Reviews for Dear Esther

50

Non-Interactive story

Oktarnash | Sept. 26, 2014 | See all Oktarnash's reviews »

Very small game, I believe it is around either 1 hour or 2 hours long, and all you have to do is press W, and move the mouse, really they should have removed movement controls, and just let you pause when you want to observe. I would say don't get this, but some people will. Although I would say just go watch a TV show, it will at least give you move bang for you time.

62

Do YOU think that this is a game?

therealBIGdeal | Sept. 25, 2014 | See all therealBIGdeal's reviews »

I don't believe that Dear Esther is a game in the normal sense. It doesn't have roguelike elements, it's not a top down shooter, and there is little to no player interaction. You simply walk, and listen. For a game that has very limited gameplay, the world seems very beautiful. In fact, the most disappointing thing about the game was the lack of exploration available to the player. I would love to be able to go to the grim and gray beach, or climb the foggy peak.

If reading and casual gaming are your cup of tea, then this game will most likely appeal to you. It has a good story that is simple to follow and have a nice length. However, if your preferred games are Skyrim and DOOM 3, look away. You have to approach this game with a certain mindset to get a satisfying experience.

75

Game with story, not gameplay.

Furrek | Sept. 15, 2014 | See all Furrek's reviews »

Not everybody will like game like this - where you are focusing on story, on looking around on beatiful environment with a great and dark climate. There is no shooting, there is no action, it's what you can call a game without a gameplay, or "walking" simulator, but it would sound like it's a bad game. Depent on people who are playing it. If you expect something different, not action based game, something for your brain, then you will probably enjoy Dear Esther. Music and graphics in this game is nice, but the most important is story, which is simply great. Dear Esther will make you play this game few more times, because you will be in need to know everything. Sadly (or maybe not) this game is quite short experience, but in return it's a great one. You can at least give it a try, if you play something other than action-only games.

40

Dissapointing.

digiconner | July 23, 2014 | See all digiconner's reviews »

I had high hopes for this game, as I loved Gone Home and I enjoy very story driven games. This game is more of an interactive story than a game, as all you do is explore an island while a narrator tells a story. The story is quite confusing, making it hard to cause an immediate impact. There isn't much to see on the island, there are only a few things that are really significant to the story. The graphics and visual are very nice and look good. However the walking speed is too slow, meaning that if you reach a dead end, it is painfully slow to return back in the correct direction, which unfortunately means that exploration becomes too long and boring and rather than trying to see all the island you find yourself just sticking to the one path.

If you're looking for an exciting game with great gameplay, definitely don't get this game. If you're looking for an interactive story with minimal gameplay and a great story, I would not recommend this game, and there are better interactive stories, such as Gone Home or Stanley Parable.

90

Breath Taking

BLUEKOOLAIDMAN7 | June 25, 2014 | See all BLUEKOOLAIDMAN7's reviews »

A lot of the criticism and confusion of Dear Esther is brought about because it is not exactly a game. There are no enemies, no objectives, no inventory, nothing we've come to except in video games. It is where art, storytelling and games intersect, to create a masterpiece.

You simply walk throughout the beautiful landscape while the narration directs you where to go. There are many memorable scenes and set pieces in Dear Esther that will stick with you. Dear Esther is not exactly a game, and that's a good thing. It proves video games can be a valid medium for artistic expression, and weaves a captivating story to along with it.

50

Walking Simulator

minoru09 | June 6, 2014 | See all minoru09's reviews »

People weren't joking when they said that about Dear Esther. All you do is walking from one place to another. There's no interaction. Other than that, the atmosphere in this 'game' is really good. There's also story narrated by your character but it may or may not sounds too pretentious for you to care about it. In short, it's one of those thing that you have to experience it yourself to decide whether you like it or not. Do get it only if it's on a bundle though.

30

Eager to play, but regret buying it

Rotinaj56 | May 24, 2014 | See all Rotinaj56's reviews »

I read the description and thought it could be a great game. I knew there wouldn't be much to it, except poking around an island listening to what happened to this mysterious 'Esther'. Hoping for a plot that meant something, and ultimately blew my mind. Unfortunately I was wrong. I was consumed by the graphics and the narrators voice, just hoping it had more to it. The walking pace was dreadfully slow, there wasn't much of anything to the actual game itself except the graphics. It could have just been my expectations, but reading so many reviews on how terrible others thought it was, I realize that this really was just an awful game.

If it's free, I would recommend getting this. But if it's not, I wouldn't recommend wasting your money. The graphics are not worth seven bucks.

60

A breathtaking story, but not really a game

BlockAgent | May 17, 2014 | See all BlockAgent's reviews »

The visuals and story of Dear Esther are great. The story is very touching. The environment and visuals of the game are superb. Gameplay, however, is non existent. All you can do in this game is walk around in a very linear fashion. Approach this game as though you are going to listen to a story read to you as you look around a beautiful island and you will know what to expect.

50

Is it a game or an digital installation?

Mandemon | March 5, 2014 | See all Mandemon's reviews »

This "game", yes in quotes, is quite divisive. To some, it's a masterwork, a true show that the video games can be "art".

