A BUCOLIC END
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
IT’S OH SO QUIET Who knew that a quiet, idyllic English countryside could evoke an eerie, yet illuminating journey into a world without people? The folks behind (original mod and 2012 remaster) and
seem to think so, as their latest release – the delectablynamed
– attempts to propel the burgeoning ‘walking simulator’ genre forward through a more open, interactive approach, in which the player is free to explore the beautifully-realized Yaughton Valley in an effort to unravel the fragmented narrative that survives the apocalypse.
As a first-person walkabout experience, Rapture encapsulates everything that the genre is about – from its peculiar doomsday premise and disrupted storytelling, to its minimalistic gameplay and picturesque landscape. Powered by Crytek’s CryENGINE, the game looks amazing for the most part, even bordering on photorealism at times, made possible through the use of dynamic particles, real-time global lighting and
OCTOBER 2015 shadows, as well as little touches in the day/night and weather cycles. The meticulous attention to detail extended to the plants and foliage that are native to the region, immersing the player further into a fictional locale that could very well exist in the real Shropshire, England, circa 1984.
Given that is best enjoyed with as little knowledge as possible going in, we won’t go into the ‘whats’ and the ‘whys’ behind the disappearance of the townspeople, but suffice to say that there are clear conclusions to be drawn by carefully sweeping one area to the next and piecing together the seemingly disjointed audio clues. These are discovered by listening to the radios, answering public phones, and stumbling upon snippets of conversations past as re-enacted by ghostly apparitions of the townsfolk. Dialog fragments – touching on love, fear, prejudices, and regrets – are backed by quality voice acting, and a stirring orchestral score by BAFTA-nominated composer Jessica Curry.
Along the way, the player will come across wisps of light that dart and dive through the empty streets, hay fields, and abandoned campground. By following and interacting with them at certain points of interest, this will then trigger memories that shed light on the events leading up to the titular cataclysm. We took our time to explore the surroundings, which came up to about eight hours from start to end. IT’S NOT ALL ROSY While it’s certainly ambitious, there were times where could have benefited from more interactivity, such as being able to read passages from books or letters that are strewn about the town. The open environment, while impressive, is not above pop-ins and obvious repetition of in-game assets. But the one thing that really took us out of the experience was the fluctuation in frame rate when the wisps and light-filled figures come into the picture. Other than that, is one work of fiction that you won’t soon forget.
TESTED & RATED
Follow the light…