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 (4,724 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.


“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
257 of 259 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.).
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124 of 137 people (91%) found this review helpful
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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69 of 71 people (97%) 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.
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50 of 51 people (98%) 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.
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97 of 143 people (68%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: February 28
-Really awesome graphics
-Weird quirky stuff all around

-Save system commits you to playing for long stretches of time
-Very easy to completley miss whole sections of the game if you move too fast

This game is probably only for serious fans of mystery style games. But the save system litterally made it unplayable because I have no choice but to forfiet what little progress has been made if I cannot solve a chapter in one sitting. Any gamer with a 1 year old will understand the challenge presented.
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