On the other hand, there are cases like me, who look at this program and say "This is not a game. It's a digital installation." The program is quite similar to art installations, except it's digital. The game has no goal really, you just walk around, listening to narrator talking whenever you find something that triggers a voice clip.

Some people feel. Some, like me, do not.

Graphics wise the game looks good and that is pretty much all you can say. It's pretty. That is something everyone can agree on.

However, despite not really offering anything, it did give us something great. It opened the door to games like Stanley Parable and Gone Home. As such, this program works better as a piece of history, a milestone, than something to enjoy. As a game, as an entertainment value, well, I gave you two games. Check those out. I can only recommend this program as a piece of history.

76

Where art and games collide

Traldera | Feb. 22, 2014 | See all Traldera's reviews »

Do not have any illusions about this game, it is not an action game, or a puzzler, or an RPG. You simply 'walk' around the game, observing the world around you. Now, this does sound incredibly boring, and I suppose if you want a hardcore gaming experience, it is. However this game is not meant to be for the hardcore players, it is for those that want something a bit different. The world is immensely detailed and beautiful, capable of telling a story through nothing more than visuals and a character narration. Although the world is limited in movement (essentially corridors), you don't notice as you are directed along paths you would normally take anyway. Where lesser games place invisible walls this game places rock formations or walkway fences. You do not feel restricted as you navigate the world. This game is a work of art, with a lovely story and music to complement it. If you're looking for something different to fill an evening, get this game. You won't be disappointed.

94

A story that transcends reality ....

soura1993 | Feb. 22, 2014 | See all soura1993's reviews »

This game will take the explorer to another planet ... well according to me it's not a game ... it's not the traditional "shoot and run" .... but a story ... which is far beyond of our expectations !!!! Here the only equipment is a torch ... You will explore the lonely but large island and the only living person is you .. u will trust only the sound of the wind and the sea and the fragments of memory ... the characters "Esther" , "Donnelly" ..their true story will get blurred as the story progresses... And the amazing music and and the Environment,the sea ,the hills,the lighthouse ...will blow your mind.... This is another way of storytelling, a must play game !!!!!

66

Gorgeous but dull

Arteus | Feb. 21, 2014 | See all Arteus's reviews »

Dear Esther is a game I was really looking forward to at first but ended up letting me down in the end. While the environments are beautiful in places the gameplay just isn't there at all. While I find the term "walking simulator" a bit overused nowadays I just can't say it doesn't apply here. You walk around and listen to the narration as you do so. There's very little in the way of exploration, I spent a good amount of time thoroughly exploring every single bit of the maps and got nothing out of it. It doesn't help that you walk at a snail's pace and doing said exploration just wastes even more of your time because of the trip back to the main path.

My score is based almost entirely on how beautiful some of the environments are and how cheap the game tends to get during sales. If you feel like checking out some pretty environments it wouldn't be a bad purchase if you find it for a couple of dollars. Don't buy it if you're looking for anything more than an interactive (if that) story though.

90

A brave step forward for video games

Elfangorax | Jan. 23, 2014 | See all Elfangorax's reviews »

As you will likely have read elsewhere, Dear Esther really stretches the notion of what is traditionally called "a game." This is a very good thing. This work is a real boon to the argument that video games can and should be considered a form of art. It is anything but pedestrian, and that is what makes it so special and so well loved.

Dear Esther is visually astounding. Journey deep into the island's caves and you will be utterly in awe of the beauty therein. The music is also noteworthy, always appropriate in intensity for the situation, and never overwhelming it. The semi-randomised narration contributes significantly to the player's emotional state while traversing the island. His rantings and musings, his rage and his despair, all help lend colour to the landscape, and keep the player firmly rooted in the world before them.

Whether you would define Dear Esther as a game or not, it is without a doubt an experience you will not regret.

96

Quite an experience

gforcesa | Jan. 1, 2014 | See all gforcesa's reviews »

A really beautiful experience.Dear Esther uses Valve's Source engine to make it look so damn good.The story is really interesting but i won't say anything because you should try it for yourself.If you're looking for action or stealth or anything like that, Dear Esther is not for you.I would suggest you explore everything in this game because it's so damn beautiful and great.Every new location is more visually stunning than the previous and you'll really want a place like that to actually exist.If you want the full experience, put your headphones, turn the graphics to the maximum and enjoy.

80

Beautiful Stroll Along the Coast

NucularS | Jan. 1, 2014 | See all NucularS's reviews »

Screenshots do not do this game justice. It is an absolutely beautiful game, especially when combined with the soft, moving soundtrack. But then again, it is not really a game, but more of a slow virtual stroll along the coastline of a visually stunning landscape. The story is subtle, provoking thoughtful examination, but also making it easy to miss important clues (after two thorough playthroughs I still thought I was alone on the island). One down side is how linear the game is. It would have been better if there were alternate ways through the landscape, revealing different parts of the story.

80

A revolutionary approach to gaming.

icole8 | Dec. 21, 2013 | See all icole8's reviews »

Dear Esther puts you in the role of a man seemingly shipwrecked, or willingly stranded on an island, while listening to his monologue of fragmented letters written to an 'Esther', or personal thoughts of the island and its past inhabitants.

