Have You Played… Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

I’ve a love/not-hate-but-something-gentler-in-the-general-ballpark-of-disappointment relationship with Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, The Chinese Room’s follow-up to Dear Esther.

I lost myself to its setting – not merely the beautiful, floral countryside, but its light-dark heart, a well-to-do British village that simultaneously screamed kindness and intolerance for anything that was not just like it. I have visited these places, I have lived in these places and I have left these places in favour of the less idyllic but the far more cosmopolitan.

To revisit its painstaking recreation of a certain set of values, to admire its prettiness and its gentleness and its smallness and its time-lost perpetuity, was wonderful. And, best of all, I could do it without risking being drawn into an enthusiastic conversation about fox hunting or scorn about the ethnic make-up of the nearest city, which was a near-constant risk during my own time in the countryside. I like people, but it’s always a gamble – as such, getting to see a place without people is a rare and precious privilege.

But, of course, there was a story. It was not a bad story and it didn’t get in my way too often, and it too had a few things to say about the mutated Christian values of the people who live forever in these places, but it was still there, forcing the strange mix of memory and imagination that was born of wandering a silent, unpeopled village down one particular path. I preferred the more dissociative storytelling of Dear Esther, though it shares with Rapture a not always natural fusion of the lyrical and overly-literal.

But I’m so glad this thing exists – the idea of a highish-budget walking semi-simulator set in a small English village is effectively unthinkable now, as we seem to have left the age of more contemplative and experimental breakout hits, for the time being at least. I do not need to chase the flying lights and hear their stories: I can just go to the pub, wander the church grounds, traipse through rapeflower fields and revisist places I miss but would never again wish to live in.

30 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Something about this makes me want to move to some rural English area and just be offensively American for no reason.

    I’ll even write things like “tires” and “color”.

  2. James says:

    No, I haven’t.

  3. demicanadian says:

    Is this that game that “will never be released on pc, this is an PS4 exclusive, get over it” ?

    • SigmaCAT says:

      on a pc gaming site? im not quite sure.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      Wikipedia shows it was exclusive for a few months yeah. But it’s on PC now, so I’m not sure complaints are warranted.

      • Daymare says:

        The thing is, I followed Rapture’s development pretty much from when it was still a bunch of ideas about an exploration game that lasts a specific amount of time until the world ends, up to which point you could move around and try figure out what’s happening.

        And I distinctly remember the time when Sony took The Chinese Room under their wing. And I remember TCR writing that it would just come out on the Playstation. Did they maybe phrase it in such a way that the possibility of it coming out on PC existed? Perhaps. But at the time they made it very, very clear that it wouldn’t.
        link to thechineseroom.co.uk
        There’s this old blog post, which in hindsight reads like they were open to multiplatform, but I’m pretty sure it was either edited or they posted something similar somewhere else. Mostly because I also remember them writing something along the the lines of “the PS4 is great and there’s no better time to get one than now!” which pissed a lot of people off because it sounded a bit … advertising. I can’t find this part either.

        I remember all this very specifically because at the time I had no Playstation and wouldn’t have considered buying one. After absolutely LOVING Dear Esther I was excited to play whatever new game they’d develop, but buying one for just this single game was a no-go.

        And while yes, it came out on PC half a year later, there were three years of development until release where not a word was spoken about it ever coming out on PC. It was announced shortly before its Steam release with very little fanfare.

        Maybe I remember all of this wrong … but what reason would I have?

      • Daymare says:

        Addendum: My personal opinion of the game is that it suffered from a few bad design decisions that made the experience much worse than it should’ve been.

        The walking/running was really slow, almost everyone complained about it. It just got more annoying the longer I played.

        Having all characters be golden swirly bits might’ve saved tons of animation rigging time, but that made it absolutely awful to follow their stories, because while the characters sounded different, they all looked the same. If, like me, you took pauses between playing or walked around, you had absolutely no idea what was going on and there was no way to rewind them. It was listening to an audiobook that someone had shuffled some chapters around a bit, left out some pieces and randomly put 10 min pauses in between.

