The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a first-person story-driven mystery. Purchase this game to get both the original and the Unreal Engine 4 remaster called The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Redux.
User reviews:
Recent:
Very Positive (178 reviews) - 85% of the 178 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Overall:
Very Positive (6,001 reviews) - 89% of the 6,001 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Sep 25, 2014

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Reviews

“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

GOOD NEWS EVERYONE: By purchasing the game, you actually get two games now: 1) The original The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, 2) The Unreal Engine 4 remaster called The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Redux. Please see this link for details.

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

    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows 64-bit
    • Processor: Intel Core2 Duo or equivalent AMD
    • Memory: 6 GB RAM
    • Graphics: DirectX11 compliant card with 1GB of VRAM
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Storage: 9 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX9c compliant
Customer reviews
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Recent:
Very Positive (178 reviews)
Overall:
Very Positive (6,001 reviews)
Recently Posted
The Great Cornholio
( 0.2 hrs on record )
Posted: July 24
Absolutely fantastic. The graphical quality is to die for. Running 1920x1080 with maxed settings and 200% resolution scale will blow your mind. (redux with UE4)
Maxing out settings for 1920x1080 is surprisingly nice in the original TVoEC with UE3, but UE4 adds extreme performance optimization along with TAA.
Story is quite engaging and will do you right, trust me.
I have nothing bad to say about the game to be quite frank.
I only have played the redux all the way through, but I'll play the original when I can handle replaying everything.
11/10 for mystery games and puzzles
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septularave
( 4.4 hrs on record )
Posted: July 23
First and foremost, I don't think this game is worth $20. If you're thinking of getting it, I'd recommend waiting until it goes on sale. Now that we're passed the price point, I really enjoyed this game. The graphics are just breath taking, the story is eerie and bizarre. I would describe this game as a walking simulator that is meant to tell you a very specific story. Of course, different people love different things, so below is a list of things that I feel may be good all around (+), bad all around (-), or may go either way depending on the person (+/-).

+ Beautiful graphics
+ Story driven [murder mystery/eerie ghost story type]
+/- Walking simulator
+/- Short puzzles
- Price point
*SPOILER - REVEAL AT YOUR OWN RISK* - Lackluster ending

At the end of it all, I enjoyed this game but I recognize that it's definitely not everyone's cup of tea!
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Major Mauker
( 5.5 hrs on record )
Posted: July 23
It`s a very beautiful game and it was a pleasure to soak up the atmosphere, which is indeed very mystical. So while walking around, I was wondering when the next "thing" will kill me.... but it never happened. for me it was a lot of fun to play, although some of the quests are a little confusing. so in the beginning I missed a couple of them, but when you get used to the game you will focuse them better. in my opinion: everyone should try it!
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ConstantsandVariables
( 5.8 hrs on record )
Posted: July 22
Immensely atmospheric, truly feels like walking through lush forests and ancient ruins.

and then you chase a spaceman.

10/10
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TheCyberDruid
( 3.4 hrs on record )
Posted: July 22
Very interesting narrative with amazing visuals and a soundtrack that perfectly sets the atmosphere.

It's a rather short game, but the experience is well worth the asking price. I've played the Redux version and the graphics are breathtakingly beautiful. The story unfolds in an interesting way and while you can miss out (literally walk past...) on parts of it, the game will not let you finish without discovering it all.

The game doesn't hold your hand, but it does make you figure out what to do. Highly recommended if you like interesting stories and great visuals :)
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Chane
( 3.2 hrs on record )
Posted: July 21
The vanishing of Ethan Carter is a strange game. Obviously, it's beautiful and looks great, but is there more? A classic soundtrack is triggered whenever necessary to support the strong, mystical and somewhat threatening mood. The game consists of ten different puzzles. Put together they tell a story. Personally, I did not like the story. Until the decryption of the last riddle there are quite a number of aspects in the story that make no sense.

Some years ago I read a book that in the end turned out to be a dream, making the whole story meaningless. In a similar fashion this applies to 'The vanishing if Ethan Carter'. I don't think it is possible to find a clear verdict if this game deserves a recommendation or not. It's simply a matter of taste. And while I do understand the many positive reviews for this game, I can not join the group of proponents. You have to find out for yourself if you like this game or not.

