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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (Xbox)

Developed by The Astronauts, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was initially released back in 2014 on Steam (currently £14.99) followed by a release on PS4 in 2015 (currently £15.49). It has finally made its way onto Xbox One and is available now for £15.99.

As always, I will attempt to avoid any spoilers throughout my review.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is essentially a walking simulator where you can explore Red Creek Valley and all its mysteries. You play as Paul Prospero, a detective who has the ability to communicate with the supernatural world as well as the real world. A young boy called Ethan Carter has sent a letter indicating that he is in some serious trouble and you’re going to try and help him before it is too late.

One of the first things that I noticed about The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is just how beautiful it looks. An incredible amount of detail has been put into not only the surrounding environment but also into the smaller objects such as photographs (I’ve had a few moments where I thought the photographs were real) and letters.

The sound effects are wonderful, from the soft thuds of your footsteps to water drops, I found that The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was atmospheric and often had me on the edge of my seat waiting for some kind of monster or paranormal being to jump out at me from the bushes (which inevitably, never happened!). At times throughout the game, there were short scenes which would playout telling you more about the story and what had occurred. The voice acting was believable and helped me to become more immersed in the story being told.

There are a few different elements of the game including finding clues to solve murders, cracking codes and a few puzzles around Red Creek Valley. Some are more complex than others and depending on how much you are paying attention to the game, will likely take a while to figure out. In order to progress, you do need to explore as much of Red Creek Valley as possible otherwise you’ll find yourself quite literally at a dead end.

When solving murders, you must find the body then find all the clues associated with the murder. It will prompt you to touch the body and once you’ve found the clues needed, you will be transported into the “other” world. Here you need to investigate the chain of events that happened and then tag them in chronological order which will then show you the murder from start to end (not graphically, of course). I really liked this part of the game and found it a very interesting feature as I felt a little more invested in what happened that I think I would have been if I hadn’t had to figure it all out for myself. The puzzles aren't overly taxing so long as you're paying attention and if you get stuck you can always retrace your steps to try again from a different angle. 

The controls are very simple and will only really need to use the A button which interacts with the words you see and RT to run when you’re fed up with walking. I haven’t had an issue with the responsiveness of the controls as there isn’t anything overly taxing to ever need to do. Apart from one time with a dead guy who chases you… but don’t worry, you won’t be let down by the controls! Thankfully, there is only one part of the entire game that is “jump scare” and once you’re through it you don’t have to worry anymore! I am a bit of a wuss though so maybe it's not an issue for most people.

Overall, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an interesting and intriguing game to play with a story that genuinely surprised me at the end. If I had to give it a score it would be 8/10. My only issue is that for the price tag, I wish that there was more content. I was going through the game fairly slowly and still managed to complete it in just a few hours. Aside from this, it is a lovely little game and I would recommend playing it.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter has 14 achievements available for a total of 1,000 Gamerscore. The majority of the achievements are progression based and will be unlocked through natural gameplay. There are a couple which can be missed though, as they require some exploration off the beaten track so to speak. A pretty straightforward, quick completion for those of you who are achievement hunters! If you need any help or guidance with any of the achievements, then head over to True Achievements where you will find plenty of useful information.

A game code was provided for the purpose of this review. Thank you!
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