Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

The spiritual successor to Dear Esther transcends the original in every way.

Key events

We are living in a new golden age of video game music, and by way of a celebration there will be a lavish orchestral concert at the Royal Albert Hall at the end of the month (Wednesday, 30th May). It's called PlayStation in Concert and will feature an 80-piece Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, plus City of London Choir, bringing PlayStation music to life. Oh, and a light show.

After the darkness and dormancy of winter life restarts, almost as if the punishing frosts, snows and winds had never happened. The season of spring starts to take hold, colours reappear, foliage regrows and landscapes transform to offer different looks, feels and opportunities for interaction. This can be truly impactful when it manifests in video games. Where winter revealed the bones of landscapes and their design, spring brings a softer touch, its re-birth and revitalisation draping life and colour back over lands. Spring can empower a landscape to represent and symbolise in its own way. By adding these into games' story arcs and narratives, a whole new side of the landscape can be seen and experienced - one where the land tells stories of recovery, shows an ability to cleanse and has an ability to enhance peace and quiet, all while under the drape of a colourful, full of life landscape, giving the land an entirely new look and atmosphere.

FeatureThe doors close on The Chinese Room - for now

"We're done with walking simulators."

Just under a year after the launch of Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, a "walking simulator" about dealing with loss in Shropshire in 1984, it won three BAFTAs. For its developer The Chinese Room, it seemed things couldn't get any better. Fans anxiously awaited the studio's next big project. They're still waiting.

Creative Europe spills beans on games including The Chinese Room's Little Orpheus

UPDATE: 11 bit says Dreamtime is its next big thing.

UPDATE 24TH AUGUST: 11 bit Studios has told me Dreamtime (and Project 8, a name seen in some places) is a working title for the company's next big thing. Former Witcher developer Artur Ganszyniec is leading a team making something "totally different" to games 11 bit has done before, senior marketing manager Karol Zajączkowski told me. But until Frostpunk is finished and released we won't hear anything more.

Classic FM to launch a new video game music show

Classic FM to launch a new video game music show

And the composer of Everybody's Gone to the Rapture will present it.

Classic FM will launch a new video game music show.

The station will host the UK's first weekly radio series dedicated to symphonic video game music - and Everybody's Gone to the Rapture composer and The Chinese Room co-founder Jessica Curry will present it.

The six-week series starts on 22nd April and will run every Saturday from 9pm to 10pm. Worth keeping an eye on!

Read more

Face-Off: Everybody's Gone to the Rapture on PC

Digital FoundryFace-Off: Everybody's Gone to the Rapture on PC

The Chinese Room's technological showcase gets a hardware upgrade.

A PS4 exclusive until now, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture's PC release is unusual - not least for Sony Santa Monica's hand in publishing and funding the project. However, the shift in platform means developer The Chinese Room can bolster the game's already impressive visuals with even higher-grade visual fidelity. But in pushing CryEngine 3 to greater heights on PC, is this really the best way to play the game, and what do PlayStation 4 users actually miss?

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture relies on the same physically-based lighting on PC to achieve a gorgeous, almost photorealistic take on a Shropshire-inspired village. It's among the best uses of this rendering method we've seen to date; materials for frosted glass, brickwork and woodwork across its Tudor-style pub fall eerily close to the genuine article. But to augment the experience, PC adds quality settings for textures, shadows and object detail - which go from low to very high, in some respects enhancing visual aspects over PS4.

Viewed up-close, PS4's geometry, foliage, and core texture-work are identical to PC's best. However Sony's machine falls visibly short in its use of texture filtering across roads, with signs of a trilinear approach causing a blur on the ground. PC uses a higher-grade 16x anisotropic filtering at the very high texture preset, and it's surprising to see filtering on the low preset is still ahead of PS4 in overall clarity. Viewed dead-on, assets actually show little change in switching between each setting, but the grade of filtering is certainly in flux as we move between each.

Read more

The Chinese Room teases isometric RPG Total Dark

Tabletop inspired RPG coming to PC.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs developer The Chinese Room has revealed that its next game will be an isometric RPG called Total Dark. That's a far cry from its previous work that's all more or less fallen under the dreadful "walking simulator" moniker.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture confirmed for PC

BAFTA-nominated PlayStation 4 adventure Everybody's Gone to the Rapture will get a release on PC.

The game was previously spotted on Steam's database and in patch notes for the most recent AMD graphics drivers. Now, Brighton-based developer The Chinese Room has made it official.

There's no release date yet, but from the previous sightings of the game it would seem close to release.

Read more

There's a shot in the war movie The Thin Red Line that I can't stop thinking about: soldiers scattered over a distant hill, crouched in the grass, waiting. What happens? Nothing. Or rather, nothing you can type into a shooting script and then stick on the screen. But at the same time, everything happens: the mood shifts, the calm breaks. And all because the light has changed: a cloud moving across the sky, a darkening, a transition.