        Then on the other hand the music was beautiful, the stories were bittersweet and I really dug the ending. And it looked quite wonderful, what a setting for a game! Glossing over all those positive aspects just amplifies how terribly those few decisions weighed the game down for me; I enjoyed it, yes, but I had to force myself to enjoy it repeatedly to finish it, almost a year after it came out.

    • Premium User Badge

      Aerothorn says:

      No, and the developer never said anything remotely like that?

  4. Giaddon says:

    “The idea of a highish-budget walking semi-simulator set in a small English village is effectively unthinkable now, as we seem to have left the age of more contemplative and experimental breakout hits.”

    Nah, we got What Remains of Edith Finch, Tacoma, The Fidelio Incident, Scanner Sombre, Blackwood Crossing, Leaving Lyndow, and probably a bunch of others, all this year. Not all hits, but certainly contemplative.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Neurotic says:

    It’s been on my Wishlist for a thousand years, but I hesitate to buy it simply because I suspect the emotional connection will be overwhelming for me (he said, having emigrated to Poland 15 years ago to escape just such places).

  6. Chorltonwheelie says:

    Played it straight after getting a 1080.
    It’s a lovely thing indeed.

  7. RichUncleSkeleton says:

    One of the most boring, pointless, and above all repetitive digital experiences I’ve ever had. I know the old joke about walking simulators not being “real” games is considered trite and tedious around these parts, but in EGttR’s case, it’s unambiguously true. It has no gameplay to speak of. The buildings you “explore” are all made from one of maybe three different pre-fabricated floor plans, filled with the same stock textures and art assets. There’s no sense that the town could ever be any sort of real place where real people lived. The story is… who the hell even knows. It’s the kind of thing where you say to yourself that the creators should have just written a book, but I doubt it would fare any better as a book.

    • Henry Sarson says:

      Completely agree after playing and finishing it two years ago I have had some time to reflect on it. I was only “enjoying” it at the time because i had just spent 30$ + on it.

    • poliovaccine says:

      “The buildings you “explore” are all made from one of maybe three different pre-fabricated floor plans, filled with the same stock textures and art assets. There’s no sense that the town could ever be any sort of real place where real people lived.”

      Being perfectly fair, I spent my adolescence in the American version of one of these pleasantvilles – a New England suburb – and I gotta say, my primary gripe with the place was that it pretty exactly matched this quoted description. Every house on my block was built on the same floor plan, by the same guy/s, and going into a neighbor’s house was strange as hell because of that. Didnt help the whole paranoid feeling of creeping podperson homogeneity haha.

  8. LearningToSmile says:

    Played? Yes. Finished? No.

    The slow walking pace was okay for the first village part where I could clearly see and plan out all the places I wanted to go, and didn’t have to backtrack a lot – but once I entered the more wooded areas and started becoming paranoid about missing pieces of narrative, it became a chore.

    I get where they were going with it, but I don’t think it belongs outside of pure walking simulators with just scenery and no story, and maybe ones that limit you to linear paths.

    • Henry Sarson says:

      Agreed not implementing a faster moment speed for example jog, is not encouraging players to take there time it is taking away there choice of how to play

  9. GallonOfAlan says:

    I played it on PS4 when it was a PS Plus freebie.

    I enjoyed it a lot, had great echoes of Pertwee and Baker era Doctor Who, and other 1970s weirdness like Children Of The Stones. Strange goings on the sleepy English countryside. It’s very meticulously designed and evocative. The best part for me was the exemplary soundtrack.

    If you go into i expecting ‘video game’ you’ll be disappointed though.

  10. Wintermuter says:

    I like people, but it’s always a gamble – as such, getting to see a place without people is a rare and precious privilege.

    Beautifully said! Hell, it might even motivate me to revisit and finish this game, despite the enforced slow walking pace.

  11. and its man says:

    Well to put it simply, my own love/not-hate-but-something-gentler relationship with The Chinese Room comes from the amount of bombast they tend to put in their games.

  12. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    I liked it – a negligibly interactive British folk-horror radio play with glorious music composed by Jessica Curry.

  13. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    Alec – I moved in reverse from Streatham to Shropshire. Not from any Brexity impulses but because London is too damn expensive and relentless after 40. I love the quiet beauty and the Chinese room nailed aspects of it

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