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 (1,459 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 (5)

October 9

Tags and album art added to OST (Collector's Upgrade)

Are you using Steam Music Player? This way or another, we have updated the OST in Collector's Upgrade/Preorder Extras with proper tags and the album cover. Much nicer this way!

5 comments Read more

October 3

Collector's Edition Upgrade is out now!

Collector's Edition Upgrade is out now, including the entire OST (over two hours of music), "Making of" PDF album, the digital map of Red Creek Valley, high-res digital poster, and exclusive wallpapers.

26 comments Read more


“As the layers begin to peel back, what you'll find is a story told with a level of cleverness and elegance rarely seen in games. It confirms the feeling you had from the first breathtaking view; when you enter into Red Creek Valley, you're in for something special.”
9/10 – GameSpot

“The Vanishing of Ethan Carter leaves you with several amazing memories; moments that you will want to talk to your friends about for hours and will take great pains not to spoil for other people.”
9/10 – EuroGamer

“Thoughtful, novel, and most of all, a ludicrous pleasure to stare at.”
Rock Paper Shotgun

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
12 of 12 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.3 hrs on record
I had been following this game for a while and had decided to wait until it was on sale before I bought it. The more I read, the more I wanted to try it out so finally I just said screw it and picked it up.

Gotta say, $20 well spent!

Sure, the game is only 4-5 hours long, depending on how much exploring and running around you do, but the whole package is so interesting that it feels much deeper than it really is.

GRAPHICS: Everyone talks about how pretty this game is. Well, it's no lie. I found myself taking constant screenshots like I was on some sort of nature hike. You know, those shots that everyone takes when they go on outdoor trips. Trees, rocks, water, old buildings. All of it looks great in this game and I was a real shutterbug. I just left the settings alone, but with my system it was at max by default. Smooth animations too!

SOUND: The voice overs, the music, the ambient sound effects. All very authentic. Similar to the above comments on graphics, the sound can realy draw you in. Just put on some headphones, go stand by the water and just listen. Wind, water flow, bugs, birds. Nature. It is very peacful.

GAMEPLAY: This is another part of this game I really enjoyed. The whole discovery mechanic for finding objects and solving puzzles is refreshing. I could do without time stamping events, but thankfully those are few and far between. If anything, I wish there were MORE puzzles. This game makes me want a full blown "Sherlock Holmes" style mystery adventure with similar mechanics in place. Would be awesome!

STORY: This will be my only knock on the game. Don't get me wrong, the story is really good, but it became a little obvious too soon (for me at least) what was going on. So a few times in the game I found myself rushing a bit. So when I say it's a negative, I mean like when an actor in a movie does a bad accent. It doesn't make the movie bad, it just is someting that bugs you if you pay too much attention.

VALUE: I just wanted to touch on this one more time. Some might say $20 for such a short game is too much. And maybe you are right, but the overall package is really what is worth every penny.

So in the end, I would highly recommend this game to anyone who just wants a refreshingly new adventure in a beautiful world. Just dive in, and enjoy!

Hope they make another like this soon :)
Posted: October 20
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6 of 6 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.8 hrs on record
I absolutely loved playing this!
To make the review short and simple I'll stick with the pros and cons of it.


+ Graphics - it's one of the best looking games I've ever played, incredibly well polished.

+ Immersion - there's no HUD, no hints, nothing on the screen to distract you for this immersive experience (I can only hope to replay it in a few years with oculus rift support).

+ Soundtrack - one of my favourite things about this game! It can be beautiful and yet, at the same time, bitter. It really helps to set the tone.

+ Story - it's not the game's strongest point and it ends in a bit of a cliché way, but it still manages to be very enjoyable and interesting.


x Playtime - sadly this game is very short, you can finish it after around 4-6 hours. It might help extend it's duration if you just walk around in the woods, the scenery is beautiful and perfect to expand your screenshot library.

x Low Replay Value - pratically nonexistent. No achievements, no side stories. After you finish it, it basically becomes the best walking simulator in your game library (which might be fine for some).

Playing "The Vanishing of Ethan Carter" was like going to a really good restaurant - you pay for the quality, not the quantity - because even though it's quite short, everything about it is close to being perfect. 9/10
Posted: October 24
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.6 hrs on record
This game is gorgeous, not only that but it is also compelling and intriguing. I was very quickly drawn into the world, and I stayed there until I had completed everything.

