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Everybody's Gone to the Rapture and the case of the hidden sprint key

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is a beautiful game that tasks you with exploring a seemingly uninhabited town to try to figure out what exactly happened to all the people. The game's pace is meant to be deliberate, but the inability to increase the speed in which you move proved frustrating to some reviewers.

"There is only one movement speed in Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, and it is painfully slow," we said in our review. "On the one hand, I suspect this choice was made to encourage players to carefully take in every detail of the surroundings, and I respect that. On the other, it makes turning around to return to an old area an aggravating task."

We weren't the only outlet to be annoyed by this decision.

"The speed at which you move through the game is frustrating," GameSpot wrote. "You walk very slowly, but this causes you to look at everything and pay attention to small details. But sometimes, especially when doubling back through areas following golden light or sound trails, the speed can get tedious. Sometimes those guiding golden lights move so fast you can't keep up, rounding corners and flickering out of sight only to leave you in their dust unsure where to go."

Here's the interesting bit: There was always a run command in the game; it was just hidden, with no hints of its existence.

How did reviewers miss this?

The game originally allowed you to automatically increase your pace if you kept moving in a single direction. Developer The Chinese Room found that players wanted to be able to trigger that increase in speed themselves.

"So together with Santa Monica, we made a late call," The Chinese Room wrote in a recent blog post. "We replaced the autosprint with an R2 trigger hold, keeping the gentle ramp up to main speed. This then needed testing, because it potentially threw out all of the pacing we'd been working on for the last year, plus could cause issues with accidentally parkouring into places you couldn't escape from, creating game-breaking bugs. All this took time."

Time is a limited resource in game development, and one of the casualties in this situation was the menu.

"And then suddenly launch was right on top of us, and something had been missed," the blog post stated. "The controller icon in the options menu was missing the sprint instruction, and it hadn't been localized. Localization takes about 24 hours, but because the UI is build in Flash, it would have to be changed, and that would mean a full round of testing before creating a patch — about 4-5 days through the global QA pipeline, which we're doing now, but wasn't ready in time for release. It's in the online manual, but not at the start of the game."

So without reading the online manual — and who does that? — there was no way to know the sprint button existed.

"We probably should have announced the run button before launch, but we didn't," The Chinese Room said. "That was a bad call, and we've paid for it in the reviews. But the most important thing is that we get the word out to players, so here we go — although we'd love you to take your time and explore Yaughton at a slow, steady pace, if you need to backtrack or get around more quickly, hold down R2 — it'll take a few seconds before you are running fully, but it will speed your movement up."

We'll be testing this hidden feature and updating our review if it proves to make a considerable difference in our enjoyment.

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