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Vanishing of Ethan Carter, The Review

Vanishing of Ethan Carter, The Trainer
Welcome to our CHEATfactor Game Review of Vanishing of Ethan Carter, The. We review the game and then factor in how the available cheats affect the overall game experience.
 

Reviewed on: PC
Developer: The Astronauts
Publisher: The Astronauts
Rated: "RP" for Rating Pending

 
CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki
Presentation 9/10 
You'll be free to look around the world and explore as you wish and that's a great feature when you'll be spending so much time standing still and admiring everything you see.
Gameplay 8/10 
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter doesn't ever tell you what to do or how to do it and while that may throw off some impatient gamers, those who stick with the game will find one of the best mystery/adventure games in years.
Lasting Appeal 7/10 
In the beginning you're going to stumble into a lot of your leads since the game gives no literally no direction but you'll be making good time once you realize how the game works.
Overall 8/10 
The way that the game doesn't hold your hand, the way it trusts you to make decisions more than most adventure games; this isn't a game for everyone, but if you like a great mystery and aren't afraid to take chances.
CHEATfactor 0/10 
 

Growing up in the southern part of the state, the more rural Northern half of Wisconsin was always a mysterious and ominous place. Friends would tell tales of paranormal events there third cousin (It was never a cousin you've ever met of course) experienced in the woods and it always seemed like a place where literally anything could happen. Maybe that's why I found myself so enthralled with the gorgeous world of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, the first game from new studio The Astronauts; it takes all of my childhood fears of the area and brings them to life in a remarkably entertaining and well paced mystery adventure. It takes a unique approach to gameplay that may not be for everyone but the game takes risks that can't be ignored, and rarely fail to impress.

"...just because you're too busy looking at the scenery."

 
   

Of course, the fictional town of Red Creek Valley where the vast majority of the game takes place is more of a caricature of midwestern values than any place I've ever been to in my home state, but it's one created with remarkable beauty. Jaw dropping draw distances, pristine lakes and rivers and incredible sound design make for a world that it's easy to lose focus in just because you're too busy looking at the scenery. Luckily The Vanishing of Ethan Carter gives you the freedom to explore the town,and the mystery that takes place within it as you wish. Even more impressive, you're able to go through nearly the entire town, from forrest to mine and everywhere in between without having to stop at a loading screen.

This isn't just a sightseeing game though, you'll play as Paul Prospero, a detective with supernatural abilities who's been charged with finding out what happened to the titular Carter and the rest of his family. You have the ability to look back into time and you solve the mystery by piecing together what you see and what you find. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter tiptoes around some pretty well known and over used adventure gaming tropes but to the developers credit, the story rarely ever goes down the roads you'd expect and manages to make some bold and interesting choices with it's story. There's a bit of a lull towards the middle half of the game, but I thought I knew where the story was going and was amazed when it went in the complete opposite direction.

"...giving you almost no direction..."

 
   

Right at the beginning of the game, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter warns you that it's a game that "doesn't hold your hand," and it proves it by giving you almost no direction and expecting you to figure things out for yourself. There's no HUD, no directional marker and no objective descriptions that flash on the screen; it's just you and Red Creek Valley. You have no on screen notebook or listing of clues on screen and it's up to you to keep track of what you find and piece everything together. There were a few sections of the game where I found myself resorting to a notebook and pencil to piece together clues that I found. It was almost exhilarating to have to dial back to my childhood like this.

The freedom the game gives you can be a bit of a downfall as well since Red Creek Valley and the mythos of the game are so large that you'll often feel like you're just sort of stumbling on to clues and it can be incredibly frustrating when you can't seem to find what you need to move on. You start to realize towards the middle of the game just what the game is looking for and it becomes easier to find clues but the developers have still thrown in a few curveballs that are sure to leave you guessing. This open-ended gameplay won't be for everyone, and it's sure to even turn a few people off from, especially in the beginning portions of the game.

From the moment I launched The Vanishing of Ethan Carter I was enthralled by it's mystery and the gorgeous world it created. While there were rare moments when the game seemed to lose it's muster, it was quickly picked up again and kept me guessing until the moment the credits rolled. The way that the game doesn't hold your hand, the way it trusts you to make decisions more than most adventure games; this isn't a game for everyone, but if you like a great mystery and aren't afraid to take chances, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter could be your favorite game of the year.

 
 
CHEATfactor
 

As of this writing there are no known cheats or achievements for The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. I'd love to see a debug mode that allows you to change just what information the game gives you; if even to get more people further into the game.

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