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Bulletstorm. Excellent game, and a far more intelligent one than many give it credit for. But probably not, you might expect, the sort of game whose developers might soon spawn a subtle, atmospheric, narratively driven, non-violent horror mystery. That however, is exactly what several of those devs are now doing. 

Headed up by the ex-leads and previous owners of Bulletstorm studio People Can Fly, new indie developer The Astronauts is currently working on debut game The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Due for release on PC at a currently unspecified date (though we're told it will be a matter of months, not years"), TVoEC is billed as a first-person, supernatural "weird horror", focusing on mood, atmosphere and characterisation. The game will be entirely combat-free, instead taking the form of a twisting detective story, with protagonist Paul Prospero charged with unraveling the mystery threatening the titular Ethan. 

With the power to witness the final living moments of murder victims, Prospero will eschew the traditional torch and shotgun approach in favour of his uncanny sleuthing skills, as he investigates the disturbing goings on in the town of Red Creek Valley. 

And "disturbing" seems to be the operative word. The studio's intent with Ethan Carter is to unsettle rather than terrorise, blending "a beautiful world with the haunting and macabre". This will certainly be a game for adults, but studio founder Adrian Chmielarz promises us a sense of clammy unease "without the need for sedatives". With strong narrative ambitions and the pledge of cutscene-free, player-driven environmental storytelling throughout, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter may already be one of the most interesting upcoming prospects for the discerning horror fan. We'll keep you updated on its progress. 

And in the meantime, check out the first four in-game screenshots in the gallery. They're rather beautiful indeed. 

7 comments

  • Shnubby - September 19, 2013 11:30 a.m.

    I notice A LOT of recent horror games are completely combat free. Some games have proven that this works well (Dark Descent, Outlast etc) but I can't help but think that everyone is trying to jump on the bandwagon. Developers shouldn't be afraid to include combat in their horror games, it's only when there is too much combat that the element of horror is removed (ahem, Resident Evil 6). Games such as Condemned and the original Silent Hill titles are amazing horror games that also have combat in them. I don't mind games with no combat, they can be really scary but i just don't want to see EVERYONE removing combat from their games. The more developers milk the idea, the sooner it's going to get predictable and stale.
  • drachehexe - September 19, 2013 4:44 p.m.

    I agree. While helplessness is a part of some good horror, characters don't need to be helpless and powerless all of the time. I am getting sick of the "me too" syndrome faster and faster with each new genre. First it was WWII shooters, then zombies, now survival horror games. Still, this game looks pretty good, it has an Alan Wake kinda vibe from the visuals as well as the "weird horror" descriptor.
  • drachehexe - September 19, 2013 4:48 p.m.

    As an added note it is easier to develop a game sans combat as having combat requires more animations, more models, and more coding. If the narrative is strong enough to encompass a full fledged story then it might be a winner. I just hope it avoids being a one gimmick over and over kind of game like Amnesia was.
  • TokenGamesRadarFurry - September 19, 2013 8:52 a.m.

    Here's hoping it more frightening then Machine for Pigs was.
  • Shnubby - September 19, 2013 11:30 a.m.

    I've yet to play it but I've heard that it doesn't live up to expectations. Is it really bad?
  • TokenGamesRadarFurry - September 19, 2013 12:08 p.m.

    Nah, it isn't bad...just very disappointing. I didn't ready any reviews or really look into it at all before launch on purpose (as I went into the first one on launch day without knowing what I was getting into, and it was amazing), but save the first part of the game before you really know what you were going to run into, it really wasn't scary at all. Really disliked a lot of the overly-wordy journal entries too...smacks of pretentiousness.

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