The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter Review (Xbox One)

For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.

After nearly three and half years Xbox owners finally get to step into Paul Prospero’s shoes in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. How does the game hold up after all this time, and is it still worth playing? Well, this review is by someone who has never experienced the game before, so I was going into this blind – so who best to ask if it has stood the test of time?

At the beginning of the game you are warned that this is a story driven experience, so really it is hard to go into the story in much detail at all – as I don’t want to throw spoilers out there for people in my situation. The basics of the story is you will be in control of Paul Prospero – who is some sort of psychic detective. Who has been summoned to Red Creek by a boy named Ethan Carter via letters, and it seems like this poor boy Ethan has been through a lot. You will arrive at Red Creek, but have you arrived in time or has the worst happened? It’s your job to find out.

As well as the message at the beginning about the experience, it will also warn you that the game does not hold you by the hand, and to be honest it really doesn’t. What you will be playing is a game that falls under puzzle and point and click adventure, but it also involves a lot of walking – think in the same ilk as Firewatch. However, what the game does differently is that it really doesn’t follow any sort of structure, so you are left guessing if you have found everything needed to complete the game, which does make it seem like a walking simulator. This falls hand-in-hand with the warning given, if you are in it for the quick play-through with it being such an old title you will find a walk-through online with no issues.

I personally feel you need to experience this game how it should be played, to get the sense of achievement of doing it yourself. Yes, this can make it difficult as you might get stuck, but this game is all about the exploration of Red Creek and solving the puzzles – even if some are not one hundred percent logical or easy. But, the sense of achievement when completing the game will really be worth the struggles you might encounter.

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Going all the way back to the games original release, the presentation of the game was lauded, from the environments to the sound. Again we are now three and half years ahead, but the enhancements available now really have kept the presentations WOW! Factor. For my play-through I played it via the Xbox One X in 4K (as the patch was available on day one) and this made the game look amazing, even jaw dropping. But, for the purposes of the review I then connected to a 1080p TV and I can say it still looked great on this also, just missing that extra shine offered with the enhancements.

Add to the very crisp and clean visuals the sound, and I would say the presentation of the game becomes almost perfect. They have a well paced voice acting, and have avoided the use of those annoying voices – I really feel the team have done a better job than some of the AAA developers do in this area. When it comes to the sounds throughout the game it’s all done really well, from some of the audio cues to the noise of the environment, like the wind rustling the leaves.

Putting together the great settings and the visuals and sounds that go with them, the game does really unnerve you. Which then gives you that ultimate feelings that nothing is quite right in Red Creek – similar to how the world of Silent Hill 2 made you feel.

Given the fact this is a more of a walking and point and click game than anything the controls really are simple – as there is not much to the gameplay elements of the game, it’s all about the story. You will only being using RT to run, LT to zoom, B to crouch and A to interact and that is it, but in turn it is all it needs.

One thing you might find with the game is it is short in length, overall the game took me around three and half hours to complete. This included some extra exploration of Red Creek, but I have then probably spent over an hour on free roam mode taking in all the sights of Red Creek. However, where some people are not happy with games this length anything longer would really ruin what The Vanishing of Ethan Carter wants to offer – for me a great game never overstays its welcome.


Where the length and lack of help/direction could be a deterrent for you, I would seriously recommend giving The Vanishing of Ethan Carter a chance. Everything about the game is so polished be it the engrossing story, the presentation and the uneasy feeling the game gives you, it makes for an outstanding game/experience. This will really leave a lasting impression in your memory, and will stay with you – I really do recommend this game to everyone.

Version Played: Xbox One X (with enhancements)

  1. germanrifter

    Great Review man!
    I played this game on PC several times (in 1080p and VR Oculus Rift) and really enjoyed it. In fact it was one of my favourite Games when I played it in 2015. The Photogrammetry is a big eyecatcher and was the reason I bought it but the story and for me the ending was very satisfiying.
    This one falls in the socalled WALKING SIMULATOR genre and many people don’t enjoy that type of game. In my opinion it was a nice and rewarding experience that also made me buy for example firewatch which I highly recommend if you are looking for a short game that is relaxing and story driven.
    I would recommend it for everybody who enjoys a good story and is looking for a game that you can play in one sitting/day/weekend.

    cheers, germanrifter

    • Paul Manton

      I know, when I was playing it I thought this really needed a VR adaption, might have to buy it on PC to play it in VR at some point.

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