It is a short game, but a very nice ride, with a wonderful soundtrack.
Posted: October 18
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.9 hrs on record
Simply the best story-game i ever played. I cant tell more without spoiling.
Posted: October 20
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5 of 6 people (83%) found this review helpful
6.1 hrs on record
Fantastic game. At one point I was so scared that I had to stop playing the game, honestly haven't been this scared in any entertainment medium ever.
Best looking game I have ever seen. The use of photogrammetry to create the photo realistic environments left me completely stunned and being able to run a beautiful game like this on 4k was a HUGE plus(it's very well optimized)
Story was really interesting. Kept me intruiged and entertained throughout the entire game and it was paced so well and the lack of hand holding combined with the lack of UI got me completely immersed and made me feel like a detective.
I also love the business model. A short game(almost like a double length movie) for a fair price. I crave more games like this.
The music is awesome. It's beautiful and it has just the right amount of scary moments and upbeat moments to keep you playing and keep you interested in whats going to happen next.

I livestreamed everything on my twitch channel ( and I have never played a game that has generated more highlight worthy moments. I will definitely buy the collectors edition to support the devs and get that lovely soundtrack.
Posted: October 17
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.8 hrs on record
Wow. This game started so incredible. Graphics, Atmosphere, Gameplay, Story. I thought this is one of the greatest games ive ever player. The first two murders were so incredible. the first sidequests were very cool too. But then it makes a big step backwards, the murders become easy to solve and i rly didnt like the ending, well, i think it suxx big time :-/

like they ran out of ideas after the first part of the game..

its still a cool game, but its rather interesting as really good.

and it is very short too
Posted: October 18
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
8.4 hrs on record
Wonderful Game, Way to short. While I was leda to believe there was exploration, this made me think of skyrim. and that was my mistake for comparing anything to skyrim!

This game is more linear in objectives than the impression given by the makers and producers of the game, but...I love it. I am torn between my OCD story telling and Love of Horror to complain too much.

All in All The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was a delight for me to play and I really hope to see more games just like this one with bigger maps and more freedom on Quests.

Beautiful and refreshing Horror Mystery Concept. I absolutely Recommend this game, it was, regaurdless of my sadness that it ended so quickly, it was worth every penny and I enjoyed every second of it.

I was able to play this game on the lowest graphics smoothly on my Surface Pro with HD Graphics 4000 and it still wowed me. This game felt more alive than Most games today.
Posted: October 18
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.5 hrs on record
Game is very short but delivers a whole lot of emotions. Graphically it is insane how they managed to offer this level of detail and immersion with the Unreal Engine 3.

The story is amazing and narration is more than perfect. A little bit longer maybe, but I don't regret having bought it full price. 95/100
Posted: October 19
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
1.8 hrs on record
Nearly two hours of gametime and I can tell that the developers have done a good job at creating a strong eerie atmosphere.

Feels like an horror title from time to time
But recommend it if its on sale
Posted: October 20
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
8.2 hrs on record
9.5/10. This game was fantastic. It has been a long time since I found a game that I was desperate to play more of. This game delivers a purely story driven experience with simplistic controls that is presented in a new and refreshing way using gameplay mechanics not seen before. The end came too soon and I am desperate for another game of this type from the same developers. There are no difficulty settings and the game does not "hold your hand"(This is an actualy thing the game tells you that it does not do). This makes the game difficult in a few places where you may be wondering where to go but helps with immersion as there is no HUD and you are free to take in the GORGEOUS environement with no distractions. This game is ♥♥♥♥ING GORGEOUS by the way. Worth the money just to see what developers can do with map/level design and visual blow the ♥♥♥♥ out of your mind ♥♥♥♥! Although this game only took 8 hours to play and seems to have very little replay value I highly suggest that everyone pick it up as it has a solid plot that will leave you with a rockhardon for good stories and make you wonder why the ♥♥♥♥ you played BF4's campaign. If you like mystery/suspense(somewhat) and want to remember why video games are the ♥♥♥♥ then this is the one. Everyone is ♥♥♥♥♥ing about how it was too short but just take your time with it. If you're like me 95% of the story based games in your library aren't completed and it's really nice to play a shorter game that I was able to finish in a decent amount of time that didn't give me an extra 8 hours of filler that was slow and annoying. Content that is in the game is full and enjoyable. If you really don't think it's worth the $20 then put it on your wishlist(please, please do this, it's such a good game) and buy it as soon as it goes on sale. Now go forth master race and enjoy!
Posted: October 20
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.0 hrs on record
Great game with light "paranormal activities" in the air, fantasy mixed with sci-fi and detective books :) Great Mix, And Great Final.
Posted: October 20
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
4.8 hrs on record
Yes. I Highly recommend this game. The adventure and discovery will leave its impression on you.
It's one of those games I really hope to be able to play with VR someday.

