You play the game as Paul Prospero, an occult-minded detective who receives a disturbing letter from Ethan Carter. Realizing the boy is in grave danger, Paul arrives at Ethan’s home of Red Creek Valley, where things turn out to be even worse than he imagined. Ethan has vanished in the wake of a brutal murder, which Paul quickly discerns might not be the only local murder worth looking into.
Inspired by the weird fiction (and other tales of the macabre) from the early twentieth century, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter aims to significantly evolve immersive storytelling in games. While it features a private detective and quite a few mental challenges, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is not an especially puzzle-ridden game. Our focus is on atmosphere, mood, and the essential humanity of our characters.
Still, the discoveries won’t happen on their own, or without your help. Using both Paul’s supernatural skill of being able to communicate with the dead, and your own powers of observation, you will discover the mystery behind a trail of corpses, the roots of a dark ancient force lurking in Red Creek Valley, and the fate of a missing boy.
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This is not the first time that The Vanishing of Ethan Carter has emerged as a free game of the week on the Epic Game Store, but there’s no telling if or when it will appear again. It’s an honestly superb game, even if it is a few years old, with both freeform exploration, a top-notch story, and action that will make your pulse pound.
The Astronauts game company takes the creation of deeply immersive and potently-told games seriously. The success of Ethan Carter helped them forge ahead with an even more ambitious game that is currently in late-stage development called Witchfire.
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Armed with strange weapons and forbidden pagan magic, hunt a powerful witch holding the key to your salvation. Witchfire is a dark fantasy roguelite shooter from the creators of Painkiller, Bulletstorm, and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.
The Epic Games Store has been around for a while, the lesser-known alternative to Steam, the nearly-ubiquitous platform for game purchases since it launched in 2003. But, where Steam originally existed and launched to promote Valve games, Epic Games Store launched in 2018 and quickly rose to success on the Fortnite franchise. At the time of Epic’s launch, Steam took a dramatic 30% cut from the sales of video games through their platform! This hurt both game designers and users, just wasn’t very nice. But the folks behind Epic realized something excellent: they could take a much lower cut and still have a profitable business. This led them to fast domination of the indie market, as small publishers flocked to the far better terms offered by Epic.
Epic Games Store offers some seriously incredible discounts on a regular basis, in addition to all the normal discounts one would expect on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the usual holidays. But the most exciting is their weekly free game or add-on, which simply harpoons all competitors.
When I first heard about this free game, I thought that can’t be real. They must only offer tiny indie games. Not at all, dear reader. Not. At. All. Epic frequently lists unbelievable A-lister games on their weekly deal, as well as sometimes offer two free games instead of one. In addition, just because a studio is smaller doesn’t mean the games it makes aren’t impressive. I’ve picked up some of my favorite new games, for free, from this platform, and most of them have been made by smaller studios (or as side-projects for teams from big studios).