|Noting more peaceful than the great outdoors...|
Every once in a while a game comes along that I just want to root for. Ethan Carter tackles fairly non-traditional subject matter, making it more akin to Gone Home rather than BioShock in the world of first-person immersive sims. The developer, a group of folks called The Astronauts, previously worked on games like Bulletstorm and Gears of War: Judgement, so it's nice to see them branching out. They also have a great website where they post about everything from their technical approach to the YouTube influence on game sales.
What I like most though is Ethan Carter's juxtaposition of the natural and supernatural. The world feels quite normal until a portal to another dimension opens up. This portal is rendered with just as much care as any of the game's trees, giving it a sense of magical realism that few games have. Odd as it sounds, I don't think many games take advantage of their innate ability to insert unexpected events into simulations of the real world. It's either full on fantasy or a slavish devotion to verisimilitude. Ethan Carter does a good job of mixing the mundane and the magical in a way that reminds me of Papo & Yo, one of my favorite game's of 2013.
I don't want to say too much more because experiencing it is very well worth experiencing the game without a lot of foreknowledge. The game boldly declares that it won't hold your hand within the first few seconds and this ends up being a great thing. It forces you to pay close attention to the world, which makes its magical elements all the more impressive.