Hello, everyone. I come bearing some extremely depressing news. The rapture’s happening soon, but not to us. Hm, well jeez, when I phrase it that way, it doesn’t sound terrible at all. What I mean to say is, Dear Esther developer thechineseroom’s next non-Amnesia game, the super fascinating Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, is no longer coming to PC – at all, for the foreseeable future. Sony’s nabbed it for its burgeoning army of indie exclusives, so I guess that means it’s not allowed to love us anymore. I reached out to thechineseroom’s Dan Pinchbeck, and he confirmed the bad news.
Truth be told, I went in expecting to come away marking off days on my calendar until a period of timed exclusivity was up, but no such luck. When I asked if everybody who matters – you know, PC gamers – would eventually go to the rapture, Pinchbeck offered a brief, unfortunate reply: “No, it’ll be a PS4 exclusive.”
[pullquote]We don’t have the money or production expertise to make this game without help.[/pullquote]
That’s a terrible shame, because the Dear Esther successor (aka, the “Thur Sesser Detester” if you try to say it five times fast) is looking terrifically intriguing. In short, you explore a small town just 60 minutes before some snarling cataclysm leaps from a bush and bites existence in the ankle to death. Various characters spend their final hour in different fashions, and you can either watch them search for peace in the panic or interfere by way of exploration and physical interaction.
I queried further as to why we’re missing out, and Pinchbeck was refreshingly frank:
“So the thinking went like this,” he began. “We don’t have enough money or production expertise to make this game without help. We don’t think we can raise enough through Kickstarter or public alpha to make this happen. We could do with production support on a game this scale. We’ve always wanted to make a console game. Publishers have bad reputations all too often. Hey, Sony Santa Monica are great though. We’ve met them a few times and really like them and their attitude.”
“Also, PS4 is starting to look very cool as a platform. All eggs thrown into singular basket, Sony Santa Monica contacted, everybody likes each other, lots of love for the project. Long dark night of the soul mulling over implications of shifting across to console. Mix of pragmatism and excitement about the possibilities win out.”
But what of thechineseroom’s loyal supporters on PC who – among other things – sprinted the first-person walk-‘n’-talker’s sales all the way up to “well over 750,000”? Pinchbeck and co are perhaps more aware of their fan base’s mighty contribution than anyone, and they’re incredibly grateful. But they saw a chance to branch out and create an otherwise impossible project. They couldn’t say no.
“Dear Esther fans were very much in our thoughts, but enough of us are multi-platform gamers to make this work for us,” explained Pinchbeck. “And we’re in this for the long game, so I can’t see us not returning to PC, or doing whatever we can to keep that fan base as we owe them a great deal.”
“But part of that is following our instincts about how we develop and find stability as a studio and this is going to be part of the process. And without sounding like a bought man, the PS4 is genuinely a really, really cool platform, and if people have never bought into console gaming before, this is the time.”
Which makes perfect sense given the position thechineseroom is currently in, but still: I was really looking forward to Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture. Now my brow is crinkled and my shoulders are slumped. This definitely isn’t the end of the world, but it kinda feels like it. Blargh. Well, I guess let’s just wistfully sigh as we take a brief glance at what we’re missing.