Review: Everybody's Gone to the
Rapture.By Francis Cook
Developed by The Chinese Room, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture sees the player exploring what appears to be a recently abandoned idyllic English village trying to figure out where everybody's gone. Spoiler: they've gone to the rapture. (On a serious note, this review contains plot spoilers).
Our character begins the game leaving the observatory. The only ways of interacting with the world are by exploring, turning on radios, opening doors, and tuning mysterious lights. These actions reveal moments of time in the village and provide clues as to how and why everybody has disappeared.
The game is ridiculously pretty. It's gorgeous in fact. The village is rendered in minute detail, so well-crafted it could pass for the real thing. A sparingly employed soundtrack of orchestra and choir underscores the journey which heightens the melancholy atmosphere. Unfortunately the beauty wears thin as the game descends into rather boring narrative.
As we discover how the village and its inhabitants met their end, we also find out more about their lives and personal struggles. Stephen, a scientist, returns to the town after a prolonged period of time with his American wife Kate. They both work in the observatory where Kate eventually, inadvertently, summons the four horsemen of the apocalypse. People in the village seem to have not liked Kate. At one point we discover she was black, pointing to an underlying racism among some residents.
Stephen is set up with his old sweetheart Lizzie and they start sleeping together again. The narrative drags on with this banal plot point for far too long.
Indeed, the whole game is let down by the banality of the English middle-class village tropes. There are scenes which would slip quite comfortably into an episode of Coronation Street or Midsomer Murders.
There are only two characters with dimension; Kate and Wendy. Fortunately, Kate's words dominate much of the game. One scene involving Wendy stands out as the best in the game. Stephen, Frank and Charlie are absolute drips. I don't know what these ladies see in them! Stephen in particular has some absolute clunker lines.
The game moves at a slow pace, which at first is nice, but ultimately frustrating. I took pleasure in looking at each poster and residence looking for more clues at the beginning, but eventually realized there isn't much to find that the game doesn't telegraph to you. Balls of light direct the player toward progression through plot development, but will sometimes behave erratically, leaving you to backtrack, slowly, over large areas. I found out after playing there is a secret sprint button. Secret because the game never tells you. However, it apparently doesn’t help much.
My initial wonder and awe in the game soon turned to annoyance. I would zone out and check my phone when Stephen began moaning. The overarching plot, however, drove me on to the end. Despite it all, I still wanted to know what happened. Sadly, the ending sees Kate talking vaguely about the cosmos and spiritually like a first year philosophy student leaving their first lecture.
There are mysteries I didn't uncover in this game, not because I don't have time, but simply because I don't actually care. Given that so much of the game bored me, I don't see myself getting an “aha!” moment out of it anytime soon. It’s a sad let down that a game that looks and sounds so wonderful could have such vapid story to it.