From its opening shot, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture shows precisely how its three-year development was spent. It's an absolutely gorgeous PlayStation 4 title that puts its bucolic visuals front and centre - where CryEngine is tasked to render a picturesque Shropshire village. Developer The Chinese Room uses the engine's superb lighting and post effects to ramp up the atmosphere. But with such a determined drive towards photo-realism, has its frame-rate been overlooked?

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is a narrative-driven exploration game to enjoy at your own leisure. Some players are finding it a bit too leisurely, however, since the PlayStation 4 exclusive has a fairly slow walking speed and no apparent option to run.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture review

One of the most dexterous words in English literature is things. Being flexible and useful is the entire point of a word like things, of course, but still: watch it sing in a book like I Capture the Castle or Cold Comfort Farm. Shall I clear away the tea things? That, I would argue, is the Early 20th Century English Novel Sentence par excellence. I didn't even look it up: I'm just assuming that Dodie Smith and Stella Gibbons will have both landed on it through sheer cultural resonance. How could they not? There will be tea so there will be tea things, and it's only polite to ask when you're thinking about getting rid of them, isn't it? And look what the word things is doing in that sentence! It is creating a friendly out-of-focus clutter of everyday objects, a nimbus of impedimenta. It is suggesting that even the most mindless of routines like serving a pot of Earl Grey will have a quiet exactitude to it, often requiring the use of tools. Life is ritual. Brew up.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Read more

Watch Everybody's Gone To The Rapture's mysterious launch trailer

Dear Esther developer The Chinese Room has released a new trailer for its latest mystery opus Everybody's Gone To The Rapture, due 11th August on PS4.

As stated on the PlayStation Blog, it will go for $19.99, but PS Plus members will receive a 20 per cent discount on pre-orders. A dynamic desktop theme will also come with all copies of Rapture purchased worldwide during its first two weeks on sale.

The Chinese Room recently revealed the game's cast, which includes Merle Dandridge (Alyx Vance in Half Life 2 and Marlene in The Last of Us) as Dr Katherine Collins, a central figure in the game's mystery.

Read more

FeatureThe Chinese Room: A look behind Britain's boldest studio

"Never so sure our rapture to create..."

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture's co-director Jessica Curry is not your typical video game developer. Having a background as a film composer is one detail that sets her apart from the pack, but what's probably more important is that she's co-directed three successful commercial games without being a gamer herself. How did this happen?

Eerie new Everybody's Gone to the Rapture trailer, screenshots

Eerie new Everybody's Gone to the Rapture trailer, screenshots

What happened to this idyllic countryside village?

Dear Esther developer The Chinese Room - which I only lived a few doors away from not three months ago - has revealed a new trailer for its intriguing PS4 game Everybody's Gone to the Rapture.

It hints at the story behind this apparently idyllic English countryside village being suddenly deserted.

"This is a special announcement by the Special Emergencies Committee," says a voice in an English radio broadcast manner. "Due to exceptional circumstances, radio and television in this area has [sic] been brought under the control of the EMC, as per the Crisis Preparedness and Action Bill of 1982.

Read more

FeatureEverybody's Gone to the Rapture is Dear Esther meets The Prisoner

The Chinese Room elegantly embraces 60s British sci-fi.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture might not make a lot of sense, at least at first. Its small cast of five characters are relegated to bobbing orbs of ectoplasm that occasionally manifest themselves as ghostly apparitions of things past. Pay phones ring, only to shout cryptic messages to you, and nothing stays the same for very long. Unraveling Rapture's core mystery, however, is only one diversion. The real reason for existing within Rapture is simply to experience this beautifully melancholy piece of surreal interactive prose.

FeatureDevelopers' Most Anticipated Games of 2014

Titanfall! Destiny! The Witcher 3! The Last Guardian (hopefully)!

2014 is upon us, and it promises riches and glory unlike any year before it. With their launches under their belts, the next generation of consoles will, hopefully, show us what they're made of. Virtual reality headsets may make their mark on the mainstream. And with a raft of crowdfunded games due out over the next 12 months, 2014 should tell us whether all that money we pumped into promising projects on Kickstarter was worth it.

The Chinese Room on its PS4-exclusive Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

Last week we did a postmortem on The Chinese Room's experimental horror sequel Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, and as fascinating as it was to hear all the decisions that went into developing that, I couldn't help wonder about the Brighton-based studio's upcoming PS4-exclusive first-person exploration game, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture.

The evocative title aims to explore rural Shropshire an hour before the end of the world. When studio head Dan Pinchbeck discussed Rapture last summer, it was said to feature a Majora's Mask-esque time mechanic that would constrain each playthrough to about an hour. When asked about this now, Pinchbeck laughs, "Yeah, that's gone."

"Originally, when we started the game off it was going to be an hour long for each playthrough. It would be almost like kind of a Groundhog Day or 12:01-type thing where you've got an hour. How far can you get? How much can you explore? Imagine reading a novel and you're really into it, and 30 pages before the end someone comes up and takes it out of your hand and goes, 'I'm afraid that's it. Your time's up.' It's an artificial conceit that doesn't necessarily produce a good player experience." Time limits, Pinchbeck notes, are "probably more suited to an arcade-style game, but not really good for a non-linear story-driven drama."

Read more