Game Reviews

‘The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter’ Review: Despair Has Never Looked So Good

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Quick Take: If you missed The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, now is the best chance to play this creepy, fantastic game. The Xbox One X presents the game better than any other, and makes it worth playing again.

It’s hard reviewing a game that came out almost four years ago, but just recently made the jump to the Xbox One, with Xbox One X 4K enhancements. In the case of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, the creepy Lovecraftian mystery has already been experienced by those who wish to play, so what else can I say about the game? It’s still a superbly crafted mystery that refuses to hold the hand of the player, while presenting them with a story with many unique layers. Why even bother trying to review it now, four year later? Two words: Gorgeous visuals.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter has come to the Xbox One, and it is fully enhanced for the Xbox One X’s high-def 4K capabilities. Some might shrug at that, but seconds after booting up the game, the graphical differences were evident. This game world, a small town in Wisconsin, mind you, is stunning in almost every way. In fact, I will say that The Vanishing of Ethan Carter on the Xbox One X is one of the best looking games I have ever played.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Review

The lighting effects from the late afternoon sun bleeding through the trees that line the countryside just boggle, and the detail on the environmental items, like the spines of books scattered on desks in burned out houses, look incredibly life like. Developers The Astronauts have completely outdone themselves with the enhancements made here, and though the story isn’t as fresh as it was years ago, it still warrants another play through just to experience this vibrant, near photo-realistic world.

As a refresher, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is the story of an occult expert and private investigator named Paul Prospero, who receives a mysterious letter from a kid named Ethan Carter. Prospero has a precognitive gift, and can see things that others may miss. He is intrigued enough to seek out Ethan in his little town, but then stumbles into something bigger — and scarier — than he could have ever imagined. The story not only challenges Prospero’s perceptions, and his very existence, but that challenge bleeds over to the player as well. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is one of those games that transcends the title of “just a game” and makes the player think about what they just saw and participated in. That’s rare in any form of media, and this game does it so well.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Review

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an open world game, which has a definite path — if that makes any sense. Players will solve puzzles that they come across, but there’s no indicator of why we are doing it. There are no sign posts, and the puzzles rarely offer any explanation. Trial and error are all the player really has, but some of the puzzles, like maneuvering though a house with strange portals, or getting an old rail car to work again has a purpose. You just might not see it until later. It’s masterful storytelling, without even trying to tell a story. In my first play through, the things going through my mind as I traversed Ethan’s home town were spookier than what I saw on my screen. And I think that is all intentional.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Review

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter has never looked better, and now that it is on the Xbox One, a new audience can find and play this wonderful, gorgeous game and experience the twisted story of Ethan Carter and his family. This new version comes with a free roam mode, which allows the player to just explore this gorgeous landscape without experiencing the story. Games like this don’t come around too often, and when they do, they deserve to be lauded with praise. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter deserves the praise it has received and when you play through it, you will see why. And if you have already taken the journey, there is no better time to do it again, now on the Xbox One.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is out now for the Xbox One, with 4K enhancements, and the PS4.

 

SCORE: 4.5 out of 5

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