and things to explore, this made the game feel empty. I also didn’t understand all the British lingo. Those are really the only problems I had with the game. Rapture is a unique experience. I’ve played some other exploration games, and this is definitely the best I’ve played. It may seem like I’m giving the game a lot of flack, but Rapture is actually a great game. I loved my time with it. It’s not bad, it’s just different. It’s worth experiencing, at least once. Here’s to hoping DLC is made down the line that will further explain the phenomenon, and help answer some questions.