Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is an atmospheric narrative adventure set in the fictional English village of Yaughton. This is not a review of Everybody's Gone to the Rapture—you can find that here. Rather, this is a review of a single, insignificant building within the game. Why? Hey, we once reviewed a dog.
The pub. The local. The rub-a-dub-dub. The ol' boozer. The drunkard's delight. The woozy house. Whatever you call it, it's a British institution. I'm something of an expert on village pubs. I've worked in them, lived in them, been unable to stand up in them. I have befriended aging pub dogs called Alex who were addicted to smoky bacon flavoured crisps. Point being, I know what I'm talking about. And so, when I heard praise of Everybody's Gone to the Rapture's depiction of little-England's quaint eccentricities, I took it upon myself to investigate. Does local establishment The Stars At Night stand up to scrutiny? Let's find out.
This is exactly what a small pub looks like—from the three curved lights pointing to the sign, to the pointless faux-lantern that signals how British people wish it was still the 18th Century. The windows feel authentic, the glass looks spot on, and the brickwork is an accurately grubby off-white.
Round the side, there's a lovely hanging sign. It's almost looks too good, in that it doesn't feature a grotesque caricature of a local historical figure whose only pleasure was shooting animals in the face.
The positioning of the hanging sign could be better. Maybe that's why the illustration is repeated on this a-board. I'm docking marks for this. A good a-board is more functional in nature—acting as a public service announcement for news and events. "Lunch served 12-2pm!" "Tonight only! Folk night, featuring the county's loudest accordion!" "Children must be kept on a leash at all times!" You know, that sort of thing.
Overall, some excellent attention to detail. 92%
To the layman, this looks fine, but the cracks are beginning to show. Some of it's correct: the drip trays, the special's board, the yard glass, and especially the ashtray. The stubs and ash are a nice touch.
But look at those taps! Finkelstein is not the name of an ale. Ales have names like Bishop's Bottom, Bulldog Scrotum and Rumpy Pumpy. The sort of names where you're not sure why anyone thought that would be something you'd want to put in your mouth.
Worse still, all six pumps are serving the same ale. That's not how these things are done. If you're running a village pub, you need one local ale, one bitter, and one speciality strong ale so the locals can order a half when they're feeling a bit adventurous. Optionally, you can also have an empty pump. This is a permanent reminder of the time the landlord wanted to feature a rotating selection of guest ales like what a pub in a town would have. It didn't work. As a final twist of the knife, tourists will regularly ask what's in the pump.
As for snacks, there are none. No crisps, no Frazzles, no suspicious looking packs of pork scratchings with a font that suggests they've been in storage since the '60s. Perhaps you assume people don't actually eat those, but no. I've seen things. I once had a regular who always ordered a packet of salt and vinegar crisps and a pickled egg. He'd open the crisps, plop in the egg, and just go to town on the whole woeful affair. This is what happens in the countryside. It's harrowing.
It's all a bit of a let down. 30%
Mostly good, if a bit bland. That's not a criticism of The Chinese Room, but of a particular, very safe variant of village pub style. This makes sense given many of the people you hear from throughout the game. These are not a people that would respond to anything too showy. A few maps and some nice landscapes are about as adventurous as they're going to get.
You can get a good flavour of a pub's life through its decor. When my dad ran a pub in the '90s, he filled it with trinkets from the local community. On a shelf behind the bar was a small, green plastic elephant. It belonged to a local called Sedge—the sort of person who's had a nickname for so long that nobody knows what he's actually called. Whenever he had a pint, he'd drop the elephant into it. It was called the Sedgephant. This is not a good anecdote, but it is the sort of thing that happens in pubs.
Er, by which I mean 76%.
I can't fault the seating—those round-backed wooden chairs and floral pattern benches are spot on. I do, however, worry where The Guy In The Corner will sit. The Guy In The Corner is your prime local—more furniture than customer. He's inevitably the quietest person at the bar, uttering two or three incomprehensible sentences each night. It's not clear if he has a job, but he has enough money to be there every night. He has a seat, and it's located at the corner of the bar. It's his seat. You're not sure what would happen if anyone else sat there. Nobody ever does. He is called Bob, or Cedric, or Roland.
In The Stars At Night, his natural seat is directly next to a table. Bob, or Cedric, or Roland won't like that.
Moving on, check out the placement of the dart board. It is in the most disruptive location. I'm not even sure there's enough space for a regulation oche. League night is almost certainly the worst night of the week, because outsiders are bussed in to stand around in a huge semi-circle that engulfs the room. People do not come to this pub on league night, for fear of being lost in a sea of barely contained beer gut.
Maybe there's a point to this. Everybody's Gone to the Rapture's fiction is wider than its central mystery. Yaughton is, for all its detail, a fantasy. It's safe and sanitised, its personal dramas easily explained. If Everybody's Gone to the Rapture says anything about the English countryside, it's about the version of it people want to exist. Villages, like anywhere, are full of problems, frustrations and stark, ugly realities. Pubs are buildings in which people go willingly to eat pickled eggs, listen to folk music, and drink pint after pint without saying a word. These are the quiet, subtle tragedies that can't be neatly resolved across a few audio snippets.
Also, look at these barrels:
Those are lager barrels, not ale. 50%
I once had to sit behind a bar for hours while a local talked at length about the minutia of Cumbrian fishing bylaws. 70%