The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a first-person story-driven mystery game focused on exploration and discovery. As occult-minded private detective Paul Prospero communicate with the dead to discover the fate of a missing boy and the mystery behind a dark ancient force lurking in Red Creek Valley.
User reviews: Very Positive (4,869 reviews)
Release Date: Sep 25, 2014

Sign in to add this item to your wishlist, follow it, or mark it as not interested

Buy The Vanishing of Ethan Carter


Recommended By Curators

"A tense and spooky stroll through a gorgeous world, some fun supernatural detective work, and an efficient script with sparse dialogue."
Read the full review here.


“A story told with a level of cleverness and elegance rarely seen in games.”
9/10 – GameSpot

“Leaves you with several amazing memories; moments that you will want to talk to your friends about for hours.”
9/10 – EuroGamer

“One of the best games of the year.”
9/10 – US Gamer

About This Game

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a first-person story-driven mystery game that focuses entirely on exploration and discovery. It contains no combat or explosions of any kind. If our game leaves any scars, we hope you won’t be able to see them.

You play the game as Paul Prospero, an occult-minded detective who receives a disturbing letter from Ethan Carter. Realizing the boy is in grave danger, Paul arrives at Ethan’s home of Red Creek Valley, where things turn out to be even worse than he imagined. Ethan has vanished in the wake of a brutal murder, which Paul quickly discerns might not be the only local murder worth looking into.

Inspired by the weird fiction (and other tales of the macabre) from the early twentieth century, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter aims to significantly evolve immersive storytelling in games. While it features a private detective and quite a few mental challenges, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is not an especially puzzle-ridden game. Our focus is on atmosphere, mood, and the essential humanity of our characters.

Still, the discoveries won’t happen on their own, or without your help. Using both Paul’s supernatural skill of being able to communicate with the dead, and your own powers of observation, you will discover the mystery behind a trail of corpses, the roots of a dark ancient force lurking in Red Creek Valley, and the fate of a missing boy.

Key Features

  • Explore and interact with the beautiful yet ominous world of Red Creek Valley, which was created with the use of revolutionary photogrammetry technology that allows for nearly photorealistic environments.
  • Communicate with the dead and see how they died in order to gather clues that help you piece together the truth behind Ethan’s disappearance -- and the fate of his family.
  • Experience, in non-linear fashion, a story that combines the pleasures of pulp, private eye, and horror fiction, all of it inspired by writers such as Raymond Chandler, Algernon Blackwood, Stefan Grabinski, and H. P. Lovecraft.
  • Conduct the investigation on your own terms and at your own pace. Although there are a few scary bits in the game, players will have no need for sedatives. Our game is less about terror and more about clammy unease.

System Requirements

    • OS: WindowsXP SP3 or higher
    • Processor: Intel Core2 Duo or equivalent AMD
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: DirectX9c compliant card with 512MB of VRAM
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Hard Drive: 9 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX9c compliant
Helpful customer reviews
291 of 293 people (99%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
13.6 hrs on record
Posted: March 27
Entertaining modern adventure game focused on investigation. One big drawback. Rating: 7/10.

+ Visually stunning. One of the most realistic environments I've seen so far.
+ Great soundtrack that ties in quite well with the environment. Music gets gloomy when walking in dark parts of the wood, become more optimistic and light when entering a clearing, etc. The transitions are quite well done as well (i.e. it doesn't just jump from gloomy to cheerful).
+ Interesting storyline and puzzles. The puzzle-difficulty is suitable for the average gamer. Game mechanics such as your psychic powers, were a nice touch as well.

+/- Playthrough is about 6 hours (plus or minus one or two hours depending on whether you take the time to walk around and just enjoy the scenery). Relatively short, but it didn't feel too short.

- My main problem with the game is the lack of a player-controlled saving option. The game auto-saves at specific points, usually when you complete a sub-story, but you cannot save yourself (not even a save-on-exit). This means losing progress when you have to leave before you reach a save-point. This made the game feel rushed; trying to run through the story to reach the next save-point, rather than enticing you to explore and just enjoy the game. This detracts from the experience and runs contrary to the game's main focus (mood, environment, etc.).
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
82 of 84 people (98%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
6.7 hrs on record
Posted: May 9
I'll echo what many, many have already said: visually stunning, great music, short. The very first thing the game tells you when you enter the world is that it will not hold your hand. It's very true. At first you may wonder what you are even supposed to do. I kept a guide handy because after glancing at it later in the game for the first time, I realized I had missed SO much in the beginning. So much so that I restarted a new game.

The story is beautiful, tragic, and extremely gripping. The ending is a satisfying surprise.