Pros:
- beautiful graphics
- strong atmosphere
- good music
- easy achievements
- a piece of art

Cons:
- somewhat a walking simulator
- very brutal
- dark, strange, bizarre story
- short (10 puzzles)
- linear
- few moments of surprising joy
- only things to do: read notes, find half a dozen items, arrange story events in the correct sequence
- no side quests
- you can't make any decisions
- didn't touch me emotionally
- no direct dialogues with NPCs, you can only listen
- not challenging
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Fragginstein420
( 2.5 hrs on record )
Posted: July 21
sPoOkY aS ♥♥♥♥!!!
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Qopel
( 1.5 hrs on record )
Posted: July 20
Love the graphics. Some of the puzzles are just rediculous. I want to like it, but the game play is no good.
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DocCovington
( 17.8 hrs on record )
Posted: July 20
It's been a year since I first played this game and I am still in love with it. Unlike any other game, this stunningly unique piece of art will have you in awe. Beautiful graphics, simple controls, a tense atmosphere and, most importantly, an emotionally and psychologically engulfing story -- absolutely worth your time. Goosebump guarantee!

And without spoiling too much, I would like to have a quick word with those of you who claim that the ending makes "any analysis of lines of dialogue, narrative, and story telling null and void": You obviously don't understand much about human psychology. Everything you experienced in the course of the story does matter. It is a display of human relationships and emotions, of pain and abuse, of how a child feels under certain circumstances within the boundaries of their family and expresses their feelings and finds a way to vent in order to escape said pain. Ultimately, the tragedy unfolding before your eyes explains everything you saw, heard and felt prior during the course of the story. The mystery part is just a nice bonus to it all. If you aren't capable of understanding nor feeling that, then you must be quite an unempathic human being and this game is not meant for you.
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Dreamcatcher
( 3.7 hrs on record )
Posted: July 19
This review will be based on the redux version, I have a total play time of 8 hours. Compared to the original version, the redux edition has graphic improvements and is even smaller in file size than the original version. The game is visually stunning and despite being a "walking game," it was very satisfying exploring the world. Overall, I found the story to be pretty weak but I still enjoyed the game due to the brilliant graphics. One thing that really bothered me was experiencing motion sickness from this game. I managed to change some settings to minimize the sickness, but it was definitely really unpleasant.
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Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
9 of 9 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
4.2 hrs on record
Posted: July 3
Mysterious but great story-rich game
Ignore my playtime, i only played the 'Redux' version, but i couldn't write a review for that one instead.

This game is incredibly story-rich, the developers put alot of time into really working up something amazing.
As usual, i don't want to spoil things so i will just say that the story is complex, is twisted, and makes you ask yourself dozens of questions.

I will start by pointing out few small things, first, don't get me wrong, but i felt the game was slightly boring. I loved the atmosphere, i loved the story, i loved the looks, i loved everything, but i felt like something was missing.
I wasn't also pleased about the fact that you don't have a journal of activities you've did, or anything to point out certain things you need to do, you just walk, and search for clues for various cases.
But, please, don't get this the wrong way. Some things cannot please everybody on every 'plane', and despite the fact that i got slightly slightly bored, i loved the game, and i do really recommend it to you.

I only played the Redux version that uses Unreal Engine 4, and what can i say... Graphics were astonishing, and the game/engine were also optimized quite decently.
Also to point out, i've seen people getting 'affected' (in a good way) in various ways, and this kind of uniqueness isn't very common :)

Gameplay
You have to find cases, and then find clues for them, you investigate murders, but you have to find them first, you might love this, or may not. I personally would've preferred to have something to keep track of events and such.
The thing that i loved most about the gameplay is that you basically can solve the cases in absolutely any order you want, you are not limited in any way.
Searching for clues something can be a bit annoying because you have to 'expand' your search area, without you even knowing, but... that's puzzle for you!
As someone who isn't a fan of puzzle games, i am not ashamed to admit i used walkthrough guides on numerous occasions, this is what i actually wanted this game to be for me, more of a walking simulator, but the puzzles, many of them i still tried to solve myself without looking at the actual content of the guide. I mostly just wanted to know the locations of 'action'.
If you want a challenge, you can do it without the guide, as i said, this game doesn't prevent you from solving cases in any order you might like.
If you just want a walking simulator, to become just an explorer in an amazingly beautiful place, you can look inside a guide, no reason to feel bad about it.

