If you were to take a trip to your local library, or even journey to the theater to see a film, you would instantly notice one thing in particular: we’re a society obsessed with the post-apocalypse. A majority of our books and films revolve around this subject, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but one can’t help but wonder what it is about this theme that attracts so many people.
Perhaps it’s the fall of society that intrigues us. Finding out what lead to a world’s demise and how the remaining survivors navigate their new existence is definitely a fascinating concept. There’s also the unrelenting action and brutal violence, spiking the adrenaline and gluing you to the edge of your seat. Then there’s the introspective side, forcing us to look at ourselves and wonder how we would act if faced to live under those harsh conditions. Could we provide for ourselves and our families? Would we be able to cope emotionally?
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is definitely a quieter look at the apocalypse. You won’t find any crazed bandits, armed gangs, or people eating dogs in this story. Instead, we’re given a more realistic and somber approach to the end of the world. This is a story about love, loss, and obsession.
The game takes place in the fictional village of Yaughton, which is located in the real world setting of Shrophshire, England. The two main characters of the game, Stephan and Kate, are married scientists who discover a strange living light in the stars above their town. As they try to make contact with the light, a deadly sickness takes over the town and slowly infects and kills every last living person. This might sound like heavy spoilers, but I assure you it isn’t.
From the second the game opens, to the moment the credits roll, you’re virtually alone. Despite the tranquil beauty of Yaughton, there’s a very eerie sense of isolation and dread permeating throughout the village and its surrounding areas. The streets are empty, the homes are vacant, and you’re left to piece together the final days of the village and its inhabitants.
There’s a glowing ball of light that travels around the game, directing you to the locations where the biggest clues and story beats await, but you’re able to ignore it and fully explore as much of Yaughton as you desire. As you poke around through the village, rummaging through the citizens homes and possessions, you’ll occasionally come across other sources of light that act out the story for you. The light will take the form of the citizens and reenact moments from their final days, all while allowing you to hear the words spoken by and between them. There’s a wide cast of characters, and it’s a little difficult to keep track of how everyone relates to each other (friends, family, coworkers, etc.), but it becomes easier to follow the longer the story goes on.
The game does a great job of making you care for these characters and wanting to know more about them, regardless of the fact that you only ever see them as outlines of light. Some standouts are Father Jeremy, the town reverend struggling with his faith in God; Lizzie, a woman unsatisfied with her marriage; and Wendy, an older lady who speaks whatever’s on her mind. As you piece together the story and the connections between characters, you’ll gain a deeper understanding on what life in Yaughton is like. While a few arcs aren’t as memorable as others, they all serve a purpose in one way or another, usually having a tie-in to someone else’s story.
However, it’s not just the story and cast of characters that are intriguing, but the world itself as well. This is a world that feels wholly realized and is full of countless detail. Everything from the little pieces of junk on countertops, to stains on carpets and furniture add to the sense of realism. There’s also the incredibly gorgeous vistas both in Yaughton and its surrounding areas. There’s acres of farmland, beautiful woods with hiking trails, and even a massive summer camp on the outskirts of town, complete a wonderful view of the lake. The majority of your time with this game is going to be spent walking around and exploring the environment for clues and story pieces, so it’s great to have such a beautiful world to do those things in.
Unfortunately, this beauty is somewhat marred by the most atrociously slow walking speed I’ve ever seen in a video game. As much as I hate the term “walking simulator” and find its use to be demeaning, it’s sadly an apt description for Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. You move at a turtle’s pace, making navigation a chore, which is such a shame since there’s so many interesting sights to see and clues to discover. You can hold the R2 trigger to gain momentum, but the increased speed is barely noticeable, like going from 5 miles per hour to 7. It’s a letdown to see something that catches your eye off in the distance and then spend five agonizing minutes walking (slowly!) to your destination.
On the plus side, the long walks are made somewhat bearable by a masterful soundtrack that’s equal parts mesmerizing and haunting. Let me give you a sample.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a different, but welcomed, twist on the post-apocalyptic genre. Falling more in line with a biblical interpretation of the end of the world, it lets you experience the final days of a small town and those who live within it. It’s an emotionally touching and thoughtful game, one full of great characters and an incredible story. Likewise, the world it lets you inhabit feels oddly full of life, despite the fact that all life has left it. Accompanied by a highly memorable soundtrack and stunning visuals, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a fresh and original experience that’s only marred by a slow movement speed.
– Zack Burrows