I came home from my holiday in Germany to find out Everybody's Gone To The Rapture is out.
So what better way to follow up my previous post than to have played it, then post my thoughts on it?
I would overall say it is a wonderful game. Very engaging, the story interesting and the mechanics very simple and intuitive. At the very end, I actually wanted to cry.
As mostly British actors were being used for the voice performances, I was very glad of the local talent being used. Mind you, the way they spoke reminded me of The Archers. I suspect the majority of their voice acting experience comes from radio, which might explain their somewhat artificial-sounding performances.
Either that or it was done on purpose. One of the better things this game does is make you consider what was likely or not likely done on purpose. As mentioned in the previous entry, the game has you following balls of light, almost looking like shooting stars. But whenever you get near them, you hear a cacophony of voices filtering through radio static. Now that bit was done on purpose, since radios and telecommunication in general plays a big role in both uncovering the mystery of what happened...well I can't explain the second bit, that's a massive spoiler. However, a different radio has a different audio log by Kate, one of the characters. So I can't help but wonder if radio voice actors were giving their performance to correspond with this motif, but it's a bit distracting as the characters' movement and actions are being portrayed by light figures, so...shouldn't they sound like actual people in a conversation?
I'll dive into a few more of the problems, they're only minor but they can be nagging ones. I loved seeing butterflies and bees flying around but I hated the way that nature looked so fake and like cardboard cut-outs. I admit they do in most games but...most games are third person so you don't notice as much. Here I can't help but wonder if they missed a trick. They also play with light in...interesting ways, but that's more the style of the art and presentation more than anything else. I also found it bothersome that there were no photos of people, I only ever found photos of vehicles, buildings or places. This really bothers me because...well, if the game really can be interpreted as taking place inside another dimension or from a character's POV, then featuring no photos of people whatsoever can be a possible stylistic choice. But considering how well real people's houses are reconstructed and random bikes, suitcases and plates lying around as if people had just abandoned them (and they had) being believably presented...the lack of portraits really bug me.
The way you interact with the beams of light can also be troublesome at times. I mean, the game leads you to believe that a ball of light will always stand still when it wants to "show" you something. That's sometimes the case, e.g. if it hovers outside a house, you are meant to go inside and see the snippet of conversation play out. At other times it will hover side-to-side and expect you to "activate" an important memory by tilting the pad to the right. The annoying thing about this is sometimes you have to hold it a very long time, other times you are unable to activate it as long as you stand too close. Don't worry, this game is not the type that constantly holds your hand. After all, some places the light disappears for ages and you simply find yourself exploring all the possible places and seeing conversations play out. Said conversations also happen out of order. But I don't know what to think of the fact that it wasn't always obvious how you "properly" finish a character's arc. The intention is that you see the climactic scene, usually depicting their death and then you walk through a corridor of stars...sorta. I missed 2 of these. I had explored every area possible, as far as I could tell, and I was unable to see where I should go for the "finale". While in some areas it was bloody obvious. Seriously, couldn't that tannoy ordering me to the main hall never shut up?!?!???!!
I am not so certain if I can readily recommend this game, beautiful music and all (oh yeah, I sometimes wanted the music to stop playing, only because it was demanding a tense situation that didn't exist). Looking up opinions online, it seems this game really divides the consumer base. Some people really hate it and see the game as a plodding bit of hard work, involving walking really slowly and finding logs, telling a story that is dull and makes no sense (some even admitted to activating subtitles because they couldn't tell the characters apart). So the fact that I got invested in the story while others see no story...I don't know. Is it down to personality? How well people recognise others? I'm really not sure.