1984, Shropshire (England), Yaughton Valley. Something mysterious happened… something that you as the player need to find out while exploring the now deserted towns. The inhabitants have literally vanished, disappeared without leaving a single trace behind. Your only clue is a bunch of floating orbs of light, swimming in the air and guiding you through the valley’s untold story. Telephones and radios still holding registered reports, pieces of the tale you need to reconstruct to solve the puzzle. This is what Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is about, an Indie title developed by The Chinese Room and SIE Santa Monica Studio, released for PS4 in 2015 and PC the following year.
Note: Travel Journal is a new series I’m introducing and its purpose is to highlight all those games that allow you to walk around freely and let you enjoy the environments without any sort of UI element, map or marker for a more realistic experience.
In this game the player will have a perfectly clear view of the silent surroundings; breathtaking sceneries with nice terraced houses, warm sunsets, farms, forests and tree-lined roads. Since there is no map available you’ll have to carefully inspect every area and interact with your findings without a designated destination.
Yaughton is a pretty huge level and it’s quite easy to get lost and miss things/achievements, orbs of light passing by and leading you to some specific trigger points essential to proceed with the plot. Each orb seems to contain a memory about the incident and various events that took place even years prior, light streaks forming human-like figures from different timelines.
The game is split in 6 parts and the story rotates around two specific characters, Stephen and Kate, who work together at the Vallis Observatory to decode patterns written in the stars and uncover astronomy theories.
Not only you will get to see remnants from their life as a married couple and the people involved in it, but also how they tried to keep what caused everyone’s disappearance at bay, being responsible for releasing this new Pattern they found one night during a celestial alignment. However, all their efforts proved to be useless as the Pattern spread outside the Observatory the moment Kate tried to amplify its power offering more light source from the other towers, generating a weird desease similar to brain cancer that took people away one after another in a short amount of time.
This led to a necessary quarantine with blocked roads and cut telephone lines, isolating the valley completely to prevent a larger damage.
Despite the deadly nature of this “Spanish Influenza” there isn’t a single corpse to be found around apart from those of dead birds. The more you uncover the truth about the people who used to live in Yaughton before your arrival, the more things get inexplicable and wrapped into a paranormal phenomenon.
In fact, it is explained by one of the goners that “liquid light” was present in their blood during one of the common bleedings, even telephones and TV cables held some danger in the area. A direct contact between indivuduals was no longer necessary to get infected, contrary to what was previously believed. Judging by the memories you see through the light, the ones affected faded into shiny particles and dissoved in the atmosphere when death approached.
Kate tried to study this pattern and learned soon after that it actually “responded” to her with a clear sign of life (she mentions it feels alone). She also had to cope with the fact Stephen cheated on her with his ex lover Lizzie (present in one of the chapters), while already feeling out of place for being American and thus considered an outsider in the valley.
Both Kate and Stephen got burned on the face by the light’s radiation through the telescope and were marked on their face by the same butterfly shaped scar. This is actually what started it all; the couple being the carrier of the Pattern before it learns to adapt and spread all over the valley through telephone lines.
The weather and atmosphere switch the more you proceed with the story and unlock a specific character’s life portion. Each person’s past you trigger has a few dialogues all grouped into a close range and depending on where you go or how far you move, part of those clues can be easily left behind.
There is a more dramatic turn-around in everyone’s story, dark and horrifying moments hitting them like a curse. But the real question in all this is; who is the player supposed to be?
It is quite easy to assume that you may be someone sent to the valley for investigation, in order to find out where the inhabitants went and what happened after the outbreak. It is not explained at all as you are thrown into the game directly without a word about your mission, Kate’s recordings being the main trace you have to follow from the very beginning. Why is the Pattern interacting with you and how come it is showing you those past events? Is there some kind of connection between the protagonist and this light coming from the sky?
Quite hard to say, yet fascinating if we want to come up with our own speculations.
It’s difficult to follow the correct path and collect every clue available. The orbs are a bit tricky to activate too, but the slow pace makes the experience worth it if you don’t mind sitting down and enjoy a peaceful, yet engaging experience.
Rapture on PC
While Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture already has an incredible amount of details running in the CryEngine, playing this title on PC will obviously increase the overall quality thanks to the Nvidia works and ReShade. The game looks best if you run it on 4k, the falling leaves and particles create a wonderful immersion and you can play around with a lot of filters to generate different combinations for cinematic purposes or just your own satisfaction.
Without UI and markers on the screen you can easily take advantage of its beauty to generate wallpaper-worthy shots or panoramic pictures by simply pressing the prntscr key (it will automatically send the images to the game’s main folder if you have ReShade installed).
Note: It is possible to add some very nice Depth Of Field effect to the scene with the various ReShade options. If you want a specific object or area in focus press Shift + F2 to open the window, so that your cursor will appear and you will be able to use it to set the autofocus properly without changing camera view. Then close the ReShade menu again to make the cursor disappear while keeping the DOF as you set it (as long as you don’t move your mouse until you’re done taking the shot). You can also add hotkeys to active your favorite effects without opening and closing the console every time.
Everybody’s gone to the Rapture is a mystical journey, a true piece of visual art that will transport you into a relaxing hike full of sci-fi elements and novel-like tales. Just be aware of the fact that you may get bored easily if you prefer an active gameplay (your character can’t even run) and you are unable to save manually (there is an autosave after every plot trigger). The soundtrack is breathtaking and made the game win a Bafta award for it’s audio content.
Update 11/14: I found out there is a Cheat Table for walking speed and No Clip. With the latter active you can get rid of default boundaries and fly around without obstacle, useful to take shots in areas you haven’t yet discovered or from different perspectives. Be careful with it though because it can be a bit glitchy and you may risk to unlock parts of the story that will just bring you way too forward and close to the end.
I highly recommend to use this mod after playing the whole game at least once, Cheat Engine tends to crash your game randomly all of a sudden and this could make you lose part of the progress. Do not use the orbs if you want to play with the table for some screenshots either, especially because if you deactivate the No Clip option, you will land exactly in the spot you just reached, leaving any other location and clue behind.