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 (3,863 reviews)
Release Date: Sep 25, 2014

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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.

Recent updates View all (7)

December 23, 2014

Update #5 is now live!

This small update adds the following option to the launcher and the game: Framerate Control. "Unlimited framerate" is the default behavior, "Smoothed 60 fps max" is something that might potentially help in rare cases with micro-stuttering.

Note: please check if your graphic options have changed after this update and if so (unlikely, but still), restore them to your favorite set up.

We have also removed FXAA as it never worked well with the game (and when it did, it looked ugly with the amount of alpha-intensive vegetation and the postprocess filters we use). We have also removed ambient occlusion option, as we use AO extremely rarely (only on a couple of objects), and it was so subtle that people thought it didn't work at all anyway.

43 comments Read more

November 21, 2014

Update #4 - Achievements - is now live!

- added 14 Achievements to the game. If you have finished the game already, most of them will automatically unlock simply when you launch the game. See this blog post for details:

- sent a diver to remove the sniper rifle from the center of the lake and then hide it so no one would ever find it.

21 comments Read more


“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
268 of 282 people (95%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
5.4 hrs on record
Posted: November 30, 2014
Maybe for a 5 hours long game you won't be willing to pay 19€, but for 10€ it's worth every cent, even though it's among the shortest games I've played.
If I have to categorize this game I'd say this is a lovecraftian game, it's a detective story with paranormal and horror features all perfectly encased in the most beautiful and realistic environment ever seen in a videogame, not to mention the absolutely perfect music that will give you goose bumps.

***GAMEPLAY 8/10: Investigative, slow paced. You won't be running around guns blazing in this game, you have to look for hints or you'll be missing something for sure. You can complete everything or nothing in any order. You won't see any kind of log book, map or quest marker. I really liked it, but unfortunately the game is a bit too short to enjoy the investigative experience. Another great thing about the gameplay is that you will never experience any interruption because the game needs to load areas, you start from the beginning and reach the end in one single walk. This is probably the reason why this game is so short, a longer and a bigger game environment might have required a loading screen or two.

***STORY 8/10: That's all this game is about, story. As you are told at the beginning of the game "This game is a narrative experience that does not hold your hand". Step by step you'll discover the truth about the mysterious events that happened in Red Creek Valley until you reach the end where the ultimate truth will be revealed. I can't tell anything without spoiling something, so I'll just say it's really enjoyable.

***GRAPHICS 10/10: I have never, NEVER, seen such beautiful environment. I grew up near the Alps and I can see that exact scenery in this game; rocks, trees, bushes, and even the undergrowth look absolutely real. The textures are high quality photos of actual, real life environment. I suggest you read this to learn more about this spectacular creation.

***SOUND 9/10: Beautiful music completes the game, it goes hand in hand with the environment. I could stay hours looking at the landscape listening to the music... and maybe i did.

Overall score 9/10
Grab it when it's around 10€, you won't regret it.
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334 of 397 people (84%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
12.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 21, 2014
I'll remember this game for the rest of my life. Pure poetry, enough said.
Thank you, The Astronauts.
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56 of 60 people (93%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
9.9 hrs on record
Posted: December 4, 2014
Have you ever asked yourself how a particular video game has made you FEEL? I am going to attempt to explain that vague underlining feeling that occurs from playing a game like this. I have not wanted to revisit this game as it left such an imprint on me at an emotional level. I have lately been forced to revisit it, however, as the world of Ethan Carter has somehow mingled with my dreams to form nightmares despite not having played the game since it first came out.

Ethan's world leaves a bitter emptiness and darkness that I soon found I wanted to escape. As I walked through this beautiful forested land I soon began to notice the deadly silence. Is there anyone here? When is the last time that I have felt so alone in a place? I began to seek out the comfort of human voices. I craved for Paul Prospero to say something, anything. I didn't want to play the game anymore. I wanted to forget about it.... but I had to find Ethan... I had to know what happened here. I had to know what happened to this world drowning in quiet desperation, to this place that feels lost, alone, and afraid. It felt like it was hanging on for dear life like a fading memory... It felt like I was not supposed to be there.....

I think that the atmosphere itself is brilliantly crafted and I would recommend playing it simply to have the experience. Just be prepared... We don't get to escape our experiences in the video game world just because they are not "real" life.
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64 of 75 people (85%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
7.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 1, 2014
The graphics of this game are just absolutely beatiful, they're just amazing you can't really anything else about them. The play area of the game is also really well done and the music really fits the game.
But the game is pretty short so keep that in mind if you're thinking about buying it!
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67 of 85 people (79%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 26, 2014
"No matter from what perspective you look at it, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an impressive title. The special storytelling, absurdly beautiful game world and the intimate atmosphere make this a game for everyone." 8/10
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30 of 32 people (94%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: February 14
There are good Lovecraft games and bad versions. This is nearly a perfect "H.P. Lovecraft is my hero" game.

From the pretty graphics, the sounds, the voices, the story, the clues, even the way the game feels.. perfect.

If you enjoy slow subtle horror, get this. It plays just like you are walking around within a Lovecraft story. Good stuff!
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42 of 52 people (81%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
4.1 hrs on record
Posted: December 5, 2014
Aside from being one of the best looking games on PC, Ethan Carter is Atmospheric and Immersive. This little horror gem will keep you at the edge of your toes. 10/10
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26 of 28 people (93%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
8.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 20, 2014
I have never been so sad to finish a game in my life.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a masterpiece, every inch in it is a work of art a very unique experience and truly unprecedented in the adventure games genre.

The immersion, atmosphere, graphics, music ...everything is out of this world , the team working on The Vanishing of Ethan have really poured their soul and heart into the making of it, they have certainly raised the bar for everyone.

