Words About Video Games

The Emptiness of Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

The best game stories give you a clear part to play in them. Even if you don't ultimately have much control over the game world, the stakes and your relation to them are made plain. Sometimes a late twist will change how you view those stakes, causing you to re-evaluate how you interpreted your role in the story to that point.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture does not tell one of the best game stories. And the issue isn't that gives you a gorgeous but almost entirely static world with little else to do than walk from point A to point B; the issue is that it never establishes a context, beyond an observer's idle curiosity, for the player's role. In fact, since the events portrayed are all part of the past--part of a finished story--there are no stakes for the player whatsoever. You are a (disembodied?) observer. You will not do a single thing; you will only witness wisps of light doing things.

And unlike, for example, Gone Home, you already know from the beginning how it ends. There's no tension in discovering what happened. In fact, you can guess 80% of it from the first couple of scenes, and the rest is just details.