I don’t understand Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

When it comes to critically acclaimed and/or very popular games that I happen to not like, they’re usually divided into one of two categories. One is the category of critically acclaimed and/or very popular games that I don’t like, but fully understand why so many would find great enjoyment in them. It’s a matter of taste, after all. But then there’s games that are critically acclaimed and/or very popular, but I’m just baffled by the situation and can’t understand what people find in them, and how come they say what they say (it’s still a matter of taste, but it doesn’t make me any less confused). Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is that kind of game.

First, let’s get out of the way things that I do appreciate about it. It’s beautiful, no denying that. The atmosphere of a mysteriously deserted little town was implemented very well. Visual and audio cues in the environment are very smartly placed, prompting the player to go to them. That’s about it.

Whenever you read a positive reaction to Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, it’s mostly about how much depth there is to the whole experience. And… I think somebody needs to blatantly point it out to me, because I just don’t see it. Let’s take thatgamecompany’s games, for example. Like Journey. Or not even Journey, let’s take flOwer.

flOwer has depth. There’s no direct narrative, and the gameplay is very meditational and one could call simplistic (you basically just fly around), but the way the level selection menu evolves, the level design, the environments… all that provokes thoughts, which might differ between people of course, but it adds depth.

What depth there is to Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture? And this is a genuine question. Because as far as I see it, this is a game that desperately tries to keep some intrigue by providing a deliberately abstract and obscure mystery, and lets you try to piece it all together through viewing a bunch of random memories that are supposed to tell dramatic arcs that turn out to be more, for the lack of a better word, melodramatic than anything. And then in the end explains the whole mystery in an obscure, inconclusive and incoherent way, because you can’t really tie up this kind of set up in a concrete manner.

So the whole thing is… eh? If you like the game, all power to you, but unless somebody describes in detail why they like it, I will keep staying baffled regarding the whole thing. And I really mean ‘in detail’, because all feedback and reviews are really vague. I guess that’s to not spoil anything in the game, but it doesn’t help. Because right now to me Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is frankly a kinda pretentious mess. So if you happen to stumble upon the post and will be able to help me move the title from category #2 mentioned in the beginning to category #1, I would really appreciate it.

Thank you all for reading. Feel free to leave any comments below. If you’d like to keep an eye on my future blog posts, feel free to follow me on Twitter

Posted on November 22, 2016, in Games and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I mostly enjoy Rapture for a) a beautifully atmospheric recreation of the English countryside, post rapture, reminiscent of a more peaceful When the Wind Blows and b) A simple story based on a variety of character’s interconnections and relationships, told geographically instead of chronologically. The joy comes not from any gameplay, but from seeing how the characters interact.

    The ‘rapture’ plotline was always going to be unsatisfying. It’s not really set-up as a mystery of where everyone is, that’s advertised right in the title. It would always be a bit of a Deus Ex Machina. So the focus is on the human plots, like how Kate is settling in the unwelcoming village, driving her to isolation, driving Steven back to Lizzie, or how Jeremy helping Mary end her life, leading to Wendy’s growing resentment of Frank and others. It might be seen as melodramatic, but I at least found it engaging enough.

    I can see where the frustration lies though, there’s not really anything to do per se, beyond look at the pretty graphics and listen to the plot (though there is occasionally some nice visual storytelling).

    Much like Dear Esther really, just soak in the atmosphere and try to piece together some kind of narrative, leaving certain things deliberately ambiguous to provoke further thought.

    By the way, love all your AC content 🙂 Was that ACII Sequence 10 post ever going to come out?

    • Thanks for the comment and feedback. I’m afraid to reread this particular blog post now because I think in retrospective, even though I still can’t say I enjoyed the game, I was pretty harsh on it. So I’m going to save myself the embarrassment and not do it 😀 To be honest I dislike Dear Esther too. I can’t say I dislike “Walking Simulators” though, for example Proteus was weirdly compelling.

      Heh, the ACII Sequence 10 post 😀 😀 😀 I had it half-written and then somehow abandon it and didn’t come back to it.

      I can just do a quick rundown of the main problematics with Sequence 10:
      – A huge set of repetitive missions in a row that were also present not that far behind in the game – save a person, save 3 groups of mercenaries (we did the same thing with thieves just not long before that), clear 3 areas (something we did before the flying machine mission a short while ago as well).
      – That set of repetitive missions is concluded with something AC2 couldn’t handle well – big battle setpieces.
      – And not only did the setpieces look awkward as hell, the missions continued the Carnevale sequence’s trend of not allowing to kill Dante Moro for arbitrary reasons until Dante Moro is allowed to die (speaking about the part where you’re forced to get his health to 0, have him escape, and then kill him in the same mission).

      So, there 🙂 Blog post done! 😀

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