“DO NOT PANIC… REMAIN CIVIL AND CALM”, a British official instructs through the radio. The calendar reads June 6th 1984, and the world is about to end.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture takes place in the abandoned village of Youghton, out in the British countryside, where the villagers got caught up in the apocalypse and are missing.
But this isn’t a story about saving the world. It’s too late for that. All that remains now is to try to make sense of what happened: to search out the traces of these villagers’ lives and learn their stories – how they lived, and how they died.
As you traverse the valley, you uncover details about the apocalypse and learn about the lives of six of these missing villagers. Part of this storytelling happens through your encounters with breaches in space and time: these fragments can reveal scenes from the lives of the six characters or lead you to noteworthy locations.
Another way in which you can discover story is “through recorded devices… radios, TVs, phones… everything capable of carrying an electrical signal…“, as Chinese Room’s creative director Dan Pinchbeck put it in an interview with IGN back in March.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture takes you on a HUD-free adventure where you set the pace and decide which parts of the story to discover, and in which order. If you want to learn all there is to know about these six characters, each of the stories will take about 45 minutes to an hour to discover, which should add up to six or seven hours of gameplay.
It has taken Chinese Room two-and-a-half years to put together this very British apocalypse. Like with Dear Esther, they’ve kept the atmosphere of game at the forefront of their mind; after they put the story elements in, they grew the world by 50% to give us space to breathe and reflect between each piece of the story we uncover.
As their creative director puts it, Chinese Room wants to push games as a storytelling medium: “this is not a film story. It’s not a novel. This story could only exist in a game.”
The PS4-exclusive Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture releases on August 11th.