Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
ESRB: M for Mature
The overwhelming excitement I had when Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture was announced was tangible. I had watched the trailer on several occasions, seen the interviews and checked out the screenshots. What I had hoped for was a game that would tie in the biblical idea of the Rapture with some obviously fictional narrative. What I ended up with; was a beautiful game, with an incredibly confusing story, and 5 hours of my life that I can’t account for.
It’s 1984 in the Village of Yaughton, in the Shropshire countryside. You don’t know who you are, why you are there, and there is no one around to answer your questions. You immediately hear a looped recording playing over a radio. As you make your way closer to the sound and press the “X” button to activate the radio, you hear a snippet of a story from a young woman mentioning some testing being conducted at the nearby observatory. From this point on, the virtual world is yours to explore. As you make your way around the village you find circulating beams of light that emanate a deep bass-y rumble. Upon approaching the light, you become audience to bursts of energy reenacting parts of a story from the past. How long into the past? It’s difficult to say. There has been some conflict with the villagers and the scientists living in the town, but the underlying story has yet to be discovered.
Spiritual: It’s initially unclear where the people of the town have disappeared to. There seems to be some contention between the town’s priest and some of the townsfolk. However there is nothing of biblical or spiritual value to be had throughout the game.
Violence: There are some scenes of reenacted violence while you are watching the energy bursts relive some time of their past.
Language: There are a few instances of adult language, namely “sh$%” and “f#$k”.
Sexual Content: There is a reenacted story implying adultery within the narrative of the game.
The simplicity of the game is refreshing. As some have called it a “walking simulator,” it’s not far off from the truth. You spend a majority of your time walking around, discovering the aforementioned energy bursts. The only button you will use is the “X” button to interact with the radios, telephones, and light switches. One can gradually walk faster by holding down the “R2” button, however this is never once mentioned in Rapture and I only discovered this feature after finishing the game and reading about it on the internet. Having to walk slowly around the map was frustrating most of the time, and the only reason I forced myself through the game in one sitting was because I anticipated something interesting to happen. Unfortunately that moment never came, and I inevitably ended the game disappointed and confused.
The environment in Rapture is beautiful-some of the best graphics I have seen in a game. I was incredibly motivated to see absolutely everything within the game. The small details within each home made it feel like there was a lot of thought and heart put into the design. Cars were lined in random fashion throughout the town, and houses abandoned in lived-in condition at the moment this “rapture” took place. Signs of a quarantine adorned the shops in the town, alluding to some sort of pathogen that had struck the villagers. Most of the map was available to explore, but the outer boundaries were blocked off by law enforcement vehicles and sawhorses, giving the illusion of a town that was completely sheltered in. Even the water effects in the small pond mid-town were entrancing. More games should look the way Rapture looks.
Everything I wanted to love about this game failed to meet my expectations. In the 5.5 hours it took to complete, I felt like I was constantly waiting for something intense to happen. The story that was told through the energy bursts and radio loops was sporadic and vague. I began to grasp some of the story, but by the end of the game, I put down the controller incredibly confused by what I had just experienced.
Perhaps the burden of understanding Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture lies more on the intellectual side of science such as physics that I just didn’t have within me. Some of the references made were well above my head, and while I had a desire to actually know the story being told, I just couldn’t grasp it. I felt the same way I felt during the finale of Lost: I think I had an idea of what was going on, but it was too ambiguous for my taste and you, dear reader, may feel the same.
The Bottom Line
As much as this game could have been a great suspense story, it falls short in making clear what the story is about.