It's not so much a traditional game per se, but an experience; one walks through the corridors and hallways of a story brought to life in haunting detail. The story is decent, but one you have to piece out yourself, as the winds and waves assail your ears, creating an immersive, interactive experience of roughly 2-3 hours.

Should you buy it? Yes, but definitely not at full price - get it in a bundle, or discounted, as it is at the time of writing this. Otherwise, wait and be patient - it's not quite that good enough to warrant going for it immediately.

65

Different concept

abelegu2 | Dec. 20, 2013 | See all abelegu2's reviews »

Dear Esther has raised a lot of questions regarding game taxonomy.

It's pretty much a narrated story with no interaction with the world other than walking around and exploring as the story is narrated to you. There are some beautiful places you can discover, and simply walking around Dear Esther is a joy, but it's more of a distraction rather than an actual game. It's a good experiment to test exactly what a game is, but it isn't all that good of a game. If you're looking for action, you won't find it here. If you're looking for an interesting experience, exploring a linear but beautiful world such as this, then it's definitely worth it on a good sale.

70

Beautiful story-telling, but not really a "game"

omgtrent | Nov. 20, 2013 | See all omgtrent's reviews »

Dear Esther is very beautiful and the ambiance is great, but it is not a game in the traditional sense. Your only task is to walk through the areas as the story slowly reveals itself. You can move however slowly you like, and look at the details. There are no puzzles, no challenges. You are just there to experience it. And personally, while I did enjoy the experience and the story, I was hoping for something more. I finished Dear Ester in about an hour and a half, and even for a $5 game I like to get at least two or three hours of gameplay before I hang it up. But if you think you would enjoy a melancholy stroll through some very beautiful areas, with a story that makes you think, then it's worth it.

100

It isn’t a game, it’s an experience.

sheldipez | Nov. 18, 2013 | See all sheldipez's reviews »

The story of Dear Esther cannot be described, so I won’t bother. Broken down in basic mechanics it’s a single player, first person, videogame with a linear narrative that’s wonderfully bizarre that just so happens to be the most stunning, beautiful use of Valve’s ancient Source engine to date; the whole thing oozes of atmosphere. Something I would never have expected in 2013 with Source.

It’s first person, but there’s no shooting, it’s single player story led game, but there’s no other NPC’s. The game takes what is standard in videogame tropes and turns them all on their head. Shell out the few quid for a copy, bump the GFX up to max, bang your headphones on and get lost in Dear Esther. My money says you’ll be back for a return trip.

90

A Great Experience, But Not For Everyone

Wiesler | Nov. 14, 2013 | See all Wiesler's reviews »

Dear Esther is soaking with mystery and begging to be analyzed. In terms of mechanics you can only walk, and zoom in. So this is not the game to play to get an adrenaline rush or shoot things.

The story is really the highlight and to elaborate on it at all would be doing the game a disservice. By even talking about this vaguely I could have hampered the experience. So, just try to keep an open mind as you explore Dear Esther.

The game acts as a vehicle for a very interesting story. There are little motifs, cryptic text, monologues, and so on. This game is an exploration of what video games can do with a story. This is a unique experience in video games, and if you are willing to try something different, this is a game you shouldn't ignore.

80

A pleasant, 90-minute distraction

rconstantinegmg | Nov. 7, 2013 | See all rconstantinegmg's reviews »

After seeing the trailer and reading some reviews, I was intrigued. I was a fan of the PS3 game 'flower', where you fly around touching flower petals and beautifying the area you're in. It isn't a game in the usual sense and I wondered if 'Dear Esther' would be similar. It was, and it wasn't.

Both games are beautiful and it is relaxing to simply move around and explore. However, in Dear Esther, you don't actually do anything or affect anything. You can't even open doors. There were several things and places that I really wanted to explore, but couldn't -- like the light house which has all of its spiraling stairs intact except the first floor's. The top floor would have had quite the view, I'm sure.

I did like the story as told by the narrator. The voice acting was very good and the pieces he doles out had their intended emotional effect on me. I do wish it was longer, as I 'completed' it in about 90 minutes. Still, for the $1.87 I paid for it, it was worth it. However, with many gaming bargains out there that give you hours of enjoyment for $5.00 or so, I don't think I'd have been satisfied if I had paid full price. The score I'm giving this game is based on the price I paid. It would be lower if I had paid more.