Because the game is short, however, I can not recommend paying full price. Definitely add this one to your wishlist though and snap it up as soon as you find it on sale.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
60 of 62 people (97%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
9.7 hrs on record
Posted: April 15
It got praised -- and also awarded by BAFTA in 2015 -- for the innovative photo-scanning technology the developers used in creating realistic 3D models for the objects present in the game, which made Red Creek Valley one of the most beautiful places to visit on Steam, but, personally, I think its greatest accomplishment is the subtle approach to storytelling, placing its story in an intertext cleverly situated at the intersection of several literary styles and genres: we have the typical detective story, the space-era pulpy science-fiction, the witch-in-the-woods fairy tale, the gothic novel and the lovecraftian horror -- to name only the most important ones --, all meaningfuly combined into a touching story about the power of creativity, which reminded me of Ambrose Bierce's An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.

And after Ice-pick Lodge (The Void, Knock Knock), The Chinese Room (Dear Esther, A Machine for Pigs), Cardboard Computer (Kentucky Route Zero) or Simogo (Year Walk), it's refreshing to see The Astronauts as yet another developer aptly making use of literary conventions in developing their videogames, effectively and meaningfuly blurring the thin line between the two media.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
39 of 40 people (98%) found this review helpful
3.3 hrs on record
Posted: August 30
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an adventure game which was released on PC in mid 2014, and then later released on the PS4 in the summer of 2015.

This is an open world style environment where you have very little guidance on where to go or what to do. You are left to your own devices and to progress in the game. There are a number of puzzles which you must find yourself and pretty much solve with no aid at all. Some of the puzzles are pretty hard to even locate. All of the puzzles are solved by using paranormal abilities such as sensing where objects are in the world or assembling a time line of events of the past. This was my favourite gameplay mechanic in The Vanishing of Ethan Cater, you essentially have to work out the order of events that led up to the murder of a character. This is done by seeing small memories throughout the world and then just ordering them by assigning them a number by walking up to the memory. This really makes you think about the events which have taken place, and some of them can be quite shocking!

The graphics in The Vanishing of Ethan Cater are absolutely gorgeous, easily one of the best looking games out there at the moment. The game runs in the Unreal engine 3, and the developers have really pushed it to it’s limits here. There is a wide array of graphical options in the menu, allowing you to customize it how you want. All of the graphical elements are perfectly designed. Sunsets, water reflections, foliage, all of it looks almost has a photographic realism to it.

Plot wise, this game has a very interesting tale to tell; I have to admit, it took me at least 15 minutes or so for me to really understand what was happening but after that I was fully immersed and engaged in the story. You will see plenty of twists and turns right until the final credits.

The Vanishing of Ethan Cater is fully voice acted to an extremely high standard; all of the sound effects are really well made too, such as the sounds of the forest, lakeside noises and other ambient sounds that go unnoticed, unless you actually listen out for them.

As this game has some moments in it where you have no idea where to go or how to progress, I had to resort to the use of a walkthrough, many people who read my reviews will know that it is something I have to do on a regular basis for this genre of game. Saying that, even with the use of a walkthrough, there are still moments where you have to put a lot of thought into the puzzles. There is also only one “enemy” in The Vanishing of Ethan Cater throughout the whole story, and I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t made to be a more challenging encounter than it was, since you could easily navigate your way around it with ease.

The open world in which The Vanishing of Ethan Cater is set in, is giant, and you can find something interesting to look at everywhere you turn; there are tons of different letters, journals, books and signs to interact with to get even more depth from the story. You won’t really encounter any other characters in real time though, all of the other NPCs you find will be when you are using your paranormal abilities, so there isn’t any real character interaction going on.

This game took me just under three and a half hours to complete; I feel that to be a perfect length for any adventure game like this, as it allows for a plot to be formed, fleshed out and resolved in a timely manner. Bear in mind, this was with a walkthrough for the majority of it; if you are going in blind, I would estimate you are looking at a five or six hour game.

I started out playing The Vanishing of Ethan Cater on a 4K resolution, and whilst it was playable with the majority of the settings on full, I still had the odd frame rate drop when I was looking in a direction which had a lot to render, such as over the dam. When dropping the resolution down to 1080p, the frame drops stopped and I was able to continue playing at a smooth 60 FPS. The game does have full controller compatibility, however I would recommend you use a keyboard and mouse for this game, just because it’s first person and a mouse makes controlling so much easier.

In conclusion, The Vanishing of Ethan Cater is a very nicely presented adventure game; whilst it doesn’t have any really fast paced action moments, it does have some intriguing puzzles and well throughout story behind it. You will also get to see one of the best looking games to date, and that is something which you should not miss out on. I won’t go as far to say The Vanishing of Ethan Cater is a must play for a PC game, but I will highly recommend it, just because the game has very little, if any negative points, and everything else is done to an exceptionally high standard.

Tom's Score Card
1) Stay away
2) Only recommended when on sale
3) Recommended
4) Highly recommended
5) This is a must play

If you found this review helpful, please consider giving it a thumbs up. You can also find more reviews over at
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
45 of 56 people (80%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
12.4 hrs on record
Posted: June 29
Wallpaper Simulator
10/10 Would take a photo again
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny