The personal website of Chris Coyier

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

I bought this game for PS4. I played it for about 30 minutes before I was like… this is absolutely beautiful and haunting, but I’m already frustrated. It’s kinda like a harder/creepier Firewatch.

The game literally warns you at the start that it will not be holding your hand. You just walk around and explore and there is occasionally there are things you interact with. You can’t die, there is no fighting, there isn’t even any other living creature hopping about. But you can accidentally go too far ahead to the point there isn’t anything for you to do there yet and have to walk pretty far back.

The reason I was frustrated was nobody’s fault but mine. I just don’t have that good “video game sense” that you have when you are an actual gamer. Where you see something on screen that you just kinda know is important.

So I did the thing that everybody does, google for a walkthrough. Figuring I’d at least get some help through the early bits and then get some momentum of my own. But instead I found this:

I can just watch someone else play it! I’ve probably mentioned this many times before, but I prefer that anyway. I used to think that was slightly weird until Twitch became a billion dollar thing.

So I sucked down all five parts to Cryaotic’s series. I found it completely satisfying. No need for me to hold the controller and deal with frustration. Instead I can watch it all unfold and relax. Apparently this dude is mega popular. I can see it. He’s very prolific and mostly-soothing.

I wonder if the game makers like or dislike this kind of thing. How do they make any money if I can just watch for free? Or maybe it’s excellent marketing?