Last year when we reviewed the original PC version of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter reviewer Jeremy Meyer had this to say "The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a game that will stand in the same league as Telltale’s The Walking Dead and be a game worth talking about for years to come." Developer, The Astronauts has ported a PS4 version of the game over utilizing the power of Unreal Engine 4. Even in 2015 those sentiments of the game still hold true as this version of the game shines just as well as the PC version, if not better.The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is essentially a third person adventure game about the vanishing of a young boy named Ethan Carter. You are Paul Prospero, a detective who took the case after some pretty convincing fan letters from Ethan. Prospero isn't your normal detective however. He has supernatural abilities that he uses to help solving cases.
Outside of wit, these powers are Prospero's main tool in solving the games many mysteries. The game's narrative is one is it's strongest selling points. There really isn't any interaction with other people in the game so Prospero's narration is a welcomed addition that keeps things from being "too quiet."
Graphically, the PS4 version of the game looks just as stunning as the PC versions. Unreal Engine 4 even makes some areas look better than their PC counterparts. Other areas such as water physics fail in comparison. There are other graphical options the player can take advantage of. You can lock the framerate at 30 frames-per-second or play unlocked, change your field of view, and camera smoothing. These are useful tools that allow you to tweak small things to improve your overall experience of the game.
Minute details such as those wouldn't be as important normally but The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is just such an incredibly atmospheric experience. When you start the game, it literally tells you it won't hold your hand. This was proved to be true about one minute later when I laid eyes on what looked to be a beautiful painting. This "painting" was actually the world I was intended to explore. There aren't any mission markers, maps, or any other HUD's to speak of. I was lost immediately and I loved it. I was lost in this gorgeous world with absolutely no idea what to do.
Navigating through forest and hearing my footsteps on the foliage, watching the sun shine over the lake, listening to the roar of the wind all just felt so natural. This world feels amazingly authentic. After sightseeing and taking screenshots every couple of steps I decided it was time to make some progress.
The game is filled with puzzles that must be solved to gain information on Ethan. These puzzles usually end with some sort of vision of what occurred in the past or some sort of clue of what's to come. I found some puzzles hard in the beginning until I started getting a grasp of how things worked in this world. You use your supernatural abilities to do things such as find the location of a missing piece or see things that can't be seen with the natural eye. Each puzzle was unique and stood out in their own way.
The mines section of the game still remains the one area that breaks the immersion. It doesn't feel like it should have been a part of the game then, and it still doesn't now. Outside of that mishap the remainder of the puzzles are entertaining and challenging enough. There also isn't a specific order in which they must be done. This is a game that truly throws you into a mysterious virtual playground and allows you to explore however you so choose.
The PS4 version of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an amazing port of one of last year's best adventure games. The strong narrative, complex puzzles, and amazing graphically prowess makes this mystery one worth solving.
Writer for Darkstation since 2014. I've been playing games my whole life and starting writing about them in 2010. Outside of gaming I enjoy anime and watching my Philadelphia Eagles let me down every Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @jsparis09