I started The Order 1886 last night and while I was restricted to explore an area at a snail’s pace, I suddenly remembered that I didn’t write up my thoughts on The Chinese Room’s “walking simulator”, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Now the struggle is to recall what I took away from the game. I guess it’s telling that all I can recall are:
- Poor framerate
- Detailed & realized location
- Village in England
- Excruciatingly slow movement speed
It’s clear that The Chinese Room wanted to the best looking English town they could on the PlayStation 4. They were so obsessed with that goal, they were willing to allow the framerate to vary wildly and dip down to well below 30 FPS. The result is a sluggish and disappointing because I’m just looking at things. I’m an active observer; I can manipulate where I look and what I look at but I’m not causing an overload of explosions or special effects to incur a framerate drop.
What made these framerate issues so pronounced and vivid was the fact that they capped the movement speed to a plodding pace. There was a “sprint” option but it merely elevated the speed from a slow crawl strolling speed. With so much time inbetween points of interest and so little to pay attention to, I began noticing the game’s faults like the framerate.
The slow movement speed also discouraged exploration. Not every single home or room was accessible. As I encountered more and more locked rooms, I was discouraged to get off the beaten path to explore unless I can clearly see or hear something of interest emanating from that building or area. It’s a weird design choice and one that I don’t understand or agree with.
Discouraging exploration was a huge disservice because the town of Yaughton was genuinely pleasant and the mystery surrounding it was intriguing. “What happened to these people? What caused all of them to disappear?” The hook was compelling enough to draw me in but not enough to put up with the framerate and movement issues. I eventually stopped caring and “rushed” for the end. I soaked up what I could and then did a bit of light reading on the intricacies that I may have missed. I came in as a fan of Dear Esther and open to these kinds of experiences but in the end, I was left yawning and forgetting to even document my time with Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture. And that’s one of the most damning thing I could say about a game.
I don’t like it