Everybody’s Gone to The Rapture : Explained

It took me about six hours to complete Everybody’s Gone to The Rapture. Upon finishing it, I went to bed, only to wake up and play it again to try and make sense of it. Altogether, I replayed the game three times.
It takes more than one playthrough to get a complete idea as to what is going on in the game. The imprints or memories of the town’s folk that you come across are scattered and often times, takes careful planning of routes to get right.

You are very likely to come across an extremely crucial memory related to the plot right at the start and not realise its significance until much later on, when you put the pieces together from the other memories.

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This is going to be my take on what I believe happened in the story. Keep in mind that the game can be ambiguous at many points and as such, lots of things are upto the player’s interpretation.
I will however, try and keep it broad and explain what happened in the story, in my words.
You are free to have your own interpretations as to what happened in the story.

Breaking it down:

The game is set in the quaint fictional town of  Yaughton Valley, Shropshire.
Right at the start, you hear the voice of a “Kate”, asking you to “look to the light for answers”.
Following her words, you depart and make your way into town, listening to bits of conversations left on tape recorders, mobile phones and telephone booths around the town.

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As you put them together, you come across flecks of light at certain points in the town. Focusing them upon the most relevant point, brings forth the information contained within the light. And through them, you can witness events that transpired days, months and even years before the apocalypse.

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You piece these together to get a better idea of the happenings that led to this moment.

Characters:

As you play the game, you come across quite a few characters, all playing their own unique roles in the story leading upto the Rapture.
The main characters of focus in the story are scientists, Stephen Appleton and his wife, Dr. Katherine Collins (Kate).
Stephen was originally from Yaughton but moved to America to further his career where he met Kate, married her and came back to Yaughton to study the stars at Valis Observatory for a year.
Stephen’s mother is Wendy Boyles. Widowed and slightly irritable, she makes it a point to make herself a part of the business of the townsfolk.
Her husband, Eddie, was a war veteran who died at a young age, leaving her to look after herself.

Father Jeremy Wheeler is the priest at the local church who, in the events of the Rapture starts to question his faith.
Frank Appleton, Wendy Boyles’ brother is a loner who runs a farm on the outskirts of town. His wife Mary, passed away due to a terminal illness and he is still in mourning, avoiding most of the townsfolk and keeping to himself.
Lizzie Graves is the owner of the Lakeside Holiday Camp. She and Stephen were engaged in the past, before Stephen left for America and came back married to Kate.
Clive Smith is a man who works for the local Emergency Measures Committee and converses with Stephen at key points in the story.

There are also additional characters that weave in and out of the storyline but for the sake of explanation, we will focus on these specific characters for now.

Note: Spoilers Ahead. 

The Pattern:

Stephen and Kate worked at Valis Observatory together. They were studying the patterns of constellations in the sky.
During a certain celestial event, Stephen and Kate discover a pattern in the constellations of stars and amplify the pattern using the telescopes of the Valis Observatory. By focusing on them, they end up releasing the “Pattern”, an intelligent form of light energy that starts to spread outwards from the Observatory towards the whole valley.
While focusing on the Pattern at the Observatory, both Stephen and Kate get burned by it, leaving their faces marked with the same pattern we often see at different places in town.

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While Kate stays back and analyses the data from the Pattern, Stephen leaves the observatory to go into town and see the effects of the Pattern on the townsfolk.

On his journey through the town, Stephen notices that most of the birds are dead and lying on the street. The Pattern, it seems had tried to spread via the birds first.
Investigating further, he finds that the townsfolk have been getting sick, with many reporting bleeding and internal hemorrhage. The Pattern had started affecting humans.
Dr. Phil Wade, the local doctor described his analysis into the phenomenon as something akin to “Liquid Light” being present in the blood.
Some of the older residents had also started to “vanish” leaving behind nothing but the scent of ash. But not “cigarette ash” as mentioned at one point.

But how was it spreading?
Stephen already knew he and Kate were the primary hosts. But how else was it spreading?
He finds out that it is using the telephone lines as a conduit and calls Clive Smith at the local EMC to cut all the phone lines leading out of the valley.
But, it seems he was too late. The pattern no longer needed phone lines to travel. It was adapting, evolving at an alarming pace and had already reached a major telephone hub and taken control of it, dialing numbers outside the Valley as a means of spreading.

