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 (176 reviews) - 86% of the 176 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Overall:
Very Positive (6,013 reviews) - 89% of the 6,013 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 (176 reviews)
Overall:
Very Positive (6,013 reviews)
Recently Posted
Javivo
( 4.0 hrs on record )
Posted: July 27
It's a beautyful game, carefully designed and with a really immersive scenario. It tells a story which you have to discover all by yourself, giving almost no clues to fathom what's going on and where Ethan actually is (which is a good thing for a deeper experience). I have to say that it's a good story and with an unexpected twist... And that's all I can say in its favor.

Because.

IT TOOK ME LIKE 3 HOURS TO FINISH THE GAME.

And that is just too litlle for the price it has, even though I paid "only" 5€ in the SummerSale for an experience that it's not worth enough and of course not as much as the developer wants you to believe.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Lobo
( 6.8 hrs on record )
Posted: July 26
When I realized of the great revelation in the ending chapter of "The Vanishing of Ethan Carter", I almost burst to tears, not only for the deep amount of sadness and melancholy of knowing the unexpected truth, but also of how beautifuly this story had been told, the acts and misteries along the tracking of the missing boy. Of how the story unfolds itself through the eyes of the detective Paul Prospero, as he tries to find 12-years-old Ethan Carter by following the clues written on the letter by the kid. Is he still alive?
This was, no fear to admite it, one of the most shocking, powerful and memorable experiences ever achieved in a videogame. More than a game, this was... a emotional healing scar,
Helpful? Yes No Funny
essekappa47
( 0.4 hrs on record )
Posted: July 26
Well, where do I begin? i want to be short on this 'cause maybe too many words would waste what is the taste of this game.
It is not the usual game, that has to be said. You will not shoot, you will walk and you will think in this game followin' the beautifull story. This game is like tasting a good cigar while sipping a strong glass of whiskey.
It truly involve your thoughts while you're lookin at the scenarios. And oh my Gosh the Graphic is AMAZING.

This is not too long to play but this is game art, not trash.
This is maybe a point of start for something even better. And this is damn good!
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Mister Olga
( 0.4 hrs on record )
Posted: July 26
Please don't mind the time I played this. I played it offline and Steam doesn't seem to count that. I am at about five hours total.

I can recommend this game. When I finished it, I had goosebumps for quite some time and I kept on listening to the soundtrack afterwards. I played and finished the game in one session, therefore I was deeply connected to the story and the character(s). The story itself is interesting, although with a somewhat disappointing conclusion. An unusual part of this game is that you can technically ignore almost the whole number of sidequests. The world is almost completely accessable from the beginning. But I don't want to tell too much about the content.

The graphics are stunning. Unfortunately, my computer was barely fast enough to play this on low settings, but even then it was pretty. Watching the game online on maximum graphics makes my heart ache. It's just beautiful.

The story itself really captured me right from the beginning. At first I was like "who is that? what the hell are they doing to each other?" but over the course of the game I managed to recognize every character and kept track of everybody, where and when they appeared and so on. Since the game has barely any barriers, you could see parts of the story whenever you wanted, leading to situations where you suddenly understood that that particular part of the story was earlier in reality etc. Personally, I enjoyed setting up the whole storyline in my head.

I only see two real drawbacks: First, the time. As I said, it took me 4-5 hours to finish the game. But on the other hand, I luckily managed to do everything in the right order without "skipping" anything and having to backtrack too much.
Second, the glitches. Especially one of the achievements had me running back and forth, not understanding what I was doing wrong. A short online check told me to restart the game and then focus on it, and it worked. It was nonetheless rage-inducing. I heard that these glitches among many others were fixed in the Redux version that comes with the original for free. I can neither agree nor deny it since the Redux is definitely too demanding for my comfy old computer.

All in all, I strongly recommend this game to people who can enjoy atmospheric and rather slow games. As for me, it gained a "special place" in my Steam library. I must admit that I am listening to the soundtrack over and over again even now. The thing that hurts me the most is probably that I can't erase the memory and re-play it. The journey of Ethan Carter was sad and beautiful.

Oh, except that miner puzzle down below. Screw that. I almost died of a sudden scare.
Just kidding, still love the game.
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Raoul[GER]
( 4.6 hrs on record )
Posted: July 26
Recommended ✔
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2PLYR
( 4.3 hrs on record )
Posted: July 25
An excellent, quick and beautiful title that has some challenging puzzles and a hidden story that makes you earn all points. Well worth playing, even if just to view the time that was put into making the world as beautiful as it is.
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Alpha Blue
( 1.4 hrs on record )
Posted: July 25
If you had told me this game was anything other than a graphics showcase or a demo I would not have believed you. After beating the game, I just thought I had completed the intro and there was much more to come. But no, 1 hour and 20 minutes of gameplay and it was over. With a good speed run the game could easily be done in under an hour.

The game is really beautiful and I would definitely call it unique, even had some pretty cool moments but for the lack of gameplay overall it gets pretty poor negative review from me. I bought this for 80% off during a sale and I still don't feel like I got my money's worth. I think you're just expected to stumble around and do things slowly and out of order, but even then I can't imagine getting any more than 4 hours out of this.

On the bright side, it's probably one of the fastest and easiest games to get a perfect game for achievements with :p I'm not really sure if that's a good thing, but there it is.
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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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Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
10 of 10 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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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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6 of 7 people (86%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
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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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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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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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
1.5 hrs on record
Posted: July 2
A unique "walking simulator" that can be easily put on the top 3 adventure games. It successfully manages to create a truly astonishing world which you can explore and get immersed in, by using a special graphical technique called "photogrammetry". By doing so, it eliminates the "tiling effect" which can sometimes be very easily observed and can break the effect of immersion - basically, this means that almost every texture in the world created by the developers is unique: it simply looks gorgeous! And all of this is accompanied by the fact that the developers put the same amount of effort into the game's sound design, voice acting and story, all being excellent.

In conclusion, even though it is a little bit short (it took me just 4 hours to complete it - I know it says that I've only played for 1.5 hours; It is not true because I've played the Redux version, which is separated from the base game), I definitely recommend this game when it's on a sale - basically it is a steal! A must-play for every adventure enthusiast our there!
Also, be sure to play the Redux version that comes for free when you buy the game, if your computer can handle it! Not only that it comes with improved graphics and features which can be important to some, but it also fixes some gameplay aspects that some complained about.
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