Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Fleeting Sense of Presence in 'Everybody's Gone to the Rapture'

At least we'll remember where we parked.
This week on PopMatters I slowly crawl through Everybody's Gone to the Rapture.

Yes, it's easy to take shots at the game's movement speed, but it's a good symbol for Everybody's Gone to the Rapture's overall shortcomings.  Everything looks very lifelike, but the moment you start interacting with the world things start to fall apart.  You're a person-sized entity with person-sounding footsteps interacting with some objects in a person-like way, but you move like a weird Ken Burns camera.  It's frustrating and detracts from moments that would otherwise be exciting.

There are certain flashes of brilliance, especially when it comes to the sound design.  Aside from Metal Gear games, I can't think of another game where I've paid more attention to every small noise.  Hearing the muffled phone ring from inside the house when you're walking past it seems mundane, but the fact that it's tied to understanding the game's mystery and that the game doesn't explicitly guide you too them make them feel special.

A host of little details foster this same feeling: clouds briefly drifting across the sun, backyard toys, suitably-cluttered garages.  Everything looks like it was a place humans inhabited.  Then you realize that half the doors are inexplicably locked, the bike sitting against the tree can't be used, and the people you're following don't seem all that angry about the world ending.

It's a shame, because every once in a while Everybody's Gone to the Rapture makes you feel like you're experiencing a lived-in world.  Unfortunately, the feeling is fleeting.

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