Atmosphere
The atmosphere, a lonely one, is as beautiful just as it is scary.
It felt amazing, that whole place felt very real to me, and i wished so much that i could somehow be there, instead of being behind a monitor, moving with few washed-off keys instead of my legs.
The simple music fits the game perfectly, it's relaxing, it's soft as it should be, i loved it, not much i can say about it.
Atmosphere overall is beautiful. Extremely Beautiful.

Special Section
I feel i need to say this out loud, so here it goes.
These are the devs people should support in my opinion, they created this beautiful piece of art that will be forever remembered by putting their hearts into the game.
Every aspect of it, you just feel that passion they had, you can feel their struggle and teamwork at every grain of sand you step on, and at every leaf that falls.

A very talented team, that i sincerely hope will get as far as possible into the gaming world.
If they will never change for the worst, they'll always be part of the ones i love the most.


Pros
  • Complex and Unique Story
  • Completely stunning visuals
  • Great atmosphere

Cons
  • Few glitches from time to time
  • No logs, no journals, no maps to guide you throughout the game

Final Scores:
75/100 - Gameplay (Due to the small glitches from time to time and because you don't have anything to guide you throughout your journey)
100/100 - Story (Unique, that touches people in so many different ways, and it's also very complex)
100/100 - Atmosphere (If i could i would move to Red Creek Valley in the next second)

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10 of 11 people (91%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
4.2 hrs on record
Posted: June 30
Great game and for the price in the sale of £2.99, definitely buy it.
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12 of 15 people (80%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: June 26
I couldn't post a review under the Redux version, so I had to install the 10GB original and run it for 5 minutes. The Redux version took me 4.7 hours to finish, so pay no attention to the time on record. It's the same game, story-wise and otherwise-wise.

This would be the first game I'd recommend if you hated Dear Esther. It's hard not to compare the two, but The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is more of a game whereas Dear Esther was an experience or experiment in storytelling. To me it was an unforgettable experience, rarely a game has crawled under my skin like Dear Esther, but truth be told, I've only finished it once. That doesn't take away the goosebumps and the emotions I went through, but replayability is an important thing to any gamer. I can't help but sneer at the term walking simulator though, cos it sort of closes the door on any experiment or game not conforming to the norm. While gameplay is king, I'd rather have access to new ideas than play the 400th Mario game, because the platforming is so timeless. Restricting player movement in a game goes against every instinct in your body, cos games are supposed to be liberating experiences, but on the other hand you have highly scripted games that are rewarded with your hard-earned €60 for doing the exact same thing.

Our notions of pricing is another thing that's put to the test when playing these sort of games, which is understandable, but Ethan Carter steps comfortably out of the danger zone of being completed in 2 hours on your first playthrough. It lets you experience its story by having you solve multiple murders and puzzles, but mainly murders as you walk or run through the absolutely stunning Red Creek Valley. Considering how believable the location is and my cursed compulsion to seek out every corner, I would've hated this game with a passion if I hadn't had the option to sprint and I mean properly sprint not just walk faster, which some games seem to mix up. Sprinting would've destroyed Dear Esther, but here it's unavoidable, especially with the risk of backtracking.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter looks so good you wish you had the PC to be able to max it out, at least in my case, cos with the use of photogrammetry it literally looks picture perfect. You would gladly walk, admire your surroundings and forget the gameplay, but there is no need to go exploring every nook and cranny. There are only a couple of items off the beaten path; this is no game of collectibles. The words Inspect and Read hover over every item worth looking at. To avoid backtracking though you need to pay attention, cos every puzzle needs to be solved in order to finish the game.

I can't say what the story is about without spoiling it, but you'll notice right away that this isn't a detective story rooted in reality. It's a nice mix between Dear Esther and Alan Wake. Often times I was enjoying the sights and the simple gameplay of putting murder scenes together that I didn't bother putting the actual story together, cos you're so used to a paranormal angle that it's become normal, which is why I was caught off guard by the games ending. Having only played the Redux version, which has a better save system though higher system requirements and the risks of backtracking aside, the gorgeous game world, its Lovecraftian tone and a good story make it a worthy experience.

