The Vanishing of Ethan Carter - Redux
When I first played The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, I soon gave up on it. I was interested in the game, but sorely disappointed and frustrated by its performance and its save system. I had to deal with constant hiccups, while the game was calculating or loading the landscape, despite my rather recent and not too shabby graphic card. And although the game allowed you to explore freely and do things in any order, it only saved your progress on puzzles if you had fully completed them, and there was no other way to save your game, meaning if you stopped playing right in the middle of it, you had to start from scratch and repeat everything you did before. Not that you'd lose much time by doing that, if you still remembered what it was that you did, but it was tedious and irritating nevertheless.
In the meantime though, the developers have completely remade the game with the Unreal 4 engine and now offer this new Redux version for free to everyone who already owns the original (on GOG, you have to check for a serial key in your library and redeem it to have the Redux version added to your shelf). And thankfully, the developers listened to the criticism and fixed both issues mentioned above. The Redux version has become more demanding in its requirements, but as a tradeoff it now runs smoothly on my 64-bit, 8GB PC with GTX660 GPU, as it should. Apparantly, the UE3 version kept loading the landscape on the fly, in order to be less demanding, causing the game to stutter, while the UE4 version has stored the whole thing in memory already, or something like that. In any case, for mid range and high end PCs it seems to work much better now. And the autosaving in the Redux version kicks in whenever you've made a little bit of progress, even if a puzzle is not complete yet and you've only discovered part of the solution so far. It's still not perfect (for some reason it sometimes saves in the middle of the protagonist's monologue), but it's really cool that the developers put all this work into improving their game without asking anything in return, so that I could finally experience the game as it was meant to be, without worrying too much above performance and losing progress.
As for the game itself, it was alright. I'd describe it as a blend of Dear Esther and Murdered: Soul Suspect, only that the story is more interesting than in Dear Esther, and there's less handholding than in Murdered: Soul Suspect. It's beautiful to look at, music, speech and sound effects are of great quality, and the puzzle mechanics, while simple, are fun and give you a sense of achievement when you've figured them out all by yourself. My only gripe is that there are larger areas with no puzzles in them, and you do walk or run a lot without anything happening but landscape, impatiently waiting for the next spots you can interact with (or fearing that you might have missed something). In one case, near the end, I had to check a walkthrough because I was fed up with running around the whole area again, trying to find out if something had changed. And I guess it won't stick around in my mind for long, now that I've completed it, but it was nice as long as it lasted.
Post edited February 15, 2016 by Leroux