Generally favorable reviews - based on 66 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 56 out of 66
  2. Negative: 0 out of 66
  1. 100
    Nothing is so simply put in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, but to put it simply, this game is absolutely worth the $20 price tag. It’s not long (about four hours), nor is it particularly challenging, but through and through, this is a beautiful game of strange, twisted, and sometimes sick puzzles.
  2. Nov 10, 2014
    The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is one of the most beautiful and original adventure games of the year!
  3. Oct 30, 2014
    An immersive, story-driven, supernatural adventure thriller, with enchanting and melancholic atmosphere and captivating storytelling methods that offer a genuine and personal experience to the player.
  4. Oct 14, 2014
    One of the best games of the year. Developer The Astronauts has crafted a masterful mystery in an unbelievably beautiful and atmospheric setting, and raised the bar for what this kind of an experience can be. And, for an extremely reasonable price of admission, you, too, can find yourself never wanting to leave its well-crafted world.
  5. Oct 10, 2014
    If you have the three or four hours to devote to it and care about the future of games as a storytelling medium, Ethan Carter is must-play.
  6. Oct 10, 2014
    It's the visually masterfully realised translation of a Lovecraftian short story into something that is not necessarily a horror game and maybe not even a real video game per se. But be that as it may, I had two evenings of excellent entertainment, so there is little to complain about.
  7. 90
    Subtle, atmospheric, beautiful, exiting. A fantastic thriller.
  8. Oct 6, 2014
    If you’re the kind of person that enjoys story and an immersive experience over gameplay mechanics and action, you’ll surely have a blast with this game, in spite of its largely straightforward puzzles, empty world and some other issues that prevent it from being a true masterpiece.
  9. Oct 3, 2014
    A singular experience, at times strange, astonishing and even bewildering, but always captivating. The mystery will keep you going, but what the game does best is surprise. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter has a great story to tell, even if it's not the one you were expecting.
  10. Oct 3, 2014
    The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a compelling interactive novella that draws players in with its beautifully atmospheric setting. The slow burn narrative doesn’t quite land the final emotional punch it’s aiming for, but it more than satisfies on every other level.
  11. Sep 30, 2014
    The Vanishing of Ethan Carter leaves you with several amazing memories; moments that you will want to talk to your friends about for hours and will take great pains not to spoil for other people. The fact it packs those so painlessly into a three-hour game while other developers create empty works that take ten times as long to complete speaks volumes.
  12. Sep 29, 2014
    A stirring tale that walks a fine line between the human and the supernatural. As the layers begin to peel back, what you'll find is a story told with a level of cleverness and elegance rarely seen in games. It confirms the feeling you had from the first breathtaking view; when you enter into Red Creek Valley, you're in for something special.
  13. Sep 29, 2014
    The Vanishing of Ethan Carter has a hauntingly beautiful, unnerving world, and when you leave it, it's like waking up from a very complex dream. The game is extremely pretty and demands some interpretation and asking of the right questions. The Astronauts' first game has many little details, and none of them are accidental. Everything is well thought out and the gameplay walks hand in hand with the story. There should be more games like this.
  14. Pelit (Finland)
    Nov 15, 2014
    This fresh and visually pleasing supernatural detective story proves that adventure games are by no means a dying genre. [Nov 2014]
  15. Oct 28, 2015
    The Vanishing of Ethan Carter it's a lovely experience that enchants the player with its narrative, and landscapes. Even the sound is fitting in this smart game whose only real problem is the duration.
  16. Oct 14, 2014
    Perhaps where The Vanishing of Ethan Carter succeeds most is in establishing a sense of place. This is the kind of game that you’ll want to get lost in.
  17. Oct 8, 2014
    Fans of puzzlers, horror and story driven games alike will find enjoyment from Ethan Carter as it manages to be compelling, challenging and terrifying, all at once.
  18. Oct 4, 2014
    The Vanishing of Ethan Carter could have been a much more exciting and violent game, and many would probably have enjoyed that more, but I like it how it is: quiet, relaxing, and pensive. The Astronauts understand that a little subtlety goes a long way.
  19. Oct 2, 2014
    An amazing achievement. Its story is powerful, its freedom is liberating, and its world is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever wandered around. Here’s to more games not holding your hand.
  20. Oct 1, 2014
    The melancholy tale is matched with some wonderful visions to make a game that really sticks in the mind.
  21. Sep 30, 2014
    What happens when you put some classic adventure gameplay in a game like Dear Esther? One of the greatest interactive thriller comes out.
  22. Game World Navigator Magazine
    Oct 25, 2014
    Unfortunately over time it becomes clear that the promised freedom is illusory. The finale does not depend on our actions, puzzles should be solved by all means all, and openness of locations results in monotonous races back and forth. But what is important – creators of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter managed to create photo-realistic frightening world that player does not want to leave. American backwoods is traced to the last crack at the railing of the bridge, to the last blade of grass on a mossy stone in the forest, to the last shingle on the lake shore. And all this is feast for the eyes was developed with the decrepit Unreal Engine 3 and by the tiny studio! [Nov 2014, p.110]
  23. Sep 29, 2014
    The high visual quality, the complex of stories and the charm of Red Creek Valley make The Vanishing of Ethan Carter a title that is hard not to recommend.
  24. Oct 1, 2014
    The unbelievable graphics, the atmosphere and the feeling of lonely wandering manage to beat some design flaws such as lack of manual saving, possible backtracking and the failed jump scare moment. A game which will be discussed for a long time.
  25. Sep 29, 2014
    A tense and spooky stroll through a gorgeous world, some fun supernatural detective work, and an efficient script with sparse dialogue.
  26. Sep 29, 2014
    he tale Ethan Carter ultimately aches to tell isn't as complex or natural as its influences, but it finds ample success in directing a curious story through an interactive ensemble.
  27. Oct 6, 2014
    If you can get past the first hurdles and go beyond the initial disorientation, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter proves to be a very good and atipic adventure full of charm, mystery and exploration.
  28. Oct 1, 2014
    The story is pleasantly complex.
  29. CD-Action
    Dec 13, 2014
    Some minor disappointments did not prevent me from soaking in the atmosphere worthy of Lovecraft’s horror stories. [Dec 2014, p.46]
  30. Nov 23, 2014
    It's well paced, has a compelling plot, the twists are surprising without being outlandish, it prefers a more nuanced psychological horror over excessive blood and gore, and it's able to organically elicit fear, sadness and intrigue.
  31. LEVEL (Czech Republic)
    Nov 12, 2014
    Beautifully told story that manages to push the genre forward. The gameplay itself is unfortunately very repetitive. [Issue#246]
  32. Edge Magazine
    Nov 5, 2014
    A classy, inventive adventure with an absorbing story. [Dec 2014, p.114]
  33. Oct 27, 2014
    This game is going to surprise you.
  34. Oct 22, 2014
    No matter from what perspective you look at it, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an impressive title. The special storytelling, absurdly beautiful game world and the intimate atmosphere make this a game for everyone.
  35. Oct 17, 2014
    Though it poses little in the way of challenge, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter delivers a gripping, gradually unfolding tragedy set in a beautiful open woodland environment that you are free to explore at will.
  36. Oct 15, 2014
    With the exception of the mines being slower and more frustrating and disconnected than the rest of the game, the only thing you’d want out of Ethan Carter is more story and a few more mechanics to keep you coming back for more.
  37. Oct 9, 2014
    Despite what might seem like harsh critique, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a stunning achievement. It’s undoubtedly one of the best games I’ve played this year, and I cannot stop thinking about it.
  38. Oct 9, 2014
    Nevertheless I really enjoyed the 3-4 hours I spent investigating The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and recommend you check it out, although admittedly your own enjoyment will be tied to whether you find and solve all the puzzles first time around.
  39. Oct 8, 2014
    The Vanishing of Ethan Carter offers a very well-written story, with an enchanting atmosphere and superb technical achievement, even if you feel sometimes running around in circles and a slightly slower pace story. An experience to live... and to play.
  40. Oct 8, 2014
    There's difficult, and then there's maddening, and sometimes Ethan Carter tips too far towards the former.
  41. Oct 8, 2014
    The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is very close to Dear Esther, to Twin Peaks in the atmosphere, but it offers real gameplay, something fresh and new for this style of game. The first-person view and the freedom given to the player assist relatively simple but always rewarding puzzles. Above all, we can only assess the very high quality of the graphics and the talented artistic direction. OK, it's not very long to play, but it's not very expensive either, so there's no reason to ignore it.
  42. Oct 7, 2014
    As True Detective did months ago, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter shows its cards and lets the player decide which ones are important, asking them to be both the spectator as well as the engine that drives the game.
  43. Oct 7, 2014
    If you want to be free to make your own way through an intriguing narrative in gorgeous surroundings, this subtle, melancholy game is for you.
  44. Oct 7, 2014
    The story, the full narrative, is relevant to a lot of children like Ethan Carter and is steeped in sobering realism. For that, I would encourage you to discover it and find him.
  45. Oct 6, 2014
    This is not about horror. This is not about terror. This is about exploration and experiencing one of the most beautiful worlds I have seen in a game so far. Period. Unfortunately you feel too safe and even though the visuals are exceptional the gameplay is rather conventional.
  46. Oct 6, 2014
    The Vanishing is a supernatural murder mystery with a dark and sombre, if not entirely original, story beneath its hood. Although gameplay is a tad repetitive, it is wonderfully evident that the game has been crafted with elaborate care and conscience. But more than anything, The Vanishing is a strikingly beautiful stroll through a hauntingly gorgeous valley.
  47. Oct 4, 2014
    Fight through that frustration of wondering where to go when you start The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Once you learn the rules of the game, you’ll find a deeply satisfying, if short, story within.
  48. Oct 2, 2014
    The Vanishing of Ethan Carter won’t challenge your brain like it will challenge your daring, but it offers up plenty of thrills and tells a crafty story that fans of dark fantasy and pulp horror won’t want to miss.
  49. Oct 2, 2014
    Interesting story, superb atmosphere... It's hard not to recommend The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.
  50. Oct 2, 2014
    It keeps you on edge just enough to pique your curiosity for what the next mystery will bring, and marries that mystery with an eerily beautiful world worth being curious about.
  51. Oct 1, 2014
    The Vanishing of Ethan Carter stands between David Lynch's Twin Peaks and a Lovecraft story in terms of narrative but also offers solid gameplay mechanics. It's not a very long game (around four hours) but if you loved Gone Home, this is a game that you definitely have to try.
  52. Sep 30, 2014
    One of the best story driven games of the year, and one of the prettiest, although you do sometimes wonder if it’s focusing on the most interesting aspect of its plot.
  53. Sep 26, 2014
    Despite a few issues that prevent the game from being a wholly immersive open-world exploratory experience, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter packs an impressive punch.
  54. Games Master UK
    Dec 21, 2014
    A gorgeously crafted experience that's cramped by the occasionally obtuse signposting. [Christmas 2014, p.68]
  55. Oct 1, 2014
    The Vanishing of Ethan Carter tells an interesting story and presents the best graphics possible today on a PC. Although the presentation of the world is wonderful and drives you right into it, the game lacks NPCs, dialogue and would need a lot more puzzles to fill the open world much more properly to not bore the player at times. The game is more about exploring a detailed world with some rare quests in about 4-5 hours than enjoying any other "regular" adventure game.
  56. Oct 1, 2014
    This is one of those games driven by its story, even though the narrative is better than the story told, but all under stunning visuals. If you like the concept, then we think you're going to enjoy this one.
  57. Hyper Magazine
    Dec 2, 2014
    An intriguing and gorgeous little game that's sure to frustrate as well as captivate. [Issue#255, p.48]
  58. Oct 19, 2014
    The game takes your breath away from the first seconds, but its paper-thin story quickly gets lost in the beautiful picture.
  59. Oct 7, 2014
    Are the beautiful views of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter justified by the pure beauty of them? We have to ask this question after being guided through a predictable story by an invisible hand. We’ll probably remember this game for the astounding visuals, rather than for its gameplay.
  60. Oct 4, 2014
    For The Astronauts developers, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is not a victory, but neither is it a failure. Fans of the games like Dear Esther or Gone Home will very much like it, and if you take pleasure in beautiful graphics, you will purr with delight.
  61. Oct 2, 2014
    Carter is most frustrating when it attempts to deviate from those systems as though this were, in some way, a refusal to become friends with the player, when really, it should be as welcoming as possible.
  62. Sep 30, 2014
    The relatively gratifying story and straightforward puzzles aren’t the real reasons to visit Red Creek Valley. The location is a good enough reason itself. More often than not people look to graphics as an indication for this medium’s progression and even though that’s somewhat of a falsehood, it has to be said that this spirit story’s looks are otherworldly.
  63. Sep 29, 2014
    A bold and fascinating story. But the story is something that’s revealed, not something that’s lived through. I was a tourist, a witness, a reader, and that left less room for being a player. Yet I expect the game to stay with me for a good long time, and its grisly, gorgeous world alone makes the trek worthwhile.
  64. Sep 29, 2014
    A good little story with a bleak atmosphere that nonetheless provides some relaxing puzzle solving.
  65. Oct 8, 2014
    The title definitely has good intentions but it inevitably falls short. Clichés and bogged down mechanics appear early in the game. Some mind-blowing scenes freshen up the experience but the riddles are either dull or poorly designed.
  66. Oct 2, 2014
    For players who like story and experience to trump all else, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a low-key journey with some interesting ideas.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 743 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 56 out of 743
  1. Sep 25, 2014
    Earphones and a dark room with a measly Core2Duo@3.2 4GB on SSD and Nvidia 570 card plays maxed with a bit of stutter if I spin quickly whileEarphones and a dark room with a measly Core2Duo@3.2 4GB on SSD and Nvidia 570 card plays maxed with a bit of stutter if I spin quickly while cacking my pants at a creak on the stairs.

