Every once in a while a game comes along that transcends what is expected of it. Something special, something that can in it’s own right be considered by some to be art. ‘Everybody’s gone to the rapture’ is one of those games.
Developed by The Chinese Room, the indie developer behind the PC hit ‘Dear Esther’, in association with Sony who secured the game as an exclusive for the PS4. It is a story set some time in the 1980’s in the fictional Shropshire village of Yaughton, a village that has been completely deserted, save the character you control. There has been some kind of event, something has happened that has made the entire population of the village disappear. All you have to go on are eerie radio transmissions that appear to be Yaughton’s residents holding conversations and ethereal balls of light that pass around this idealic locale seemingly taking on the forms of people when focused on revealing more of what happened in this sleepy hamlet. The game revolves around 5 distinct areas and in each area you piece together the story of a character and what happened to them. It isn’t a very long game, I think my first play through clocked in at about 6 hours but it is about the right length so as to not overstay it’s welcome. I can say that it is 6 hours well spent.
This game completely nails its setting. I am a Shropshire lad, born and bred, the design of the village of Yaughton and its surrounding area could easily be a village in Shropshire. It helps that The Chinese Room have obviously done their research, with mention of Shropshire landmarks such as the Stipperstones featured in some of the meticulous background detail, not to mention the fact that the game is astoundingly beautiful. Bare in mind this game is developed by an independent studio, they have created visuals to stand up there with the big boys. The sense of time and place really is startlingly realised and coupled with one of the most beautiful game scores I have ever heard by Jessica Curry, who also won a Gaming BAFTA for her work, you can’t help but be drawn in to this world.
It isn’t however, a game for everyone. I can’t imagine there would be much interest from the COD and FIFA crowd, this isn’t a game you play as such but more one that you experience. It may be described by some as a ‘Walking simulator’ a term I detest as there is so much depth to this game and it’s world, to trivialise it is to do it a massive disservice. Yes, It requires no real skill but more a sense of exploration that is rewarded with more of the brilliantly written back story being given to you, in many way it is quite cinematic.
I would recommend this game to people who fancy a good story and setting over thrills & spills every once in a while, or just to people who may want to try something a little different. It is cliched, but this is a game once experienced, is never forgotten.
Everybody’s gone to the rapture is available now through PlayStation network.