The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Is a Horror Game for Fans of Raymond Chandler

ethan carterAlfred Hitchcock once claimed that there’s nothing more terrifying than an unopened door. Mystery is at the heart of any great horror story, and things are never as frightening once those mysteries are solved.

Detective fiction, on the other hand, is defined by its big reveal. Everything builds up to that one magic moment in which things are finally made clear. These stories thrive on answers, and are far less satisfying when stones are left unturned.

While the genres seem to be at odds with each other, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter combines them beautifully. It has all the eerie atmosphere you’d expect from a horror title, but the entire game is built around detective work. Investigations are interrupted by jump scares, and horrific sights have you pulling out your metaphorical magnifying glass.

the vanishing of ethan carterThe game’s hero, Paul Prospero isn’t your typical private eye. He’d be right at home in a Raymond Chandler novel, but he talks about ghosts the way Philip Marlowe talks about coffee. His investigative methods rely on the supernatural, and the cases he takes on are decidedly spooky in nature.

Ethan Carter uses its supernatural sleuth to great effect, seamlessly blending an unconventional horror story with a classic detective tale. There’s something very Lovecraftian about the doomed nature of noir tales, and there’s nothing that isn’t creepy about investigating a murder site.

ethan carter backgroundHorror and mystery have always been my favorite genres, and Ethan Carter has helped me realize how similar they really are. They both trend towards the gruesome and terrible, and they both rely on suspense. The key difference lies in their conclusions.

It’s hard to say whether or not Ethan Carter will leave its doors unopened. My investigation has just begun, and I’m not sure where the evidence will lead me. But no matter how the story ends, I can already say that this game is a must-play for mystery and horror fans alike.