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Everybody's Gone to the Rapture Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . The Chinese Room has created a gorgeously realized world and a compelling mystery. While those looking for anything resembling action will be bored by the experience, I was fully raptured by the story and performances. Unfortunately, the Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is marred by an unstable frame rate and a few questionable design decisions. Rating: 64%
Everybody's Gone to the Rapture
Everybody's Gone to the Rapture Everybody's Gone to the Rapture Everybody's Gone to the Rapture Everybody's Gone to the Rapture
  • Review Score:

  • B-
Thanks to the untimely passing of David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Prince, death has been on my mind a lot lately. It seems like a day can't go by without another brutal reminder that life is fleeting and we should make the most out of every day. I think that's why I was both excited and wary of Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, a game steeped in the weighty topic. And while this brand new Steam release is definitely not for everybody, I now feel a little better about taking my final breath.

Set in the mid-1980s, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture takes place in a quaint village community in rural England. It's an agricultural area, far away from skyscrapers, strip malls and fast food franchises. Surrounded by nature, Yaughton is an ideal place to raise a family. Everybody is looking out for one another and it's far removed from the troubles of the world.

Our experience in Yaughton is different from most. We arrive in town after a tragedy has caused everybody, including the animals, to disappear. It's an eerie sensation, as if life simply stopped. We see half-finished work, cars parked in the middle of the streets and countless empty houses. It's so bright and peaceful, almost as if everything is right in the world. But it's not, and there's a dark cloud of uncertainty looming overhead.

Those looking for fast-paced action won't find any here, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is a deliberately paced interactive story built on exploring the valley community. Apart from the title, we're given no information before entering Yaughton. It's up to our nameless protagonist to wander the streets looking for clues and piecing the mystery together. People hoping for a moving science fiction story will find a lot to love in this first-person journey.

Although you will pick up a lot of information from ringing telephones and audio diaries, most of the story is played out through a series of memories. It seems that remnants of the past still linger in Yaughton, and we're able to watch the town's final moments before the tragedy strikes. This gives us a unique insight, seeing each person grapple with their own mortality, regrets and faith. We learn that this event happened in waves, so much of the game revolves around how the community reacts.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The story follows several key characters, each uncovering a new puzzle piece that makes the mystery a little clearer. We start with Father Jeremy Wheeler, a local parishioner who has seen his faith rattled by the recent events. Not far away, Frank Appleton runs a local farm and is trying to come to grips with the passing of his wife. Lizzie Graves runs the Lakeside Holiday Camp, and she is not sure how to react when a former flame comes to town. That man is Stephen Appleton, and he may know more about what's going on than he's letting on.

Each of the six main characters is represented by a ball of light that flies through the air and highlights the important points of interest. Along the path we will see bits and pieces of conversations, always represented by a series of lights engulfing what used to be the body with a ghostly aura. Once we've located all of the story beats, we'll see what ultimately happens to that character and move on to the next.

While a lot of the conversations will simply happen around you, there are key moments that will require triggering. Some events are hidden inside these tiny glowing dots floating in the sky, which means you'll have to open up a rift to let them out. You do this by moving the analog stick back and forth until you locate the exact frequency, and then the light show begins. For what it's worth, this mechanic represents most of the gameplay found in Everybody's Gone to the Rapture.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

As compelling as the story is, some gamers will be disappointed there isn't more to do. This game hopes you'll be invested enough in the mystery to want to look through every building, backyard and hiking path for clues. I was, but still wish they had developed real puzzles to go along with the wandering around. That said, the valley is expertly crafted and fully realized, so I largely enjoyed poking around every nook and cranny.

Beyond the story-heavy gameplay, I found myself frustrated by the game's structure. Because the valley is so large, the developers have that floating ball of light guiding the way. This makes the path feel a lot more linear than it should, and the constant hand-holding took me completely out of the experience. But even with that light guiding the way, I managed to get lost looking for the last few remaining conversations.

This brings up another problem. While lost, I discovered that there is no manual save, so you're at the whim of the auto-save functionality. Unfortunately, the auto-save didn't always work properly. I wandered around for more than an hour trying to trigger the save, fearing that I would come back and lose a lot of progress. For a game designed to be explored at your own pace, the stringent saving seems antithetical to the theme.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

And then there's the frame rate, which fluctuates more than Nintendo's stock price. I'm not sure what frame rate they were going for, but there are times when it grinds to a crawl. This seems to get better once you get out of Yaughton proper, but Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is never very smooth. Although the world the developers have created is jaw-dropping, it seems to be at the expense of performance.

But even when the technical were at their worst, I still wanted to keep going and see the story out. The Chinese Room has crafted a compelling mystery with incredible performances. I love that it expects you to pay attention and piece everything together, and all I wanted to do was talk to others about what it all means. Even with a powerful ending that will likely stick with me for years to come, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture can't overcome the many structural and technical problems.
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