The Astronauts, a Polish indie triumvirate of ex-People Can Fly founders, crash landed into Videogame World earlier this year by announcing "The Vanishing of Ethan Carter," a weird fiction horror story about a detective with spooky abilities. Today, they've released the mysterious new game's first screenshots.
"Weird fiction" is a term used to describe a type of horror writing popularized at the end of the last century by people like, most famously, H. P. Lovecraft and Ambrose Bierce. Think the occult, supernatural beings, cosmic abominations, that sort of thing. Weird fiction often has a kind of scientific or naturalistic feel about it, even as it tends to grapple with incomprehensibly strange subject matter.
In other words, a goat skull in a pool of blood is probably pretty par for the course for "Ethan Carter" -- prepare for weird metaphysics and inter-dimensional cuttlefish deities. Since the game doesn't use cut scenes, you can assume that these screenshots are in-game, according to the developers.
Along with the screens (embedded below), the Astronauts have also given us a fuller picture of the game's premise: we'll play as Paul Prospero, a private eye. His newest case is to investigate the disappearance (or kidnapping, or murder, or abduction, or …) of one eponymous Ethan Carter.
Prospero -- which is surely a reference the The Tempest -- has a handful of detective skills (some normal, some not) at his disposal as he gathers clues and sets off into the Wisconsin wilderness to track down little Ethan. For a more formal introduction to our occultist gumshoe, the Astronauts have a prequel comic available here.
From earlier accounts, we know that "Ethan Carter" is going to be a non-violent first-person game with a heavy focus on mood and atmosphere and exploration. "'The Vanishing of Ethan Carte'r is our own attempt to tell a multi-layered story while keeping the player completely immersed and constantly engaged--with the unique sense of presence only video games can offer," reads a more recent press release.
As it stands, "Ethan Carter" is a PC-only game, though the developers "hope" to bring it to next-gen consoles eventually. There's no release date yet, but "it's question of months … not years."
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter