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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
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What's it about?
In THE VANISHING OF ETHAN CARTER, players take on the role of Paul Prospero, a private detective with the psychic ability to see into the past. One day he receives a disturbing letter from a young boy, Ethan Carter, and decides to investigate Ethan's town of Red Creek Valley. When Prospero arrives, Ethan has disappeared, there's been a vicious murder, and the town is deserted. Through exploration and puzzle solving, the detective must learn the town's disturbing secrets if he wants to save the boy.
Is it any good?
Although it might technically be classified as a puzzle game, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is primarily focused on atmosphere. The game exudes it, and that quickly draws players in. It's not an especially long game -- the puzzles aren't overly hard -- but that's not a problem, since you'll spend nearly as much time exploring and gasping at the sheer beauty of the graphics and shivering at the real sense of dread the developers are able to communicate through shadows and music.
Ethan Carter pulls from a variety of influences, ranging from Lovecraft to Phillip Marlowe. And it's hard to go too deep into its best parts without ruining them for new players. Early on, though, the game declares it won't "hold your hand." That translates into complete freedom, which is a rare quality in games today. The only problem is that, without any real background or knowledge of what your quests are, it's possible to spend a long time wandering without really knowing what you're supposed to do next. And that could frustrate some players.
Talk to your kids about ...
Talk about how the violence in Ethan Carter differs from that in other games. Prospero doesn't participate in violence, but his gifts uncover violent acts from others. Does that make the depiction of incidents more acceptable than those in other violent games on the market?
Discuss helping someone in trouble, even when it makes you scared. Are there ways to get over your fear to help people? Why is it important to make sure that you help others?
Talk about the pros and cons of curiosity. When can it get you in trouble?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.