EDIT:

A tip from grandsong: If you're not interested in walking, in keybindings change Run to W, so you can rest that pinky finger of yours.
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9 of 10 people (90%) found this review helpful
Recommended
5.7 hrs on record
Posted: July 1
This review is for both The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Redux. I've played both games, they are the same, the redux version has better graphics and some small interface differences. At the end of this review i explain more about the differences*.

More than 20 years ago, when i first played Myst i remember thinking, well, this game seems cool and all, specially the graphics, the story is very vague...and i don't really see too many things to do...i hope i soon have some things to do.. because if i don't i'm not so sure this is gonna work out....aand, of course, turns out, in myst, i did have some/several things to do, but in an original and unexpected way and there was a story, although not like you were expecting it to be, and it became one of the most known adventure games of the 90s (even though, it wasn't considered an adventure by many...). And that's fine, because the game was anything but a normal adventure, it was something else. You could like it, or hate it, but it was difficult to remain indifferent (once you played it).

Playing The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was the first time since playing Myst...that i had a similar experience... a sort of experience that not even the following game Riven could replicate, or the other games that followed in the series. Riven was a great game, even better than Myst, but it didn't replicate this feeling, of being in a real place. That's one of the things that's amazing from The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, it's been a long time since i felt this way about a virtual designed place.... this place....this creek valley....it could exist, it could actually exist (i believed it could). And i know is not real, CGI place of sorts, and the graphics were great of course, very good, but not the greatest, and still.... and that's what surprised me, there was something else happening, i don't know, maybe because of the photographic textures, maybe just by a design choice of space, or maybe the way each stage was presented , that something in my mind, told me, this could be real.
This proves to me, basically, that no matter how good the graphics are, there's something more needed for a place to be "believable" Something that has to be well though out and put into place. Something does have to work in a practical way.

One thing that this game dares to do, is design a place and then put all the different interactions in a organic way. Meaning, if you are in the woods, and there's something to do there, and then there's a bridge in the background and there's something more to do over the bridge, you are not just gonna jump from one place to the other....you are gonna have to walk all the woods and arrive to the bridge, and then if you wanna go to the house over the hill, you are gonna have to cross the whole bridge, and climb the hill. There's just no shortcuts in graphics and places, it's all there, you believe it could be some real place. Maybe that's the part that could come across as "walking simulator" because you do have to walk "a lot" but you also do have quite a few things to do, and an investigation to complete (also you can sprint fast). You are a detective of sorts, and you have to learn what happened to Ethan and his family. And whats this weird energy around the valley where the games takes place.

I was surprised by this, because, yes, the game is in part a walking simulator (you do walk a lot) and the game itself is not overly long. But , in this case and for this game, thats perfect! for once , it made sense to me to have a game where you do walk a lot while doing some interaction with things (it's part of the experience, to discover each corner of this place, and investigate) and it's fine for this game to not be really long, because the story doesn't need it. But it doesn't feel cheap, and it doesn't feel short. A movie takes about 2 hours, and we don't think it's short or cheap. This game takes something between 6 to 8 hours, and it doesn't feel short at all.
Also, while doing the investigation you will come around certain objects, that you will look closely, sometimes even pick them up to use them someplace else. And in certain scenes you' re gonna have to reconstruct a chronology of events. Telling more would be spoiling it...because, the same as myst, this game tries to be something else...it has to be discovered... and it does succeed in making you believe it is real.

The story is good, very interesting, it's presented in a very good pace almost all along and the tension remains almost all the way. I would say that during the last scenes it was a little let down, not because of the ending, but to the contrary, because before the ending you would want to know more about the characters and their story, and how it happened all that came to be, before the ending. That's in fact a testament to how good the game was at times, although not perfect.
I would say the story is good enough, but no great, and what truly is great here is the experience of discovering and learning about the game world.

Playing this game makes me realize how gaming has come along these last 20 years that we are now seeing new genres (or variations of existing genres) and in this parcticular case, that not all games have to be a 60+ hs experience to be valuable (especially if its not justified) Sometimes, less and minimalistic, is just as good.

I was just ready to quit for good these so called "Walking simulators" because i'm bored to death of them, i hate just walking around, if it is for the story i play it, then i just prefer to watch a movie, really.

But, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter showed me that, if there's a good reason to make a "walking simulator" (with a good amount of interactions, albeit minimal) and it is justified,it can be a great gaming experience, different than a movie. A gaming experience, that if done right, could be the first of a new genre, like Myst did 20 years ago.



