The Vanishing of Ethan Carter | Review
The Good
  • + Stunning graphics
  • + Cleverly constructed puzzles
  • + Explore at your own pace
The Bad
  • Nothing to report

Want to look beyond the score? Check out the full review below…

*TVOEC was provided to Start Replay on PS4 by The Astronauts


Red Creek Valley is a beautiful place, but it doesn’t take much to see behind that facade. Remnants of its past are always held firmly at the forefront of your experience, telling tales of heartbreak and loss.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a mysterious adventure, solely reliant on your exploration to tell the tale. You’re never told what to do or where to go, but there’s a lot to explore amidst the eerily quiet countryside.

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Paranormal investigator, Paul Prospero, has arrived in Red Creek after receiving a fan letter from one of its residents, 12 year old Ethan Carter. Through the eyes of Prospero you must utilise his paranormal senses to help locate Ethan’s whereabouts.

I spent a long time wandering through forests and abandoned houses before accomplishing anything meaningful. However, what makes this game so special is the fact that gameplay is only put into action if you take the time to explore and interact with your environment.

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Dotted around the large and detailed map are numerous crime scenes, each of which present a layered puzzle to engage in. Piecing them together bit by bit will help you uncover vital story information, however, directions are never present. Freeing myself from the constraints of a linear journey helped me forge a real connection with the game, as it was up to me to seek out the truth, and as a result I cared more about the events that unfolded.

Puzzles are in-depth and can be overcome mostly through curiosity and common sense. Interacting with notable items and using my paranormal sense helped me to deduce what an item was in order to figure out its purpose. You can obtain glimpses of past events by successfully locating missing items from a murder scene and slotting them back into their rightful place, ultimately recreating the scene with ghostly imitations of those involved.

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I’m a huge fan of first-person adventures, and Ethan Carter ranks as one of my top favourites so far. The cleverly constructed puzzles and murder investigations made me feel as though I was actually making an impact. Nothing is spelt out for you, and the reward of solving mysteries by yourself is immensely satisfying.

Elaborating on any story details would only spoil the experience. This is a game that’s supposed to be played at night, with headphones and without any interruptions. It will be your curiosity in exploration that opens up more of the story, and how you piece it together is entirely up to you.


Solve murders and discover the unnerving truth of Red Creek Valley in an engaging first person adventure.

About The Author

Joshua Ball

Meet Josh. As the head of Start Replay his overall objective is to keep things moving. Alongside ensuring that content is made on a regular basis, Josh loves attending and organising the many press events and expos that crop up. His favourite video games consist of the Arkham series and Metal Gear Solid, but there’s always room for a bit of horror. Follow Josh’s sparse tweets on Twitter or, alternatively, be sure to catch him in the crowd of the next big gaming event.

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