Frantic, Stephen calls Clive and convinces him to order a nerve gas air strike upon the village so as to stop the spread.
Clive tries to refuse, given that his own family lives in the Valley, but Stephen manages to convince him otherwise.

In the end, Stephen, who had avoided the air strike by hiding in an underground bunker attempts to call Clive so as to confirm if the Pattern had stopped. He receives no answer from anyone, and we are left to conclude that the Pattern had managed to escape the Valley and spread over the rest of the world, bringing forth the Apocalypse.

The Progression:

The story progresses by taking us through the lives and encounters of the people in the story. The “information” or essence of the people are contained within the mysterious ball of light, that guides you through the story.
It is important to mention here that the ball of light, takes on the characteristics of the people they portray.
Father Jeremy’s is calm and thoughtful, Stephen’s is rushed and frantic, Frank’s is steady and somber and so on.

Keeping this in mind, let us trace the journey of the ball of light through the lives of the key characters in the story.

Light 01: Jeremy-

My first encounter with the mysterious ball of light happened to be Father Jeremy.
Being a man of the cloth, we see that Jeremy goes around town, trying to help the townsfolk deal with this strange situation, they know nothing about.
As we proceed through his storyline, we learn that Wendy is not fond of Jeremy and vehemently insists that he will be judged for his actions.
We come to find out later that, upon the request of Frank’s wife, Mary, Jeremy helped administer a lethal dose of morphine to help her put an end to her suffering from the illness.
Frank knew of this and thanks Jeremy for being there with his wife and helping her when he was too afraid to do so.
Wendy, however does not approve of this and thinks Jeremy a sinner deserving divine judgement.
Later on, on the night of the Rapture, we come across a scene where Wendy is sitting with Jeremy and finally forgives him. She mentions how Mary was very fond of him and how she should not have been so harsh with him.

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Throughout the story, Jeremy goes around town, helping the folk and trying to understand himself the events that have been taking place around town. He comes to question his faith and tries to speak to God, asking him for strength.
Father Jeremy lasts longer than the rest of the townsfolk and finds himself alone in the Chapel, appealing to God, when he comes to face the Pattern. He assumes the Pattern is God and lets himself be taken by it.

Light 02: Wendy-

The widowed Wendy had a harsh outlook on life. She isn’t a bad person in any way.
She’s just been through a lot and regrets how things around her have changed. She is very fond of birds and upon visiting her house,
you find a lot of books dedicated to bird watching.

In the story, it is made evident right at the start of her timeline that she does not approve of Kate as Stephen’s wife. She would much rather Lizzie (who was unhappily married to Robert, the town drunk) be his wife rather than Kate and convinces the two of them to share a drink together.
This eventually leads to the start of an affair between the two.

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Wendy appears at many key points along the story all the while, wandering around town, looking for her son Stephen.
By the end of the story, Wendy feels a strange sense of nostalgia as she keeps thinking of her husband Eddie. She wanders through town, picking up the bodies of the dead birds she loved so much all the while looking for Stephen and convinced Eddie is with her.
When she hears the planes coming, she believes its Eddie and reaches out to the sky calling out to him and then dissipating.

Light 03: Lizzie-

Lizzie was engaged to Stephen prior to him leaving town.
Having had her engagement broken off, she ended up marrying Robert, the local auto repair shop owner; who as mentioned in many parts of the story, had a drinking problem. While Stephen was away, she got into some sort of accident that left her somewhat crippled. But she managed to live her life with pride and dignity despite this.
Upon Stephen’s return to Yaughton Valley, she goes out for a drink with him at the local pub, upon Wendy’s request and that leads to the start of an affair between the two.

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Lizzie asks Stephen quite a few times to tell Kate of their relationship as she doesn’t want to hide it, but Stephen dismisses her most of the time.
At a point in the story, Lizzie happens upon Sean and Diana and their little baby Dylan. Diana cries and tells Lizzie how they had crashed into someone drunkenly driving on the wrong side of the road, while trying to get out of town.
This leads us to believe the her husband Robert had either been injured or had died.

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Lizzie was in charge of the camp where the children of the town had their rehearsals for Peter Pan.
Caught up with Stephen, she leaves the children in the care of Rachel, a 16 year old girl.
Rachel was in love with a young boy named Rhys. Her father didn’t approve however and this caused both her and Rhys quite a bit of trouble.
Sean and Diana leave baby Dylan in the hands of Rachel while they attempt to leave town. It is hinted that neither Sean nor Diana wanted to have baby Dylan in the first place.
Rachel is incredibly empathetic and affectionate and even though she mentions that she wants to move out of town and live her life, she stays back looking after baby Dylan and the children at the camp while Lizzie tries to sort things out with Stephen.
Towards the end, when Stephen finds out that the Valley can’t be saved, he tries to get Lizzie out of town before the planes come.

It might be mentioned here that while following Lizzie’s light, you will see it accompanied by a little smaller light. This is because Lizzie was pregnant and the light carries the imprint of her baby as well.

At the end, Lizzie calls Stephen and tells him that she waited for him at the station but he didn’t come. She tells him that she loves him but that she has to leave, for the baby. But before she does, the planes arrive and drop their payload and both her and the baby dissipate.
Rachel, Rhys and the kids at Town Hall are also lost to this event.

Light 04: Frank-

Frank is Wendy’s brother and lives by himself on a farm on the outskirts of the village. Having lost his wife Mary to a terminal illness, he mostly keeps to himself.
He doesn’t talk to many people as he feels like an outsider to the village. Perhaps thats why he is one of the few people who actively spoke with Kate. They both felt like outsiders and bonded over this fact.
It is through Frank that Kate found out about Lizzie and Stephen drinking.
At one point in the story, Frank finds out that Stephen is trying to get an air strike called in upon the valley. He has an altercation with Stephen. Stephen tries to explain why it must be done but that ends up with Frank firing a warning shot at him as he rushes to signal the townsfolk of the impending air strike.

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Frank feels guilty for not being by his wife’s side when she died. She told him that what would happen would happen and that they would face it together. But he was too scared and found himself seeking refuge in the pub when she died.
He considers if Stephen is right in wanting to do this to protect the rest of the world and as he sees the planes arrive, he thinks back to his wife’s words and calls out to her, saying that despite his fear in the past, he’s strong enough to be with her now.
The strike happens and he too dissipates and becomes one with the light.

Light 05: Stephen-

As he had left the Observatory to check the effects of the Pattern on the Valley, Stephen’s story takes place mostly in the town itself.
Stephen is a complicated character. He is in love with Kate. He moved back to Valley, hoping that after a year, he could have a loving family in Little Tipworth with Kate.
Stephen however, upon reuniting with Lizzie, falls in love with her and ends up being conflicted between the two, not knowing how to proceed.
At one point in the story, Stephen ends up in a confrontation with Rachel’s hot headed father Sam and unintentionally bludgeons him in the head with a hammer while trying to keep him away from touching him and getting infected.

Stephen rushes around town, coming across the ever evolving Pattern and attempting to stop it.
Upon convincing Clive to call an air strike on the Valley, he calls Kate to tell her that after everybody in the Valley dies, they would have to kill themselves as well, as they were the primary carriers.
He hides himself in an underground bunker with the plan that when the nerve gas kills everyone in town, he would come up to verify that absolutely all possible hosts were dead and then kill himself.

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However, while down in the bunker, he tries to call Clive after the strike to confirm whether or not it had been successful. He receives no response from anybody or any frequency outside town. This leads him to believe that the Pattern had succeeded in escaping the Valley and had now taken over the world.
Having lost hope, he prepares to meet his end by dousing himself in petrol and planning to set himself ablaze. However, the Pattern finds him.
He converses with the Pattern.
He challenges it saying that it had taken every one he had ever loved from him, but that it would not have him.
Stephen tells it how after him, it would be all alone again, just as it had been in space.
But as he gets ready to kill himself, he sees Kate in the light of the Pattern and feels mesmerised. He reaches out towards the Pattern so as to touch Kate and feels the lighter drop from his fingers, engulfing him in flames as he too, becomes a part of the light.