90

Bringing Literary Conventions to Gaming

BavarianGod | Nov. 4, 2013 | See all BavarianGod's reviews »

Developing a consistent lexicon for storytelling in video games has been a vexing proposition for those involved in the industry over the past several decades. Literature and cinema have their own distinct rules and ways of communicating themes and idea to their audiences and video games should be no different than either of those mediums. Lessons learned are quickly forgotten or ignored as fans endure poorly structured narratives in hopes of finding the gems among the stones in the gaming landscape. Dear Ester is among gaming's Avant Garde, forgoing any kind of actual gameplay in a demonstration of the potential power of interactive storytelling. There are no enemies, no puzzles, not so much as a single item to pick up or collect. It would be natural to wonder why even make Dear Ester interactive at all. Couldn't it's yarn just be put onto pages or film? Opening with your in front of the Lighthouse with your character delivering a soliloquy, after which you are left to explore your surroundings. There are no objective markers, no text prompts, no intrusive and hideous HUD to obscure your view of the world. Exploring the nooks and crannies of the surrounding area occasionally prompts random statements from your character. These are usually excerpts from letters the the title character Esther. In these letters are few of the Island's former inhabitants are referenced repeatedly. There are also several themes that emerge from these excerpts and astute players will notice those themes reflected in the environment. A glowing red beacon on top of a radio tower is almost always present and, like a moth to a flame, is compels you to seek it out. Paths split and merge around the island and it's easy to find your way forward. This set up wouldn't be engrossing for very long if it wasn't for the visuals. Dear Ester benefits from an excellent graphical presentation and art direction. Textures are rich, dust picks up, leaves blow around, the foliage is dense, and landmarks dot an otherwise open landscape. Warm candle glow contrasts with cool night skies and somehow Dear Esther manages to make caves, often the most drab environments found in games, rather breath taking. Rock walls are scrawled on with luminescent goo, and the rocks form awesome structures with stalactites and stalagmites jutting from the bedrock forming nefarious teeth. Rivers flow through the cave's interior terminating in grand waterfalls. It is perhaps here that the game's setting can be most clearly seen as a metaphor. To deride Dear Esther for it's lack of actual gameplay is to remain oblivious to it's excellent adaptation of literary devices to tell a simple interactive story. It's a story that places you not just in the shoes of the protagonist but in his mind and soul. Its an introspective tale which is remarkably rare for a video game. To discuss any more of the plot would undermine the experience and the mystery. Allegory, allusions and metaphors are all present. Dear Esther explores new territory for narrative in an interactive media. With it's lack of a defined structure and a devilish desire not to be too explicit with its plot points Dear Esther's yarn will displease some an accusations of pretension will likely ensue.
There have been games in the past with exquisite narratives and there have been games that have extraordinary gameplay and mechanics. The biggest challenge is getting these two aspects of a game to work together harmoniously—to have game mechanics that fit into narrative themes. Mechanics and gameplay elements that reflect the subtext of the narrative itself. In many games story and gameplay exist in almost separate bubbles. Actual narrative often bookends levels and takes a backseat while the player controls their character. It's an antiquated formula that only a handful of games seem to have shaken. Given Dear Esther's unique narrative presentation I must confess to being curious as to how they might have tackled this issue and it was disappointing to me that I didn't get to see The Chinese Room's solution to this issue. The way The Chinese Room engages the player without traditional mechanics is through simple exploration. By making discoveries in the world you are treated to a bit of exposition. Symbols, diagrams, and writings can be found in the world to reflect elements of the exposition. A book or film could never deliver the level of immersion that Dear Esther offers. The experience only works because the player can choose to see or not to see things in the environment. The ability for the player to set the pace of the story and be given the opportunity to discover the details makes Dear Esther work. Dear Esther has had a remarkable journey from Half Life 2 mod to independent release. It's an exercise in adapting literary conventions to an interactive experience and it's an exercise worth taking part in. The excellent soundtrack and visuals hold your attention while the plot takes shape. The conclusions will stick with you long after the hour and a half it takes to see it through and it's likely that you will want to revisit Dear Esther to soak in it's finer points. While not for everyone this is an important game and it's my greatest hope that developers take note of what Dear Esther has managed to accomplish.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlNEYBirnXQ

87

3D Work of Art

lowsuperasder | Oct. 24, 2013 | See all lowsuperasder's reviews »

I have always looked at Dear Esther as the 'physically' largest piece of art I've ever seen. This game is all about aesthetics. Every detail of the island is designed very carefully, and they provide a real aura of beautiful loneliness. Just as any work of art, this world also has a story to tell and a feeling to communicate. The feeling is being alone, and this brought to the player through many ways: empty structures in the beginning, shipwrecks by the sea, a wonderful scene of the beach with candles in the water and an amazing soundtrack: all these elements create a mesmerising journey through a life, like stepping into a painting and a novel together. We see some parts of the hero's life through the letters or diary entries he wrote to letters, which we hear as he remembers them at certain points of the game. This is experience was very different from any other I experienced on the PC. A work of art.

85

Don't Wait Just Buy

MrThomasEdward | Oct. 23, 2013 | See all MrThomasEdward's reviews »

This is a STEAL for the price. DO not hesitate to purchase this beautiful and immerse experience. It will hamper your experience to spoil any of the details of your this brief journey. If you need a refreshment from all the toils of gun, sword, and spell play, then pick up Dear Esther. SERIOUSLY it is less than two bucks! Just buy it!!

89

A Strange Take on Gaming

Qwertyfour | Sept. 27, 2013 | See all Qwertyfour's reviews »

Dear Esther. It's game play is a bit lacking, but it's described as a first person art game, which is pretty unique. Basically, you're roaming around in this island, listening to letters written to Esther, but the whole experience is somewhat dynamic in that different events will happen at different places. It's considerably slow paced, but it's what you would expect from a slow paced, touching movie. The game will take 2 hours to complete, but the experience is completely haunting.

I enjoyed it, but those who are looking for action will not. It is absolutely beautiful in its graphics and the narration is fantastic.

50

This game is more like a movie than a game

EDP | Sept. 27, 2013 | See all EDP's reviews »

It's a walk through a story of which you don't know where it's going to end. If you like mystery with a haunting edge, lot's of fantasy but mainly a deep story: get this now. Don't get this if you expect a game in which you can do many things and interact with other people/things.

The game looks beautiful and therefore I give it 50/100.

75

More than a game, great player experience.

TheImpZA | Aug. 5, 2013 | See all TheImpZA's reviews »

I knew that this was not a game in the normal sense of the word, more like a journey of both storytelling and art. It took a while to get used to but I think I eventually got what the "game" is all about. The way that the recollections and the environment complement each other is great. And the environment! The Island is really the character that will stick with me, from the depressing moors to the astonishing caves.

One annoyance was that at times you noticed a brief stutter just before a part of narration, a bit immersion breaking but it either got better further into the "game" or I stopped noticing. So not a major problem.

71

Not at all what I expected.

friendbear | July 31, 2013 | See all friendbear's reviews »

Its truly a great game. Its more of a watch and listen game with exploring mixed it. Theres not much you can do. Its basically just a story. It isnt scary, its quite calm actually. Theres not fighting, action, or anything. Just watch, explore, and listen. The sound quality is exquisite. It really sounds real, if you have headphones on. The quality of the game is great. Highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good story.

90

More than just a game

Oblaque | July 29, 2013 | See all Oblaque's reviews »

To call this a game would be almostding is the atmosphere that is created through the narrator's speech, the beautiful graphics, perfect music score, and amazing ambient sound. This entirely inaccurate. This piece is better described as an interactive fiction narrative. The only game play mechanic in this work is to guide your character through the story. However, what makes this piece of work interesting and worthwhile is an experience that no one should pass up, my first play-through took up a little over 2 hours of my time; for $6 this is a fantastic deal.

70

Haunting

mahon | July 24, 2013 | See all mahon's reviews »

Now let's make it straight: it's not a typical game. More of an interactive story, experience, something to immerse in. The story is slow and haunting, it will remain in your memory for a long time, but if you want a game you'd better search experience. It's a visual and storytelling feast, but you don't do much more than wander around on an island. If the experience of beautiful graphics and great narration is enough for you - buy it. It's like a slow and poetic movie.

100

Not a game, but an experience.

darkyhbk | July 22, 2013 | See all darkyhbk's reviews »

Dear Esther is hardly a game. All you do is walk around from one place to another, doing nothing but walking. You can't even run. Just walk and admire the beauty of the landscape while listening to the narrator unveil the storyline. Dear Ester's storyline is very ambiguous. You can interpret it however you like. In fact, the monologue's lines often change from playthrough to playthrough. Since the game only takes about one hour to complete, you can easily go on multiple runthroughs to see different perspectives. I won't spoil it, but it alludes to life beyond death, faith, religion, and basically human nature. It's mature, beautiful and brilliantly put into context. It's a trip into your own subconscious , and it is extraordinary. Buy this game if you're tired of games not offering you anything interesting. This is an experience you don't want to miss.

82

A welcome break from overdone AAA Titles

spycid | July 22, 2013 | See all spycid's reviews »

It is a game which might not be liked by everyone. It's more like an interactive live-action beautiful narration of fiction minus the action part. The locations makes you realize what the character went through and you have to figure out what happened. Must play game for everyone who wants a break from all kinds of AAA titles.

65

Be wary of what you expect.

Nivear | July 21, 2013 | See all Nivear's reviews »

Dear Esther is not a game in the traditional sense, certainly not something I can imagine young adults or children enjoying. You control a first-person view of someone walking around an island, there is no HUD or interaction with the world around you other than being able to move. The game sort of has a linear pathway and as you walk a narrator tells a story. The visuals are beautiful and what it aims to do is leave you with a distinct feeling and connection to the story that is being told. It only takes about 50 minutes to complete if you follow the pathways and is certainly a fresh genre/type of game.

50

Not for everyone

F4T4LV0iD | July 21, 2013 | See all F4T4LV0iD's reviews »

Dear Esther is essentially a game of storytelling while you wander around on an island. Don't expect any action or any scary things to pop out while you explore the area, it's merely just a visceral experience as you see all the attractions the island has to offer and listen to the story from the narrator. Think of it as watching a book or poem being read to you, and rather than using your imagination to witness the events, it's right there before your eyes.

Rating this game is difficult, because it pertains to one's interests. If you go in expecting some action you will be let down. If you want to experience some storytelling you should find enjoyment in Dear Esther.

72

Decent story.

CrysisX | July 20, 2013 | See all CrysisX's reviews »

I find this game a little hard to understand as English is not my native language. There's nothing much to do in this game besides exploring though I must say, the environment is pretty well done! Overall, I had fun looking at things plus the music mixes really well with the setting.