*******************************************************************************************************
* original vs redux version: The original was made with Unreal 3, and the redux version with Unreal 4. Unreal 4 works by default in 64bit so it makes better use of all available memory. Textures are more clear , more shadows and there are new water and light effects. There are practically no loading times "in game". When you start for the first time some effects may seem worst than the original but in fact they are better, you just have to play enough to see it. Another improvement was with the sound, the fading out / fading in between different tunes, with Unreal 4 it was more fluid. Also in redux version the saving system is more precise, it resumes mostly where you left off.
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6 of 6 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
7.1 hrs on record
Posted: July 5
I enjoyed this game.

I know there are those who decry these "walking simulators", aka exploration Adventure games, but I am not one of them. I can enjoy a game that when done right allows a person to explore a world and soak in the atmosphere while trying to figure out what the world is about and what mysteries it holds. I appreciate a game with visually pleasing artwork for me to walk through and take in, especially with some lovely vistas and other sights .Most importantly, I don't mind hunting down for clues and putting things in their places or reading/listening to be told what has occurred.
So for me, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was a good game. A tale of mystery and death, strange happenings, and a certain somberness all in the setting of a child like view of small wooded town of the past.

It is by no means a great game for me on the mystery front, where I rarely had trouble figuring out how the murders happened or how to solve a puzzle beyond the rare prompt not showing up the first time through, but for a once-through I enjoy the story as it went through much in the same way I would an old Amazing Fantasy, Outer Limits, or Twilight Zone, Ultra Q, and their kin because I was interested in what would happen next. Though I will say one thing took me by surprise that I had passed off previously when seeing the clues as an oh so standard static game image 07:00 of the clocks

It's story was well done and that's always the main crux of an Adventure game of this ilk, and though I expected the ending, it held it's charm and let me walk away happy with my experience. Even the final achievement ties in well to the final bit, though it left me wanting more...

Now perhaps because I was playing the original version, rather than redux but I did have some problems with the audio. I can pass off some complaints with it's "out there" or "things are just not quite right" atmosphere it's going for, but I did not care for sound just dropping out as though I entered a tunnel just by walking into a building nor the same sound for a trap ready to be sprung occurring in areas where no traps were present, and thus confusing me. Minor issues all together, but I thought it was worth mentioning as otherwise it's quite nice with headphones on.

I'd recommend it to others who like exploration Adventure games, as long as you don't expect it to be a great mystery game or demand much in the way of puzzle solving with some potential "where do I go now?" if you miss a clue. Just play Redux.
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
4.2 hrs on record
Posted: June 30
Looks great, story is great, the world is great. This game is great.
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.4 hrs on record
Posted: July 22
Very interesting narrative with amazing visuals and a soundtrack that perfectly sets the atmosphere.

It's a rather short game, but the experience is well worth the asking price. I've played the Redux version and the graphics are breathtakingly beautiful. The story unfolds in an interesting way and while you can miss out (literally walk past...) on parts of it, the game will not let you finish without discovering it all.

The game doesn't hold your hand, but it does make you figure out what to do. Highly recommended if you like interesting stories and great visuals :)
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23 of 41 people (56%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
2.1 hrs on record
Posted: June 25
Shows some promise in storytelling, but way too many issues. Better tape your shift key down so you can move at a normal speed the whole game. Constant lighting issues. Completely bullpoop hidden areas to progess to the point of pixel hunting. Slenderman "spooky" maze portions for no reason other than Slenderman was popular. Level design is a mess as what looks like broad open areas are really small confined hallways.The disclaimer at the beginning that the game doesn't hold your hand is a HUGE red flag and ended up being correct that the game is simply poorly designed. Be ready for backtracking because the game explains literally nothing and not for any sort of puzzle solving or exploration reasons given the hallway issue.

Honestly confused about the positive reviews. The whole game feels like wandering from one hallway to the next hoping desperately to find something interesting.
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
4.1 hrs on record
Posted: June 30
AMAZING story. and it's on sale. get it.
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
15.2 hrs on record
Posted: June 28
Amazing! A extremely beautiful and atmospheric game, well if you can call it a game. Nobody points you in the correct direction you have to find the solution by your self.

It Reminds me a bit of "Dear Esther" but with more interactive parts.

I highly recommend it.
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