I must be completely out of touch. Everyone raved about Rapture. For a small game it had solid hype leading to its release and scored fantastic reviews afterward, even being mentioned as Game Of The Year or at least making the short list. However, to me, I was so underwhelmed that I searched the internet to have it explained to me, thinking that I had missed some godly revelation along the way. No, I completely understood the proposed beauty of sinking depression. It just didn’t affect me.
Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture is a quirky art-school game where you play as an un-identified first-person discovering an English countryside village where all of its inhabitants have mysteriously vanished. You’re completely alone throughout the entire game to wander and be chilled by the vacant landscape, besides being guided by glowing orb of light. The light ball keeps you on course throughout and is a catalyst that triggers various glowing human-shaped memories of the townspeople. These visions performed by the ball of light are to aid you in piecing together the tragedy of the rapture. The whole story is Tarantino’ed and as you come across new information you’re left to figure out how all these out-of-sequence bits are pieced together.
The graphics were mind-meltingly realistic—the facial expressions of a twinge in the cheek or flutter in an eye captured a humanistic element that had never before been accurately conveyed digitally. The story seemed mysterious and heartfelt, while at the same time packed with action. And that was all nothing compared to the truly monumental element that set Beyond apart from everything else; the creators enlisted real-life A-list actors, Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, and turned their dramatic performances into realistic game characters that could actually be controlled and played.
Beyond premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2013, and rightfully so. This game was a movie, or rather, this movie was a game. David Cage, writer and director, compiled over 2,000 pages of story in his masterful 10 hour choose-your-own-adventure opus with the entire game being constructed around real-life motion capture technology. Every car door slamming, body flying across the screen, or heartfelt tearjerking moment was physically acted out by a human, with his casting being just as critical as it is in a Hollywood blockbuster.
From playing Atari at my cousin’s house to getting my first NES when I was 7 years old, I’ve kept every console and game (all in working order) that I've ever owned well into adulthood. My generation and younger values video games much differently than the past- it’s not simply Space Invaders or Mortal Kombat anymore. Amazing writing, design, and imagination combined with Panama Canal-sized teams of developers have created a viable medium to tell stories in a way which humans have never been able to experience. Emerging into fantastic environments, time periods, galaxies, and controlling the protagonist to discover your own story is a field-shifting concept. When simply compared to the ability of storytelling, the video game is a much greater achievement than the motion picture. Or at least it could be.