Available on PlayStation 4
The first thing that has to be said about Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is that it’s absolutely gorgeous. The setting, the graphics, the music, the atmosphere—all of it is completely beautiful. You don’t do much in this game. It’s mostly just walking around (or jogging at a realistically sluggish pace) and occasionally opening doors or listening to radios. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s lovely just to be there. Maybe all you’re doing in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is just immersing yourself in your surroundings. You’re doing the same thing you might be doing if you really were alone in a rural town in Britain in the summer as evening falls. Gaining perspective, relaxing, looking inward (and hopefully working out some knots).
Story and Gameplay
That isn’t all there is to the game, of course. You start out in this small town unsure of who you are or what you’re doing there. That doesn’t really change. But as you wander around, you realize that you’re the only one still around. Everybody else has disappeared, seemingly very suddenly—there are still all the signs that people once lived here. Paper that kids had colored on, embers still smoking. It becomes clear pretty quickly that something bad happened, though. Quarantine. People were afraid before they mysteriously up and vanished. You turn on a radio and listen to somebody named Kate recording a message to someone. To you? To herself?
Then the ghosts appear: memories of people having cryptic conversations. Kate is one of them. There’s a little light that swerves in and out, and if you follow it, you stumble across more of these strange memories. Slowly but surely, things become clearer. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture isn’t really a mystery game, though. There isn’t any huge showdown with the villain revealing all, or a final triumphant “aha” moment. I ended the game feeling a lot like I did when I started—lonely and confused, but at peace all the same.
I think I would’ve really enjoyed this game when I was a kid, for most of the same reasons I enjoyed wandering around the Myst island in the early ’90s—it’s a mystery! Something to solve! It didn’t matter that I was utterly unable to actually solve a single one of the Myst puzzles. Or maybe that’s what made it so enticing. Ultimately, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a very different game from Myst—there aren’t any puzzles, for one thing, unless you count the overarching mystery of the story—but it definitely evoked some of that same nostalgia.
On the other hand, I don’t think I would have been satisfied by the story in Rapture, because I wouldn’t have been able to really understand it. Even up until the tweens, I think most kids like answers. I was completely intrigued by things like “The X-Files,” but I always ended up confused and wanting somebody to explain something. Not coincidentally, “The X-Files” was also terrifying in ways that make me laugh now. And there aren’t always answers. Some stories are incredible because they don’t give you all the details; Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is one of those.
The ESRB Rating
The game is rated M for Mature, with descriptors for violence, blood, suggestive themes, alcohol reference and strong language. There are allusions to adultery and alcoholism, and wads of bloody tissues litter the ground. There’s also a bit of strong language here and there. My feeling is that it doesn’t really deserve the M for Mature rating in terms of the content descriptors given. Teens are well aware that sometimes people in relationships cheat and that some folks drink more than they should. None of the content is graphic. It’s almost entirely conveyed through listening to invisible people’s mild conversations. That said, the story is most definitely mature. Don’t let the beautiful scenery and peaceful atmosphere fool you; I would’ve been confused and frightened by Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture when I was a kid, and I was certainly unsettled as an adult.
This is a wonderful, relaxing, gorgeous game. It’s incredibly easy to play. But it’s not necessarily for kids. Be wary, and be prepared to talk about it if you do want to introduce your younger friends to Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.