Polish developer The Astronauts, formerly of Bullestorm dev People Can Fly, has posted a gameplay video with commentary from its upcoming “weird horror fiction,” The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.
For 13 minutes you can see the bucolic lake valley where the game’s mystery is set as one of the lead designers explains some of the core mechanics.
We’ve been intrigued by The Vanishing of Ethan Carter ever since its announcement in early 2013. Unlike the monsters-in-your-face horror of latter day Dead Space games, this game appears to derive its terror from quiet exploration and the unknown.
You play Paul Prospero, a detective searching for answers in the mysterious disappearance of a boy named Ethan Carter, utilizing a Pushing Daisies-reminiscent ability to talk to the dead and find out what happened to them. The whole thing sounds right out of H.P. Lovecraft.
A large part of the game, showcased in the trailer, involves carefully examining locations to piece together what transpired there. The protagonist’s inner monologue sets the scene as you cross a bridge, invoking the hard-boiled detective of film noir. The same text used to subtitle the narration appears, hovering over objects of interest as you scan your surroundings, a layer of inferred information on top of the game’s physical space.
This comes off as a more streamlined solution to the Detective Mode used somewhat crudely in the Arkham games to represent Batman’s investigatory prowess. While investigating a body discovered by some train tracks in Ethan Carter, you are asked to propose a sequence of events that corresponds to the clues you have found in the surrounding area. It looks like a fresh attempt at turning deduction into game mechanics, with a hint of the supernatural.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter will come out for PC on September 25, 2014, and then for PlayStation 4 sometime the following year.