Third party DRM: SteamThis game requires a free Steam account to play.
"One of the most haunting and well-executed titles of this or any other generation." - StrategyInformer.com
"A trip through a brilliantly conceived landscape that rewards attentive engagement with a moving story." - PCgamer.com
“A deserted island…a lost man…memories of a fatal crash…a book written by a dying explorer.”
Two years in the making, the highly anticipated Indie remake of the cult mod Dear Esther arrives on PC. Dear Esther immerses you in a stunningly realised world, a remote and desolate island somewhere in the outer Hebrides. As you step forwards, a voice begins to read fragments of a letter: "Dear Esther..." - and so begins a journey through one of the most original first-person games of recent years. Abandoning traditional gameplay for a pure story-driven experience, Dear Esther fuses its beautiful environments with a breathtaking soundtrack to tell a powerful story of love, loss, guilt and redemption.
Forget the normal rules of play; if nothing seems real here, it’s because it may just be all a delusion. What is the significance of the aerial -- What happened on the motorway -- is the island real or imagined -- who is Esther and why has she chosen to summon you here? The answers are out there, on the lost beach, the windswept cliffs and buried in the darkness of the tunnels beneath the island… Or then again, they may just not be, after all…
Dear Esther is supported by Indie Fund.
Every play-through a unique experience, with randomly generated audio, visuals and events.
Explore Incredible environments that push the Source engine to new levels of beauty.
A poetic, semi-randomised story like you've never experienced in a game before.
Stunning soundtrack featuring world-class musicians.
An uncompromisingly inventive game delivered to the highest AAA standards.
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.
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.
A Great Experience, But Not For EveryoneWiesler | 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.
A pleasant, 90-minute distractionrconstantinegmg | 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.
Bringing Literary Conventions to GamingBavarianGod | 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.