(The Astronauts for PS4)
By Mike Delano
Eerie PC hit The Vanishing of Ethan Carter won accolades upon its release last year for its gorgeous visuals and offbeat narrative. Now, as it makes its debut on consoles, it’s easy to see what the buzz was about. You take on the role of an investigator searching for the titular character in a lush, bucolic setting. As you wander through forests, along train tracks and inside houses in a first person viewpoint, you’ll spot clues you can piece together to try and make sense of what exactly happened in this abandoned town. The story is consistently engaging as it unravels, and its minimalist style is a refreshing change from so many game narratives that leave no room for interpretation. What stays with you most about the game, though, is the incredible rural Pennsylvanian setting. Many games have sparsely populated environments simply because their developers didn’t have the time or resources to render them more vividly, and the player fills in the blanks with his or her imagination. In Vanishing, the abandoned setting is entirely intentional, allowing your imagination to dart off in completely different directions, from envisioning the town’s slow decline to pondering if a place designed for everyday life can still have a soul without any inhabitants. It’s certainly a journey worth taking to discover where your own imagination wanders as you comb through these modern day ruins.