Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is an emotionally augmented reality of the best countryside walk you ever did. Rolling hills and quaint little villages, the joy of discovering a hidden path taking you to one of those secluded spots where the epiphany awaits.
It is as close to the real thing as we can get with contemporary technology and it would be a triumph if it was only that, especially for English folk for whom it is bound to generate an irrepressible avalanche of Proust-like memories of damp summers in impossibly optimistic holiday resorts, of blissful spring-time pints in wasp-infested beer gardens.
But it is much more than that.
As we stroll down Yaughton Valley, we witness glowing echoes of its inhabitants’ lives, ectoplasmic moments from before and while it was washed over by a mysterious eschaton we seek to understand. These are vignettes of the quotidian, the worries, joys and regrets of a community about to be dissolved – perhaps exalted – into infinite light.
The whole experience is incredibly affecting, partly because the micro-victories and tragedies we stumble upon feel real, partly because its protagonists’ terror as they are overcome by a cosmic force is something we know we would share. Even if the final outcome is eternal rapture, it is still a rapture of ghosts, and who would prefer that to imperfectly human immersion in this earthly valley and its fractious community?
The paradox is that this is a game about transcendence as apocalypse, set in the midst of the kind of countryside landscape where we ourselves look for transcendence, pure, unselfconscious, motes of life flowing over the fields, under the sun?
A loop is closed like the pattern in the stars, thus are the landscape, the story and the ambiance of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture perfectly integrated, to enthral us as we play it, and haunt us in years to come.
None of the above would happen to the extent that it does without Jessica Curry’s searingly beautiful soundtrack. Buy it here and read more about how it was made here. And get the game for your PS4 here.
We have managed to write all of the above without using the term “hauntological” once, but we cannot deny that EIGTTR shares the sensibility of Ghost Box et al, and its “cosy apocalypse” has strong echoes of John Wyndham and his ilk. You could perfectly imagine Yaughton as the scenario of a Doctor Who adventure, if only its theme was regret, and its director Andrei Tarkovsky.
This obviously makes us love it even more. It gives us a new sensorial backdrop and bag of qualia over which to scatter our favourite music, such as say, Alexander Harvey’s Harmonic Choir, whose synthesisers simmer like particles in some unstable equilibrium, an apparently chaotic stream of numbers arrived from the stars configuring themselves into an emergent structure behind which we sense loneliness, and intent, a pattern…The Pattern.
You can acquire Alexander Harvey’s visitation’s in Bandcamp.