    I MUST make one suggestion, turn the subtitles off. At least try it: They break it for me. The rest is spot on.

    Its atmospheric, spooky, cool, interesting, visually stunning and after 2hrs solid play intriguing but too darn scary after the day I've had. It's not run around jump scary, imagine it's an entire world to match the feeling of playing either of the original two classic cakpants Thief levels back in the day.

    It draws you in through sights and sounds. Within 30 minutes you'll have had a WTF??! moment. Anyone who's played it will know. It's fantastic storytelling.

    I'm betting its 8 or 9 easily on an average after a few reviews. If not, my 15 spondoolies have paid for themselves already. Exceptional except.....

    sort out the Spiderwebs though.
    Full Review »
  2. Sep 26, 2014
    So far I don't believe I've done much of the actual storyline as I've just been exploring and admiring the views. The scenery is simplySo far I don't believe I've done much of the actual storyline as I've just been exploring and admiring the views. The scenery is simply stunning. I've taken over a dozen screen shots so far in my first couple of hours of play.

    The story is very engaging and macabre and the atmosphere is immersive. I've even had the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

    Pros: Beautiful graphics and scenery. Superb soundtrack. Interesting storyline.

    Cons: Some immersion breaking red/white light pixels that flash in the distant tree line. No indication as to when you've triggered the autosave (no option to save where you want to), so it's a gamble when you stop as to how much you might need to repeat. Can't invert the mouse (option is there, but it's broken). Fell over 100ft down an elevator shaft and didn't die (which I guess is a good thing).

    Final thought: All in all a great game so far and definitely one I would recommend experiencing. I'm so impressed, I gifted a copy to a friend on Steam.
    Full Review »
  3. Sep 26, 2014
    Yay, another walking simulator. On the plus side, it looks good at places. On the down side, it's a walking simulator. Not a video game. IYay, another walking simulator. On the plus side, it looks good at places. On the down side, it's a walking simulator. Not a video game. I played for about 2 hours. You don't get to make any choices, just walking and listening to the narrative. Save your money until it's on bundle or something, until that, read a book or play some video games. Full Review »