Light 06: Kate-

While the events of the story transpired in town, Kate was at the observatory, sifting through the data, trying to make sense of what the pattern was.
She had had a fight earlier with Stephen about him cheating on her. Confessing that she wasn’t angry at the fact that he had cheated but more at the thought that he had considered her too stupid to notice.
Now, alone in the observatory, she dedicated herself to understanding the pattern. She tells Stephen on the phone that the pattern isn’t trying to harm people. It was trying to communicate but didn’t know how to.
It was trying to do so by assimilating itself into the blood and cellular structure of creatures. The birds and human beings were adversely affected by it but the insects seemed to be fine. She was sure that if she focused the power of all the telescopes upon the point of origin of the Pattern, she would be able to understand it. Because as of right now, it had moved beyond the realm of physics and human understanding.

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After a while she confers how, as she spoke, she felt as if she heard herself speak as well as heard her own words for the first time and understood them.
This led her to believe that the Pattern was now sharing her consciousness.
At the end, as you walk through the observatory and come across Kate’s recordings, you come to the realisation that the Pattern isn’t some malevolent entity. It is much rather a force of the universe, given a sense of being and consciousness.
Having had it within her, Kate felt connected to everything. She believed that the light was everything and all things were light.
She felt like the light, instead of taking people away, had brought them truly together.
Every body had found their “Pattern”.
Father Jeremy had found God, Wendy had found her husband Eddie, Rachel could finally be together with Rhys, Stephen with Lizzie.
And what about her? About Kate?
She could finally be together with “The Pattern”. She called it “Her Pattern”.
Opening up the observatory dome, she looked up at the sky, extended her arms and let herself and the Pattern become one.

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It was over.

Concepts that remain open to discussion:

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Having structured the story down to the end, we can now focus on some of the parts of the story that remain a mystery and try to formulate a sort of hypothesis to describe them.

The Infinity Symbol:

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Throughout the game, you come across the symbol for infinity at various locations. Sometimes on doors, on maps, on roads and sometimes in the Pattern itself.
What does it mean?
I’d like to think it refers to a singularity that the Pattern represents. When you go to Stephen’s house, you find that he has been perusing various books on the topic of a universal singularity. The Pattern could be a representation of that very singularity.
It could also refer to The Lorenz Attractor. We shall get to that later.

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The Clocks:

In one of Kate’s recordings, you come to find out that all the clocks at the observatory, the town and presumably the whole world have come to a standstill. They are permanently stuck on 6:07, June 6, 1984.
Upon looking through town, I found this to be true. The clocks in the houses really had stopped at that exact point of time.

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I believe that this was the moment the Rapture had happened. The moment life on earth ceased to exist and everybody had been absorbed into the light.
The Pattern of light it seems is a representation of time. And now that people and life were gone, time had no meaning. Time stood still as nothing would ever move forward.

The Fox’s Story:

While down in the bunker, Stephen recalls how his father had once sheltered a wounded fox.
His father was very fond of it and would often spend time talking to it.

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The fox was looked after and cared for by his father and Stephen felt jealous sometimes. One day, Stephen went to feed the fox but wounded and scared, the fox bit him.
Stephen’s father beat the fox to death with a spade.

Later on, Stephen finds his father alone and crying. As he cried he kept on repeating “I dunna ken, son. I dunna ken, it was hurting you” –
It’s just a wild animal. It doesn’t know that it’s hurting you.

This might be a reference to the Pattern itself. Stephen was thinking about how Kate had said that the pattern wasn’t trying to harm us. It was trying to communicate.
The Pattern being an entity so different from humans, doesn’t know that it’s hurting us in it’s attempts to communicate with us.

The Lorenz Attractor:

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Symbols representing The Lorenz Attractor appear at multiple places throughout the storyline, most noticeably on Kate’s work desk at the Observatory.
For those unfamiliar with what The Lorenz Attractor is, here’s a quick rundown from Wiki.

The Lorenz system is a system of ordinary differential equations first studied by Edward Lorenz. It is notable for having chaotic solutions for certain parameter values and initial conditions. In particular, the Lorenz attractor is a set of chaotic solutions of the Lorenz system which, when plotted, resemble a butterfly or figure eight.

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The Lorenz attractor (AKA the Lorenz butterfly) is generated by a set of differential equations which model a simple system of convective flow (i.e. motion induced by heat). In a paper published in 1963, Edward Lorenz demonstrated that this system exhibits chaotic behavior when the physical parameters are appropriately chosen.

