John was jolly pleased with The Vanishing of Ethan Carter [official site], enjoying its pretty puzzle-solving but damning its backtracking and lack of saves. Well, many wonky bits are now better and some already-nice parts too, as developers The Astronauts have released a big free remaster update.
The Vanishing of Ethan Redux is technically a separate game, not an update, bumped up from Unreal Engine 3 and remade in Unreal Engine 4. The new version brings a new save system, faster loading of the world, visual tweaks, and more. It’s out now free for everyone who owns the game on Steam and GOG.
You should find the new version sitting in your Steam or GOG library as a separate game. The new Unreal Engine 4 remaster has the game loading the world (almost) seamlessly as you move around, rather than hanging every now and then. However, this makes it more demanding on systems, and it’ll want a 64-bit version of Windows on a PC with 6GB of RAM. If you can’t play that, hey, don’t worry – you still have the old version. You’ll miss out on some other tweaks too though.
While the original used infrequent checkpoint saves – much to John’s frustration – The Astronauts explain that the Redux “simply saves the state of the whole world right after most player actions”. The backtracking players could face at the end of the game is gone too, with the devs saying “Let’s just say that we believe the problem was fully eliminated in the Redux version.” I could not tell you quite how they’ve done that, and don’t especially want to look into it as I still haven’t got around to playing Ethan. Also tweaked is a section they say some players found “too scary and/or too exhausting”.
What motivated this? Well, this is built on work put into the PlayStation 4 version, as Unreal Engine 3 does not play nice with PS4s. So they rebuilt it. They’ve said that they’ll look into “how much work” Mac and Linux ports would be once the PC Redux was out, so maybe we’ll soon find out whether those will happen or not.
They also note the Redux has “literally hundreds of smaller tweaks and updates to the visuals”, which are “probably not something a lot of people will notice” but nice to have. Here, watch this trailer and see if you can spot them – though if you haven’t played it, do be warned that it appears to show quite a few story bits: