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'Rapture' barely a game

Aug 18, 2015

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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Everybody's Gone to the RaptureI have always been a sucker for a good storyline. I had fun with Destiny, Evolve and Titanfall for about a month or so, then lost interest. It is not that they aren't great games, they are, it is just that without a narrative, I cannot bring myself to be become invested in the experience.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is the complete opposite. It is all story, and a mediocre one at that, with virtually no gameplay at all. It has been called an "adventure game", however, there are no puzzles to solve (physical or otherwise), no challenges to overcome, no real riddles to deduce. It requires absolutely no skill at all to play. If you can walk around a virtual environment, turn a controller to the side and hit just one button, you are more than good to go. Encapsulated, the entire experience is walking around a very large village, very, very slowly, clicking the X button to open doors, gates and turning your controller to the left or right to unlock a scene. Adventure? What adventure? 'Rapture' is a lethargic tour of an English village, a walking and door opening simulator and not much else.

Everybody's Gone to the RaptureAt first, the experience is intriguing. The entire population of Shropshire has disappeared into thin air after a mysterious set of circumstances. Cigarettes are still burning in ashtrays. Toys, bicycles and vehicles are scattered about, seemingly left right where their owners vanished. Every home, every building, every camp site, every farm, every park is eerily lifeless. No people. No animals. No nothing…except strange, floating balls of light leading you on your journey of discovery.

Yeah, you don't even have to find your way. Just follow the bouncing balls of light and you will be fine.

While the first hour is curious and unnerving at times, things really begin to stall and sputter after that. Unable to run, ride a bike or get behind the wheel of a vehicle, you are forced to trudge around the expansive village and its surrounding areas at a snail's pace. You just march along from one place to another, checking out another empty dwelling or area.

Everybody's Gone to the RaptureWhether you believe the disappearances are the result of invading aliens, a government conspiracy or a rampant, unstoppable disease or a combination of those theories; you don't need to flex your I.Q. or brain matter to figure out the Shropshire mystery. As you track the floating lights, all is revealed as scenes from the past play out before you, some for what seems like an eternity and some with no relevance at all. Who you are, why you are there, what the balls of lights are and why you can see into the past is never explained, because, one assumes, it is more arty and cooler that way. Sure, okay.

You don't get to see the actual people in the scenes either. They are represented by balls of light and dialogue. The six main characters are vividly brought to life though. You learn about their lives, their hopes, their fears and their strengths and weaknesses. It is just sometimes what they are conveying doesn't really propel the story along and that routinely gums up the momentum and amps up the tediousness.

Everybody's Gone to the RaptureThe story itself is not very compelling. 'Rapture' hits us with yet another post-apocalyptic scenario with all the usual human in-fighting and vagueness we have come to expect from the overworked genre. Keeping in mind the mechanics themselves (or lack thereof), the hours of slow as molasses trekking, opening of doors and gates, and those verbose cutscenes you have to endure, the purposely ambiguous conclusion doesn't make any of what you have gone through worthwhile. There is no rewarding payoff for all of your patience and that is perhaps the most damning indictment of all.

Calling 'Everybody's Gone to the Rapture' a game is really stretching things. It has as much depth as one of those interactive exhibits at your local museum. Follow the rail that guides you, watch the scenes unfold, open door after door and take a very, very, very long leisurely stroll. One wonders why developers, The Chinese Room, didn't just spend their time making a movie, animated or otherwise, as there really is no game to play here. All Rapture's interactivity is just as entirely passive as watching a movie or television show unspool before your eyes.

If you are looking for something to challenge you, something to stir your imagination, something to connect with on a personal or emotional level, you won't find it here. 'Rapture' is as empty experience as Shropshire itself, unless of course, your idea of a good time is a prolonged leisurely strolls and opening lots and lots of doors and gates, for hours and hours.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture Everybody's Gone to the Rapture
Format: PlayStation 4
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: The Chinese Room, SCE Santa Monica Studio
ESRB Rating: M for Mature

Official Site: http://www.thechineseroom.co.uk/games/everybodys-gone-to-the-rapture/

Rating: 3 / 10

 
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About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.