Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture offers a familiar type of game for anyone who has played developer The Chinese Room’s previous titles like Dear Esther or Amnesia: a Machine for Pigs. Like those games, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is about exploring an interesting or peculiar location, however, it is much more ambitious than the aforementioned games. Sometimes to a fault.

As far as premises go, the setting of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is an enticing one. Everyone is gone, and it’s up to the player to explore the world and discover the mysteries it holds. The setting is a small village in England during the ‘80s, and the only thing that seems distinctive about the town (obviously besides the fact that there’s no people and lots of glowing lights) is the six observatory towers for studying astrology.

At a snail’s pace — unless you happen to accidentally hold down R2 for seven whole seconds to begin a sprint — I proceeded through the barren environment. Houses were abandoned, cars left with doors wide open in the middle of the street, and there are few clues as to what might have happened here — sans the occasional bloody tissue proving that someone had once lived here.

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Thankfully, there’s a lot to look at in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. The village is pleasantly represented using the CryEngine, and while not quite as near to photorealism as some of the more notable games make use of it, the environment possess a warmth that most other CryEngine games lack. If this village was populated, it would seem like a very welcoming location.

The entire village is open to explore with the only guide being a mysterious orb of light that guides you from place to place. I fully recommend following this as much as possible, since straying from the path could mean missing story elements that make Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture’s plot even more convoluted.

[Editors Note: The walking speed in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is near unbearable, and the lack of any indication that there’s a sprint button is inexcusable. Hell, the weird mechanics behind the actual sprinting option are inexcusable. Moving around became frustrating at times when the game makes you backtrack for seemingly no reason. Having discovered the option to sprint after finishing the game feels insulting. Being forced to crawl around such an open area, where you can see the entirety of the beauty that surrounds you, kind of sucks. While this negatively impacted my experience, it doesn’t have to for others. So please, run around. You might find more enjoyment than I did.]

The story of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is split between several different narratives. The cast of characters actually becomes too much to handle, and I often found myself forgetting who someone was, or why I should recognize them. Only a select few are easily remembered, since their stories happen to either be the most striking, or they’re just more central to the overarching narrative. And this is where Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture begins to stumble. There’s too much happening to too many people to keep it all straight — especially since there’s no faces to match up with the voices, only a silhouette of swirling light that is unidentifiable between others.

“The cast of characters actually becomes too much to handle, and I often found myself forgetting who someone was, or why I should recognize them”

And this is a shame, it really is, because the voice acting is top notch. Like any small village, there’s a strong sense of community, but also quite a bit of drama. Word travels fast, so there’s few secrets in Yaughton Valley. This naturally causes lots of conflict amongst the inhabitants, but also stirs up some inner demons. Faith, morality, relationships and more are tested in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, and the voice actors portray each scenario with expertise. It really doesn’t shy away from attempts to evoke emotions from the player.

And I felt emotions; I had more emotional responses to Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture than all but a few games, because it is so good at moment-to-moment storytelling. The majority of conversations that I voyeuristically listened to were poignant, or otherwise evoked some kind of emotion. But as a whole it just didn’t fit together.

Voice acting isn’t the only aspect of design where Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture demonstrates a level of excellence, and I would actually say that its score even surpasses it. Have you ever been alone in a small town, away from civilization? No people and cars means there’s not much noise besides the occasional buzzing of a fly or rustling of a bush from a small critter in the village. So it’s up to the game’s music to carry the player’s interest much of the time. I often felt like I was listening to the soundtrack of some big budget blockbuster rather than something in an indie game. The score and sound effects matched up perfectly with the acting as well, intensifying my feelings many times — especially in its more somber moments.

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Sound is also used as an indication that you’re following the right path or are stumbling upon the chance to listen to a new story element. Scattered throughout the village are radios and phones, which either endlessly buzz the same pattern of numbers or emit a harsh ringing that is eerily juxtaposed with the usual silence. Interacting with them usually means that you’ll experience a moment from either of the two main characters’ lives, or possibly listen in on a person speaking about them. The jarring noise of the phones or the eeriness of a fuzzy radio are discordant compared to the rest of the game’s sounds — which usually encompass more of an off putting yet pleasant melodic or choral tone — or even jarring measured against the occasional absence of noise all together. I wouldn’t exactly call Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture a horror game, but there’s times when I was unnerved by the audio.

The entire time, roughly 5 hours, that I spent wandering around I was motivated by the mystery of what happened. Having reached the end, and reflected back on my time, I feel like I was dragged around for a few hours. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture hypes up its mysterious premise, but then it falls flat under its own weight after failing to provide any meaningful conclusion. It has a multitude of stories to tell, some of them incredible, but trying to piece them together ruins the actual joy of experiencing them. It was brave to create an open world with an overarching narrative that is by no means linear, and it’s even well supported by other aspects of design that Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture absolutely nails. But in the end, the puzzle pieces of this game just don’t really fit together.