One of the most memorable experience i had in a decade.

Thank you,
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33 of 40 people (83%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
5.2 hrs on record
Posted: December 10, 2014
This is an awesome game, good visuals, music and storyline.
You get immersed inside the game with the scenery and the mystery behind the story.
It has good puzzles, reminded me a bit of the myst series.
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24 of 27 people (89%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
6.4 hrs on record
Posted: November 2, 2014
Thought provoking story, awesome music and really rather impressive graphics make for one of my favourite games this year. 9/10
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19 of 20 people (95%) found this review helpful
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.).
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20 of 22 people (91%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
5.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 29, 2014
A visually stunning game - it's like a beautiful painting come to life. A mystery to solve, with clues and puzzles to get you thinking, opening up answers to solving a sequence of terrible events. Take your time, explore the areas provided as there are some little easter eggs in this game that make it all the more intriguing. Too short - I wanted more, but the game is time well spent. Loved it.
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20 of 23 people (87%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
6.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 29, 2014
A really good game in many ways, this is another step forward towards my dream exploration experience.

First of all, TVoEC is a gorgeous game. I know graphics should not come first but I feel the visuals of this game are quite an achievement regarding the rendering of natural environments. You could (and should) spend time admiring your surroundings. The plot is simple and good. It is not really gripping but will keep you pushing forward. The puzzles are varied yet a little simple to my taste. I guess the developers wanted most of the players to see the ending and since the game is story-driven, it is understandable. The cast of NPCs is good (though you cannot interact with any of them) and the voice acting and music are fine as well. Finally, one of the things which stood out for me was the choice of an open-world: you can wander almost anywhere without spoiling the experience.

While the world is open, it is in fact rather small and there are too many invisible walls. Inventory management and a journal system to keep a trace of what you have learned are two things I feel should have been added to make the experience even better.
While far from being a walking simulator, it is a little disappointing that TVoEC did not push the exploration part even further. Having played Dear Esther, Lifeless Planet and Gone Home, I was hoping that this game would be the ultimate exploration/puzzle game. While still an excellent title, it fell a little short of that.
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16 of 17 people (94%) found this review helpful
5.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 3, 2014
An excellent 5-7 hour exercise in exploration, puzzle solving, and Lovecraftian horror, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is one of the most visually masterful and beautifully designed games I've had the joy of playing. If you want to feel like a kid again, exploring a wonderous and exciting world without a minimap or quest marker getting in your way every 5 minutes, buy this immediately.
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104 of 174 people (60%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
5.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 30, 2014
Great graphics, with realistic sceneries. Especially stones, rocks, and forest roads look like real.
Interesting story, though not addictive.
There are very few demanding puzzles. I don't feel like it's an adventure game - more like a grapics demo with some story and interactive elements. As for the murder scene puzzles, there are only five, of which one has already been shown by the devs. Of those four left, one is demanding and three others are so obvious, they shouldn't even be called 'puzzles'. What a shame, I was really looking forward to this piece of the game.

Summing up, I'd advise buying this game when the price drops below 10$.
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12 of 12 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 13, 2014
One of the best atmospher i have seen in games for a long time. Musics are great and music use throughout the game has been done perfectly, graphics are beautiful, puzzles are neither too hard nor too easy, plot is intriguing and the ending is impressive. Overall it's a very well made game and definitely money well spent. I'll be looking forward to more games from The Astronauts.
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12 of 12 people (100%) found this review helpful
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.
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68 of 114 people (60%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
4.1 hrs on record
Posted: December 19, 2014
All in all I was kind of disappointed:

+ lovely graphics
+ great atmosphere

- monotonous gameplay, without any real challenges
- super static world with almost no interaction
- no replay value at all
- very short (~4h)
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16 of 20 people (80%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
4.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 30, 2014
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
Field Rating Review
An absolutely stunning and absorbing environment both visually and audibly, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is crafted with love and some incredible attention to detail. That being said, the human models are not the most impressive things to look at, and the voice acting isn't the greatest, but none of it detracts from the experience of this beautiful game.
There is no hand holding in this mystery game, and once you start, it is all up to you to piece the puzzle together. With some wonderfully unique gameplay elements, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter succeeds in delivering both an enjoyable experience, and an immersive one.
A compelling story that keeps you playing and thinking until you're done. Even once you have completed the game, you'll think back, pondering several possibilites. However, for how engrossed I was in solving the mystery of Ethan Carter, it was jarring how short the game was. Easily beaten in one sitting of a few hours. They could have taken this one a long way. But perhaps that's the beauty of Ethan Carter's story. It isn't dragged out, it just is what it is.
None here, the best you'll do is solving the mystery with a friend sitting at your side.
Only worth going back to if you missed something, or for the beauty of the envrionment. Other than that, there isn't much of anything to replay this game for. I'm giving this one a N/A simply because I do not feel replayability should be a factor in mystery games such as this. Once you know the story, you know it. These types of games are not designed to be replayed, so keep that in mind.
First, I was stunned by the envrionment and sounds. Next, I was thrilled by the gameplay elements. Finally, I was enthralled by the story. Though I don't know I would recommend Ethan Carter for full price (simply because of the shortness of the game), absolutely pick it up on sale if you enjoy a good mystery.

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12 of 13 people (92%) found this review helpful
5.0 hrs on record
Posted: November 30, 2014
Great storytelling and immersion.
This is a first-person exploration-based mystery-adventure game. It is relatively short and could probably be beaten in 3-4 hours. I took 5, since I spent a lot of time walking around and taking in the scenery. Cranked up to max settings, the world in this game looks incredible. I am literally using screenshots I took as my desktop backgrounds.

I highly recommend picking this up when it goes on sale.
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