It’s safe to say that I never thought I would experience Shropshire countryside in a video game. But you should never say never, right? Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a first person, non-linear (if you don’t want it to be) story from developers The Chinese Room.
You begin outside the gates of an observatory. Nothing to cause panic other than some news about ‘The Event’. As you start to move around the picturesque setting, you see abandoned cars, you hear numbers calling from the radio drawing you towards it to listen to a message. You soon realise that you are alone in this place as you walk down an empty road. The phone in a phone box rings and you answer. And then you see the light. This light shows you moments in the lives of the townsfolk. It starts to tell you what happened in this place. At first, I was waiting for something or someone to jump out at me, but as I followed the light and watched these stories I relaxed and felt oddly at ease as tried to make sense of what was going on. There are a few individual stories to walk through, all ending in a beautiful and haunting night sky showing you the stars in all their glory. I was quite happy to just enjoy those moments and leave them on the screen for a few minutes before moving on.
Although the story is not linear, you can choose to just follow the path the light leads you on. But it’s always worth taking a few moments to stray off the main roads and head down a public footpath where you will find the remains of the ordinary lives the residents had prior to this event taking place. Cigarettes still burning, barbecues smoking, kids toys and tea cups left on tables and benches. Gardens are tidy. Dog house have no inhabitants. There is nothing living here. Even dead birds litter the roads and public footpaths. All sign of life has gone and the radio and phone talk about the light taking over. But there’s no need to be afraid…. is there?
The controls are basic. Press X to open/close/turn off and on and R2 to build up speed at times. It also utilises the gyroscope functionality as a way to trigger certain instances. The trophies suggest you should be able to cook things, read books and note down numbers but I couldn’t do any of these things (even with the working controller) so I’ll try and figure these out on my next play through. The lack of lots of buttons to press isn’t a bad thing. If anything it just makes you appreciate the sights a little bit more. Which you really should. Considering there is physically no one around, you can hear echos of the world before the event happened and everyone disappeared. Secret conversations, arguments and some signs of everyday life passing by during a crisis. The soundscapes and graphics are stunning and you really cannot resist a walk down a public footpaths into the farmers fields just to have a look around. It is beautiful and I’ve heard from a couple of friends from that area that it looks exactly the same.
I thought I might find the light annoying after a while, but it will follow you if you stray too far off the path so just be prepared to turn around and for it to dash off somewhere beckoning you to follow. Depending on how you play, you could wander around and accidentally finish the game quite quickly or you could take 4 or 5 hours to wander around taking everything in. I finished it in around this time myself and enjoyed every minute of it. You can try to make sense of the reason for it all early on and you may be right in your conclusions but it is worth continuing through and seeing what happens.
I won’t give anything away and want to keep this short but if you fancy a couple of hours of something easy going, then this is a perfect way to spend the time. I like the story, as although a little eerie, it has been done beautifully. When I purchased it at release, there was a PS Plus discount, so if that’s still going you should take advantage of it, otherwise you can pick it up for £15.99 and take a walk though Shropshire…. usually people tell you to stay away from the light but on this occasion I would urge you to follow.