Review by Alyx Jones
Edited by Sam Hughes
Developer: The Astronauts
Composers: Mikolai Stroinski, Marcin Przybyłowicz
Sound designer: Marcin Przybyłowicz
Reviewed on: Playstation 4
We also have our Interview with Mikolai Stroinski to listen to at your leisure :).
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an open exploration, horror game set in 1973 in the fictional hometown of Ethan Carter; Red Creek Valley, Wisconsin. The game follows paranormal investigator, Paul Prospero, in a first person adventure, following letters written by Prospero’s fan Ethan.
Red Creek Valley, despite it’s emptiness and isolation is incredibly beautiful. There are many times in the game where it seems more important to look around, appreciate the scenery and soundscapes rather than continue with uncovering the story. At first I didn’t understand how to uncover clues, I just saw scribbled words and didn’t realize they could be aligned. The game does boast the fact it won’t hold your hand through gameplay, and your experience is yours to have however you choose.
Award winning composer Mikolai Stroinski (Witcher 3, Dark Souls 2) brings a haunting yet beautiful soundtrack to the game. As an open exploration game, a main track is played while exploring the surrounding environment and landscape. It’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security by the gentle piano and strings accompanied by singing birds and the wind through the trees. However when we near something of interest, for example enter an abandoned house, the music and sound just drop out, greeting the player with an uncomfortable silence. It reflects the unnatural presence in Red Creek Valley and portrays the feeling of exploring an abandoned village alone. The music application is particularly effective as the music is never overused and works well in enabling the sound design to shine through in the right places.
Sound designer, Marcin Przybyłowicz creates gorgeous soundscapes in working with Stroinski again, after their previous work together on Witcher 3. The sound design complements the entire game’s breathtaking scenery and ensures our experience is one not to be forgotten. Because the music is never overused, the sound design plays a really important part in shaping our emotions throughout the game. In certain places such as in the mines and when we visit the dam, noises of the lost miners, or the turbines and roar of the water amplifies the situations and environments as we often hear things before we can see them.
Although I’m not a fan of horror games, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter only particularly scared me when we were stuck in the mines (although I did miss walking through any traps at the beginning somehow), so it’s definitely worth braving for a few jump scares. I can’t really fault the game audio wise, it’s a beautiful experience, with spot on music and sound design.
To see me play The Vanishing of Ethan Carter:
The Sound Architect