Set in a sleepy Shropshire village in the 1980s, it’s hardly the place you’d expect the apocalypse to occur. Yet Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture completely throws out the end of days rule book in that regard. The story doesn’t follow an heroic archetype trying to stop the end of the world. Instead it puts us in the shoes of an unknown resident of this quiet village as we navigate our way through the rich world to discover why everyone has disappeared.
Originally released in August 2015, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is still one of the most beautiful games to play. Heavily criticised for a complete lack of action, the game takes a much slower approach to storytelling and it is perhaps for this reason I love it so much. Set in first person the game is essentially a walking simulator as you explore the beautifully crafted world.
Your character navigates through the empty streets and abandoned buildings to discover the village is without any sign of life. No dogs barking in the distance. No neighbours wishing you a good morning. This sense of lifelessness is what makes this game so intriguing.
As you make your way through the village you begin to discover clues in the form of posters, messages and bulletins to piece together what happened to the townspeople.
One of the most compelling aspects of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is the regular people it follows. We’re not introduced to military personnel with specialist training or government officials with all the answers. We’re introduced to ordinary people who are confused, scared and dealing with the end of the world without even knowing it.
Each area of the town follows a particular resident in their final days on earth. Through ghostly shapes of light scattered around the town, we are able to re-live conversations and moments from that character’s past to give the player an intimate look into the lives of the ordinary people that once lived in the village.
There are five key characters within the game that we follow. The first is the village priest who is helping the the community deal with the loss of their loved ones during the rapture. We are also introduced to the town gossip who only wants the best for her son and her brother who is dealing with the death of his wife.
My personal favourite section follows a character named Lizzie Graves. You learn early on that she was involved in an accident that left her crippled. She is married to a drunk she no longer loves and has fallen for a married man which has led to equal amounts of heartbreak and hope for her. Lizzie also has a different light to everybody else which leads to a significant plot point and an emotional ending for the character. SO. MANY. FEELS.
One of the key reasons for the feels is Jessica Curry’s enchanting soundtrack. I’ve never paid much attention to the music in a game before but the score feels like an extension of the game itself. From the quieter, subdue moments as you walk through the valley to the emotive endings of each character, the music helps define the evocative story.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture isn’t the most fast-paced game and a lot of the time you can feel like a passive bystander watching the story unfold. However, that story is so gorgeous and compelling that you can forgive the game for it’s lack of action. The themes of religion, love and humanity are scattered throughout the complex story that ends on a note that is open to your own interpretation.
Exploring the beautiful village of Yaughton Valley and learning about the lives of its inhabitants feels like a genuine pleasure that all gamers should experience at least once.