80

The best games let you fill in the gaps

ConorEngelb | July 20, 2013 | See all ConorEngelb's reviews »

The best games are those that give you freedom. From a gameplay perspective, Dear Esther does not give you any freedom. However, it gives a type of freedom seldom given by a game: the chance to draw your own conclusions as to the nature of the story. The mysterious story is painted by a narration, over your exploration of a beautiful island; glowing caves, enormous waterfalls, towering aerials, abandoned huts. The visuals are aided by a fantastic soundtrack: sound effects blended with non-intrusive music make for an artistic game.

80

Not just a game

heavybear | July 20, 2013 | See all heavybear's reviews »

This "game" is not just a game. It is a walk with a friend who are telling you a story, sometimes it is a picture you can watch a nice view on a hill. So we can't say or play it "It's a game"..It contains different experiences. If we compare to other games, it is not a "press e to interaction" game, because you interact all of things you can see. Of course you can't touch or you can't use them but it's like you are in a movie. I recommend this game who really are bored "hack & slash", action etc. games. Anyone who searches a little calmness should play this.

70

Amazing "exploring" "game"

Speed4Runs | July 19, 2013 | See all Speed4Runs's reviews »

Dear Esther is an amazing video/game which has to be explored and understood in order to like it. It features a pure realistic and fantastic world with unbelievable graphics and performances, all combined with a great plot. It is a very short game, but really exciting, which can give you a lot of feelings.

-Technique-

Dear Esther featuers the best graphics that have ever been in videogames of these last years; they're very clear and very advanced, as well as very clever (there are some "sprites" that are even featured in old games like the first Tomb Raider, but they're put so well in the environment that they look like 3D objects which even make animations when you walk near them, but actually are always in the same position, they just "turn" in your looking direction, which makes great graphics and very high framerate savings). All this must be mixed with, thanks to Source Engine and some great tweaks, a very good/excellent performance, which is really amazing. Light effects and textures are really impressive in this game.

-Plot and sounds-

What makes Dear Esther so great is also the plot, which is really intriguing and deep. It seems to contain a lot of metaphors, and what actually happens is relative to player's interpretation. Now, combine all this with some great soundtracks and really creepy sounds, which will make of Dear Esther an excellent video adventure, which will bring you into its finest, melancholic and deepest experience.

-Longevity and gameplay-

Unfortunately, the game lasts for a very short time, because you can complete it in no more than two hours (even exaggerating; actually, you can complete it in a hour). Basically, all you do is explore an island and follow some monologues.

Technique: 7.75: ▪Graphics: 8; ▪Performance: 7½ [7.5]; Gameplay: 7½; Plot: 7½; Longevity: 3; Sound: 8;

Videogame avg. scores: 6.75 I'll give a bonus of 0.25 to this amazing game because it really deserves it.

85

DAT NARRATION <3

TGAlan | July 5, 2013 | See all TGAlan's reviews »

First of all, I love the narration. But that's not what i'm here talking about, the game is very good, (technically not a game, is more of a interactive book narrated, where you can move yourself) It's a very complex game, you need to be smart to understand it. I may not know what's the meaning behind it, but what I understood from my perspective is that this "game" means: "GoodBye, Cruel World".

85

Like lucid dreaming, quite the experience

Maghook | July 4, 2013 | See all Maghook's reviews »

After completing the main story, I gave Dear Esther some time to settle in my mind in order to determine whether or not I thought the experience was worth the price of entry. The fact that, days later, I am still thinking about the main themes of the game and revisiting the extremely surreal environments has convinced me enough to warrant this recommendation.

For me, Dear Esther is my perfect type of journey. I will not discuss the politics of whether Dear Esther should be considered a game, interactive media, or simply a "walking forward" simulator. No, Dear Esther deserves something more than such trivial bickering.

How I would describe Dear Esther would be akin to the process of imagination when reading a book, yet I am given the ability to go beyond the text. Where a pathway splits in two, I can choose which path to walk down rather than it be forced on me, left with a longing to know where the other may have taken me.

Everything about Dear Esther is perfect. From the sound design to the visuals; from the narration to the subtext; even the time it takes to complete the game is just spot on. Your first playthrough will probably last you just over an hour - one sitting - but that's all you need. There are multiple paths to take revealing certain aspects of the story and I plan on returning many more times in order to unravel the entire plot, but I wouldn't be lying if I said I just wanted to explore the island once more, it's quite a beautiful place.

There something quite cathartic about realising that you're not pressured in doing anything you don't want to, unlike with many traditional games. You could spend your entire time standing at the shoreline, listening to the waves crashing in the distance. You make your own goals and go wherever you feel most inclined. I was drawn towards a certain object in the distance and made that my goal.

The story resonated with me far more than most others do, more so than most novels or films. The sound design probably had a lot to do with that; the ambience of it all. I'm uncertain as to if the soundscapes are dynamic, but it all flowed so well if that is the case.

I'd hate to come off as some elitist but, since Dear Esther can be taken as quite pretentious and pseudo-intellectual (although it does well to hide the fact), it's probably best to avoid a game such as this if you're not prepared, or willing, to experience something more mature and with more depth than you're used to; the themes here are very serious and very real.

