On Tuesday the 12th of May, we had the opportunity to present in front of the Bachelor students in Game Design of the ZHdK a game of our choice and explain how the story is stagged or how is the narration done. I chose the Vanishing of Ethan Carter, because it was a game that was taking the dust in my Steam library.
My first game session of 2 hours was mostly about discovering the environment and contemplate the wonderful work in terms of graphics, even better that a lot of AAA games. I felt immerse in Red Creek Valley, where the game takes place. I even ignore the first corpse I see to go on my exploration of the game. Finally, after one hour and half, I solved the first narrative puzzle.
You’re playing a detective with para-normal superpower. You can connect with a corpse, find clues and, like a detective, discover how the person went on being a corpse. That is the only way that the story is told, because the Vanishing of Ethan Carter begins: “This game is a narrative experience which does not hold your hand.”
Unlike Dear Esther, the narrator does not tell a back-story and does not tell much. He is putting the player in the mood of Red Creek Valley. The narrative puzzle consists of a sequences of events that the payer has to put in the correct order to discover what happened. A lot of reviewers criticized that it was to easy, but I found it enjoyable. I didn’t had to think to much, but I had the same feeling as a detective, discovering the story.
In conclusion, the Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a new step in the genre of narrative-exploration game and one of the best game of 2014.