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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.
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