28

One hour of terrible storytelling

kubqo | July 4, 2013 | See all kubqo's reviews »

As title says, Dear Esther is nothing else, than 1 hour of W,A,S,D tunnel with zero freedom. You are provided with a fractions of a story told by mysterious storyteller. They does not make any sense until you google it. But by that you will take away the only part of this game which is supposed to be interesting - your own interpretation. At least setting is quite beautiful.

82

Great story

Czapens | June 27, 2013 | See all Czapens's reviews »

Dear Esther is an interactive movie than a challenging game. The atmophere, the ambience, the sense of solitude, uncovering step-by-step the story - a very immersive experience. The game should run on just about every modern PC, so everyone can uncover this gem in the sea of computer gaming industry. Beware though it's more like a movie, the player does not fight monsters, fire guns etc. Simple walking and witnessing the beautiful scenery and landscapes. A very innovative way of making a computer game, but if someone is here for the story, just as reading a book, the player will be satisfied. IMMERSION. I highly recommend.

91

The complete opposite of a "Hack n' Slash" game. Very profound.

notmyid | June 24, 2013 | See all notmyid's reviews »

Oh wow. Dear Esther was really a delicious treat for anybody who likes philosophical games and the likes. The game features many many clues and possibilities, you, as the player, must construct your own version of what happened. I must admit I was going to give this game a 7, but, it just stuck with me, I couldn't stop thinking about it for about thirty minutes. I checked other people's thoughts and possible endings and my own version was suddenly there, it made the game SO much better and profound. I got this game along with a bunch of other indie games for a dollar on "Humble-bundle" and man, it was so worth it. This game is seriously superb, you might not catch it at first though, let it sink in, it's worth the wait.

Warning: This game appeals to a very specific audience of people who appreciate games that are as artfully and skillfully crafted as this one, if you're the casual "Hack & Slash" PC gamer (nothing wrong there, I enjoy those too occasionally), don't play this game as you might be disapointed.

75

The screenshot adventure

lok0812 | June 19, 2013 | See all lok0812's reviews »

This is an unique adventure game that emphasized a lot of visual. You are stranded on an island and all you have to do is explore the island. Each playthrough is sort of different but there are just not too many for the game to generate a random experience. Great audio and visual overall, not much of a gameplay standard besides from the fact that you just walking around like in an FPS game without any sort of action. If you are looking for a relaxing genre to get away from all the actions pick this up and it will give you a few hours of island exploration.

87

Excellent

DanielZo0 | June 10, 2013 | See all DanielZo0's reviews »

It would be difficult for me to call this a game in the traditional sense. It is certainly an adventure, and the fragmented, random narration really helps to expand on the very heavy themes found in Dear Esther. I certainly enjoyed it, and would definitely play through multiple times, just to get a better grasp on the big picture that the plot constantly alludes to. That said, the ending is... remarkably intense, and the last action that you take really makes you think. Not enough games are willing to take existentialism and the strangeness of the unknown into their plot, and it definitely pays off in this one. This is the kind of plot that keeps you awake at night, thinking of actions and consequences, as well as how all things must end.

Gameplay 5/10 Atmosphere 9/10 Plot 10/10 Execution 10/10

80

The Island of Solitude

Azrael360 | June 3, 2013 | See all Azrael360's reviews »

This game is simply beautiful, but maybe saying "game" is too much. Is more like an "interactive experience".

You are a man who’s alone in this solitary island with practically no life to be seen, with the exception of some birds around and maybe some fishes. While you walk your path travelling through this abandoned place, you’ll be hearing what the protagonist has to tell. And that’s the only way to know about the background story of this man and this place.

Graphically, this game is astonishing and the sound incredible realistic, with the sound of the ocean in the distant and the wind blowing. And that’s not all, at some point you’ll have to travel through some caverns with water running through the walls with the echo of the drops… That’s why I prefer to call it experience than a game, because here there aren’t puzzles to solve, or “bad guys” to kill. You just walk, observe, look around taking your time, hear the man and continue. There are many details to look at that are related to the background story, and if you look really closely, maybe you can find something else…

Finally, the soundtrack is exceptional and beautifully performed. I recommend listen it in a dedicated sound system to really enjoy it, if you have the soundtrack (sold separately).

What could be criticized, is the slow pace of the walking without been able to run or walk faster, but strangely, the game already had that function implemented and can be easily added to the configuration files of the game to be able to use them.

The game can be completed in 2 hours, with the possibility to see something different if it is replayed. Maybe is not recommended for everyone, but for the gamers patience enough that are looking for something to explore, without a doubt they will enjoy it the most.

80

Walking: The Game

onewinged90 | May 27, 2013 | See all onewinged90's reviews »

The focus of Dear Esther is focused primarily on it's narrative and storyline. Although it is a first-person style of game, bear in mind that this game does not contain any guns, so no shooting. Narration can be heard when you reach a certain destination of the island, and some haunting moments can be experienced. I really hope that this game would be more lengthy, because it was over before I knew it. This is not exactly a game, think of it as a movie instead, a good movie that is. Recommended.

