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    The Vanishing of Ethan Carter


    TG AceoHearts

    What happens when you mix a walking simulator with a murder mystery that has ties to the occult?  You get the newest release from The Astronauts – The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.  A non-linear game that lets you take control of your adventure and the story.

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      You play as Paul Prospero, an occult minded detective who is brought to Red Creek Valley, the home of Ethan Carter.  Carter has written him a disturbing letter about the events taking place in his home town.  Realizing the boy is in trouble, you rush to his aid, but when you arrive Ethan is missing, there has been a brutal murder, and something strange is going on.

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      Game play is completely non-linear.  As the game begins you start walking on a set of railroad tracks discussing the letter you received to yourself.  The direction of the tracks is the only real direction you get in the game.  Soon you will discover a crime scene and will have to uncover all the clues to recreate the crime.  You will even be able to visualize what happened.  Once you complete this recreation, it is up to you to figure out how to advance the story.

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      You are set free to wander in a good-sized world.  There are boundaries, but you are free to explore the woods, buildings, roads, and town to your hearts content.  One of the best features of the game is the non-linear nature of it.  Unfortunately, this is also the game’s biggest downfall.  Without a clear direction, you can wander around for an hour or more trying to find the next story section.

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      The game has stunning visuals.  I played it on an X Box One X, and it ran smoothly at the highest frame rate setting.  The attention to detail in the environments is amazing.  You can stand in the forest, look up and watch the light dance off individual leaves as they sway in the breeze.  You can hear the wind blowing through the those leaves and birds singing.  Throughout the game you are treated to a haunting soundtrack.

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      The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is now available on XB1, PS4 and Steam.  The title carries a price tag of $19.99, which isn’t a bad price considering the amount of time that can be spent exploring.  Just know that you are getting into a completely unguided gaming experience that will require you to figure out what you need to do every step of the way.

                                          9/10

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