What Kind Of Game Is ‘The Vanishing of Ethan Carter’?

By Joseph Leray

Earlier this week, the Astronauts — a Warsaw-based indie outfit founded by ex-People Can Fly devs — announced “The Vanishing of Ethan Carter,” a “weird fiction horror” game about a detective with supernatural abilities. The game is about investigating a kidnapping, and a short teaser trailer showed off the game’s vibrant, lush art direction.

But the Astronauts failed to mention what we’d actually be doing when the game comes out later this year.

Speaking with Polygon, lead designer Adrian Chmielarz admits that the game would be broadly classified as an “adventure” game, but followed up to say that “Vanishing” is “”not like any adventure I know.”

“”Sure, it’s ’adventure,’ but then so is Tomb Raider, Far Cry 3, and Journey,” he continued. “It’s not a point and click adventure. It’s not a Myst-like adventure. If you really, really need to give it a label, then it’s more of an ’interactive drama’.”

Chmielarz further elaborated in an interview with Eurogamer, mentioning that the game is in first-person, but will feature no combat at all: “ “It’s not about shooting monsters.”

“Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” he explained. “After all, I did design Painkiller and Bulletstorm and I enjoy grinding meat with bullets as much as the next guy. But I wanted to make a different kind of game for a very long time, and now it can finally happen.”

“Vanishing” will have a heavy focus on narrative as well, Chmielarz explained, foregoing difficult puzzles for “unsettling discoveries” — “Take ‘Dear Esther,’ add gameplay, murder and corpses. That’s the closest to what ‘The Vanishing of Ethan Carter’ is.” The Astronauts hope that the first-person perspective will bolster the story they have planned, betting on being able to create a sense of immersion to keep players engaged.

“This may be just me, but I get a better sense of presence in the virtual world if it happens in first-person,” Chmielarz noted. “And that sense of presence is exactly what we are after. We want the players to feel like they’re really there, shiver when it’s cold and lower their heads when it’s windy.”

[Eurogamer, Polygon]