96

Wonderful

jerryhsiao | May 26, 2013 | See all jerryhsiao's reviews »

It's not exactly a game, rather it's a moving first-person story, but the art is beautiful, and the story has much more depth than at first. The graphics are beautiful from the start (on the pier), and the lush environments pull through when you visit the caves. There are stunning visuals, but it's not for those into action oriented games. This is more of a relaxed, laid back casual movie.

70

Trip around the island.

Stebsis | May 25, 2013 | See all Stebsis's reviews »

Dear Esther is just a walking game basically. You just go from a one place to another and listen to the story of the island. It's nothing that great though, and there just is no replayability. Game is over in couple hours too. If you get it from sale it's a nice experience for the evening, nothing really special but not bad either.

92

Unique game

pkmz30 | May 24, 2013 | See all pkmz30's reviews »

More of a story really than a game, but still has excellent graphics. You basicially walk around this island while a story is told to you which seems to be compiled of letters to "Esther" as per title.

Overall, this game appeals to people who are not serious gamers and want to listen to an interesting story.

100

Experience

cruelboy | May 21, 2013 | See all cruelboy's reviews »

I've loved this game! Is not correct to classify how a simple videogame ... Dear Esther is a trip - a graphically beautiful trip! - into a mind, into another world.

No action, never shooting all, no final boss ... no other life form :) Forget all classic mechanism of the games and immerge in a true great story!

Higly recommended to all people desire a new way to use a video game media ;)

54

Relaxing, stunning, but more art than game.

Shykon | May 21, 2013 | See all Shykon's reviews »

This game is a bargain, but is more of a relaxed art showcase than a game.

85

Weird maudlin "game"

gobigjeff | May 21, 2013 | See all gobigjeff's reviews »

This really isnt even a video game. There are no controls other than moving around, and nothing to pick up. No objective other than to follow the twisting paths through the island. It is more like a movie that you can have some control over. Other than that it was entertaining in a strange and depressing way that leaves you with a pit in your stomach. The graphics are quite good. If you've ever loved and lost this "game" is worth the one dollar price. You'll play it once and uninstall it but you'll remember it forever.

82

A Story, more than a game

Infiltrator | May 21, 2013 | See all Infiltrator's reviews »

Even though it's questionable if you can call Dear Esther a game since it's more of an interactive story telling. If you're going in to it expecting it to be a game, you're gonna have a bad time. But if you're going in to it with the expectation of seeing exceptionally beautiful landscapes and and a great narrative, chances are you'll end up loving the game.

76

A unique experience

Andstani | May 20, 2013 | See all Andstani's reviews »

I bought this game while it was on sale and I can't say I regret it. Sure it would be wrong to call it a game in my opinion its something entirely different.

You are basically walking across this island filled with amazing visuals listening to a very interesting story. You have no control but its OK. The story is quite strong but its quite short and like I said it doesn't really have game play. I would and wouldn't recommend this depending on the person. If they like to just chill for a few hours and just enjoy a short story then go ahead, otherwise I would not recommend this to any of my more than casual friends.

70

More an experience than a game.

Lazer | May 20, 2013 | See all Lazer's reviews »

Dear Esther is one of those things that you will either appreciate and get absorbed in immediately, or be bored within 5 minutes. You start on the coast, with no idea what you're doing there or even who you are. You slowly wander around the mysterious island and slowly learn more about the island and you. It has a very minimalistic approach to the control scheme, with there literally just being a WASD setup, and then a button to zoom in. The graphics are surprisingly great for what it is. Beautifully large vistas, lush foliage, detailed rocks/cliffs, and good implementation of anti aliasing produce an impressively smooth picture. The world just seems to have so much detail in it, and not just due to the graphics. Each and every building, cliff, cave, etc, has it's own character, and you can tell that a lot of thought went into the design of almost every inch of the island. Overall, the presentation of this game is great. For the price it is (I picked this up for £1.50 on a 75% off deal, so even better) it will definitely provide at least a nights entertainment, and will hopefully intrigue you enough to continue. You'll definitely only want to play this for the story, especially if you're into your mystery/detective sort of genre, or just a fan of escapism and want to enter a different world and explore.

66

A Game?

RyanFitz | May 20, 2013 | See all RyanFitz's reviews »

Dear Esther is definitely worth experiencing for the aesthetics and the haunting story that it tells, but it is a little too preoccupied with its own artistry to deliver a satisfying gaming experience. The semi-randomization might sound as though it allows for multiple play-throughs, but I found that the level of randomization was just not enough to make me want to go through the game again.

Moreover, this title was crying out for some sort of interaction beyond walking and jumping; one of the first things that I tried (and failed) to do was pick something up. Without that layer of interaction, you feel like you are no more than a passenger walking (very slowly) across the island.

Credit where credit is due, though: the game looks and sounds wonderful, with the faint music and soft-spoken voice doing a particularly good job of drawing you into the game world.

But the bottom line is that this is an interesting experiment with narrative, but not a game for everyone. And in all honesty, I believe that it lacks enough interactivity to take advantage of the medium on offer.