I’m not a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction in its modern American form, but there’s an interesting and rather more lyrical literary tradition in English sci-fi — stretching from Mary Shelley’s “The Last Man” (1826) through Wild England (1888), to H.G. Wells and beyond — which makes the English countryside and topography an integral part of such a story. The genre was perhaps at its strongest and most mature from about 1972 until 1984, when it mingled with interest in ‘earth mysteries’ and had its book sales bolstered by various popular post-apocalyptic TV series such as the original Survivors. I remember that I sought out and read just about all such books, up until around 1985 — as well as a few comics that treated the theme, such as the earliest appearance of Woodgod.
So it’s interesting to find this tradition put into videogame form and set in the Midlands. The game Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is set in and around a meticulously recreated Shropshire village, in the fateful summer of 1984.
The game’s use of the ‘the rapture’ in the title is frankly very off-putting, suggesting it may perhaps be some born-again Christian propaganda game. But it’s been made in Brighton and is published by Sony, and the game gets a very respectable 79% score in a review in the latest PC Gamer magazine (June 2016). It’s said to take a slow and meditative ‘walking + storytelling’ approach, and is far from being a grim and dusty Fallout or a “bring me the thumbs of 100 zombies” RPG game. The plot, involving a village in a Doctor Who-like “quarantine”, is a “fairly standard sci-fi” story according to PC Gamer. But the huge village environment, non-player characters and the orchestral music / sound-design apparently make up for the slightly downbeat and standard story.
What the PC Gamer review doesn’t mention is that the game appears to have won a shed-load of awards…