The heat that drives the model might refer to the heat of light as well as the heat of human beings used by the Pattern. The Pattern might be trying to use this heat to convey information to us from a set of multiple probable scenarios.
Lorenz also delves into the realm of Chaos Theory in his studies.

The Lorenz attractor (AKA the Lorenz butterfly) – While at the observatory, if you look closely, you may also see a glowing butterfly among’st the specks of light. I saw mine while climbing up the stairs to one of the Observatories.

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I believe Kate was trying to study the Pattern. But it made no sense. It transcended human understanding of physics and (as it also dealt with time) relativity.
The data was chaotic. The only mathematical model that she could use to explain it was The Lorenz Attractor.
I feel this shows humanity’s attempt at trying to come to an understanding even when nothing makes sense.
Because it is through understanding that we receive closure.

The Sequence of Numbers:

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At the end of the credits you are presented with a series of numbers. These numbers follow what is known as a substitution cipher. It is an easy way of rendering a set of letters into a set of numbers.
With some patience and jotting down the equivalent alphabets, the series translates to the following:

In the wake of a human being’s death, what survives is a set of afterglows, some brighter and some dimmer, in the collective brains of those dearest to them. There is, in those who remain, a collective corona that still glowsDouglas Hofstadter

Douglas Hofstadter is a professor of Cognitive Sciences. The words are an extract from his book, “I Am a Strange Loop“.
In the book, Hofstadter discusses the metaphysical meaning of “I”.
He talks about how human self perception and self interpretation can manifest itself in the most wondrous and miraculous of ways in the minds of those closest to the individual.

Who are you playing as?

Given the fact that everybody on Earth has vanished, it makes you wonder. Who are you actually playing as?
Some people have mentioned that you play as the embodiment of Kate. But this seems unlikely as Kate is the one to tell you to look for answers in the light in the first place right at the onset of the game.
I’d like to think that I’m a human who survived the Rapture, someone whom the Pattern managed to communicate with externally without harming.
Someone who is a part of many around the globe who were untouched by the Rapture and will start repopulating the Earth once again.
A lot of people would disagree however and say that you are the Pattern itself, retracing its journey across the world it had taken. But I digress. Mainly because the emotions and experiences that you experience of the people left behind are just so… human. It seems unlikely that a extra terrestrial being or entity such as the light would go out of its way to experience and relieve these emotions.
Unless the entity is actually more human than we think and empathises with all our hardships including regretting the mistake it made while trying to communicate and find companionship that left Earth lifeless. Then it would make sense that the entity is travelling along the empty streets, trying to keep the people alive by reliving their memories.

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Concluding Thoughts:

There is a lot more that could be said about Everybody’s Gone to The Rapture. It is a game with so much scope that the possibilities are endless. Perhaps we won’t have a definite answer to all the questions we have. Perhaps its meant to be that way.
I will say this however.

It is a well known scientific fact that information is preserved throughout the Universe.
The light that we see from dead stars. The stars have stopped shining for millennia. But we see their light today as if they still burn bright. Because the light preserves the information. And the light will continue to carry this information forever.
Even in the case of black holes, we have the concept of Hawking Radiation which helps in the preservation of information.

Kate mentions in the end that, we must not cling to the light while fearing darkness. Because that is not living.
She says, “This world existed before we came to it, and it will continue without us: in empty fields and houses, our traces radiate, and others will come to dance in the light we cast”.

She also says, “We can slip away gently, unafraid, knowing that everything will continue”. This is probably referring to embracing life and the light, embracing death, knowing that the world will continue to be as it is, without us. And we may slip away into the afterlife, where our souls, our information, would be preserved eternally, molded by the actions of our lives on Earth.

Our actions, our decisions, they are all reflected upon the fabric of the cosmos. Eternally travelling, eternally preserved.
“The light we cast transcends our death. The pattern made by our living creates a bridge across the dark”.

All this makes me believe that the Pattern is a sort of force of nature. Something that has molded us as beings.
Just as we are made of stardust, similarly, we are also made of the Pattern.
And on the basest of levels and emotions, the Pattern understands us and sympathises.

It does not take us away. It sets us free.

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