[PS4 Review] The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

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Are you ready to help save Ethan Carter? You better hurry up and solve the mysteries surrounding Red Creek Valley and get to him before it’s too late.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a first-person story-driven mystery game focused on exploration and discovery.

You play the game as Paul Prospero, an occult-minded detective who receives a disturbing letter from Ethan Carter. Realizing the boy is in grave danger, Paul arrives at Ethan’s home of Red Creek Valley, where things turn out to be even worse than he imagined. Ethan has vanished in the wake of a brutal murder, which Paul quickly discerns might not be the only local murder worth looking into.

Inspired by the weird fiction and other tales of the macabre from the early twentieth century, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter aims to significantly evolve immersive storytelling in games. While it features a private detective and quite a few mental challenges, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter’s focus is on atmosphere, mood, and the essential humanity of our characters.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Trailer | PS4

Alright, first thing is first. If you intend on playing The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, then I would suggest you hold off on reading the review and just go and play it. The game lets you know at the beginning that it is a vast open world for exploration, but it will not hold your hand. Reading the review might spoil that experience, so you have been warned.


The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a new game from The Astronauts that debuted on PC last year. It is what is now being dubbed as a “First Person Experience” or FPX for short. You might have also heard the term “Walking Simulator” which is an odd one. Anyway, it is presented from a first person view but, like some other games in this genre, there is no action – no guns, no shooting, and no death. The focus is on exploration and discovery as you solve puzzles along the way.

You are in control of Paul Prospero, a paranormal detective who received a letter from Ethan, who seems to be in danger. You decide to go visit Ethan at his hometown, hoping to rescue him before it is too late yet. You will explore the town and its surrounding areas, where you’ll find out about the murders of the members of Ethan’s family which you have to solve to find out what happened to Ethan. There are also some odd occurrences happening in the town where stories that Ethan has written are coming to life, so you need to see why that is happening.


The story is awesome and definitely worth playing. No set piece is wasted and you get a great narrative from Paul on what has happened here and why things are the way they are. I’m not really going to talk more about the story as to not completely spoil things for you.

Here are some things I really wish I did know before playing the game as it might have saved me some time. The game really doesn’t hold your hand.


The first thing to mention is this is not a traditional adventure game. I thought it was at first so when I came across items like a train car, that needed a crank, I thought I would find it later and come back to use it there. No, everything you need to solve a murder or story is around that area not to far, so do not proceed until you are done with that section or you will be backtracking to solve them.

Secondly Paul does gain powers. When you arrive at a murder scene, you can hold X on the body and a little portal appears. As you put things back in place and find clues to the murder around this, it will get bigger until you recreate the murder in your mind. You can then put the order of events of the murder chronologically, allowing you to see what happened.


Finally, Paul does have another power that will help aid you in finding things you need. To use the crank again as an example, when you find where it should go the word crank appears on the screen about 15 times scattered all over. I didn’t realize what was happening here. As you look around they will centre on the location of the missing item and once all are aligned you can tap X and open a small portal/window showing you the location of what you are looking for. These tips should help you on your journey immensely.

The game is gorgeous using the Unreal 4 engine on the PlayStation 4. When you’re in the forest, it looks authentic. All of the buildings look great and are literally showing their age. This is an old area and it shows. What is most impressive is the scope. I didn’t realize until I backtracked throughout the game, but in the distance in certain places you can see other locations you will visit (or have visited) bringing this whole world together.


The sound is moody and atmospheric, while not a spooky game, it definitely creates that vibe. I was home alone and playing at night and it was spooky as I heard creeks around my house and went and checked them out. If you’re not playing in that atmosphere, I would recommend some headphones to give you the full experience with great detail and care was taken with this. All of the voice work in the game gave it a real pulpy feeling, which added to the world and the fun.

There are 14 trophies total in the game, but, unfortunately, no platinum. It won’t take long to find them all as they are essential to the story and since the game really only needs about 4 hours to complete you might spend a couple extra hours at most to get a 100% in the game.


Final Thoughts

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an unreal experience, telling an excellent story that is thought provoking which very few games can do. If you are looking for an action game, then keep looking. If you want to experience something special that you will remember for a while, then you should play The Vanishing of Ethan Carter today.


Excellent Story
Beautiful graphics in a Fully Realized World
Immersive Sound
Should explain how the game works better

Cost: $19.99

PSN Game size: 4.6 GB

You can purchase The Vanishing of Ethan Carter from the PSN store


This review is based on a PS4 copy of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter provided by The Astronauts.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @the_nmac for more reviews and live streaming from the PS4. Also follow @PS4blog_net and @PS3blogdotnet for updates on PlayStation info and reviews you need.

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Written by: the_nmac - News Contributor

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