It's also a type of game I really to see more of !
Posted: October 18
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
4.2 hrs on record
This game came out of nowhere from developers no one knew AND IT BLEW MY MIND BY HOW BEAUTIFUL, OPTIMIZED, GRAPHICALLY IMPRESSIVE, CREEPY, MYSTICAL and IMMERSIVE it was!

The story... I ain´t starting about it since everything would be a spoiler. But it´s about a detective searching for a boy named Ethan who went missing.

Gameplaywise there is not much to say except that it´s an First Person Adventure game with puzzles and freakin awesome moments! This game is all about its mystical moments, the clever designed and not too hard, yet not too easy either, puzzles. The chronology puzzle which you will do several times but gets never boring, since it tells the story and after being so immersed in it, is the main gameplay element in it. You always really want to know the next piece of the story.

So, the story is ♥♥♥♥ing fantastic! The whole world is mystical, it OOZES atmosphere and it even creeps you out sometimes. It´s not big but the overall game pacing is slow so you easily get 3 to 4 hrs out of this game. It´s worth every penny! I recommend it for anyone who love slow paced, mystical creepy adventures with a beautifully written story on a location graphically so impressive... it blew me away.... especially if you were all 420 and.... jeezuz this game was hella lot fun! <3 A ride I will soon not forget. Support these developers. They are going places!
Posted: October 19
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.1 hrs on record
The most notable thing about this game is its stunning graphics and the beautiful world that completely holds your attention for the four hours or so it takes to complete. Despite the short completion time the game has a fairly slow pace, giving you time to really soak in the environment as you walk from puzzle to puzzle. There's no real explanation given as to how to solve the puzzles but seeing as they are largely straight forward I never found myself frustrated (with the exception of the infamous mine puzzle). Although not hard, the lack of any hints really made finding a solution that much more rewarding. 

The story is fairly interesting and carries a sense of mystery all the way until the end. The story might not stick in your head in the way something like "Gone Home" might, but it holds your attention throughout. It's primarily going to be the environment that keeps you wanting to explore. That said, the ending I found particularly good, I want to stress though that the ending seems to generate polarizing opinions. 

Looking to the cons, there really weren't that many, The mine stands out though, it's fairly visually uninteresting, and also contains the most irritating puzzle in the game. Sometimes it could be argued that certain spaces were lit poorly and as a result you really missed out on seeing all there was to see. I did also encounter one bug in my play through, it lead to the game becoming unresponsive and I lost maybe 15 minutes of progress. It didn't repeat though and just seemed like on of those unlucky things that can randomly occur in most games. 

I think you'd probably enjoy this game if you liked "Ether One" or to a lesser extent "Dear Esther". Overall I was quite pleased with what I got for my £15. I have little doubt I'll be loading it up again soon, but not to play through the story again, just to wander through the map. It's solid game that managed to really do a lot with such a short run time. It doesn't run for any longer than it needs to nor does it cram every second with gameplay or exposition. The time between the puzzles really gives you a chance to reflect on the mystery and enjoy the beautiful game world. 

Posted: October 18
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.3 hrs on record
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a short, but sweet journey. Is often labeled as more of an expierence, than a game, but you will find it to be far more interactive than the advanture games it is often compared to.

Best experienced in 1 evening, so clear 4 hours in your schedule, turn off the lights, and remember to stop and look at the breathtaking scenery.
Posted: October 18
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.5 hrs on record
The visuals are stunning. The location of the game is actually somewhere in estearn europe and not wisconsin (judged by architecture and apperance of the infrastructure). Which makes sense given that the developers are from Poland. The immersion and suspense is complete, supported with great background music.

The story is ok. Interesting enough to keep you going, but weird and unpolished in places. After all is done it will leave you with a big "what was that all about?"

The story Is way too short. The world is fairly big (area of the game world), but it's severly limited in places you can actually explore and in what you can do. The puzzles you have to solve are so simple it feels almost like a interactive movie, not a game.
Posted: October 18
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.7 hrs on record
An excellent single-player experience, might leave you a bit confused, but will certainly give you some awesome scenes to enjoy. It looks and sounds amazing, too. Catch my full review on Epic Brew .
Posted: October 23
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.2 hrs on record
It's really amazing but short, the environment beauty is amazing set your PoV to higher value so you can appreciate the beauty of the game.

BRAVO for this one! I really enjoy, I wish there was a sequel for this one.
Posted: October 18
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.4 hrs on record
Excellent experience. This is a very beautiful, very surreal thriller. Find a 3-4 hour block where you can play this start to end because you won't want to put it down. 5/5.
Posted: October 19
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.6 hrs on record
Excellent game, very sad at the end however I enjoyed the seneary and the whole adventure/investigation mechanics. What stunning sceneary. Well done
Posted: October 18
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