“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 it’s beautiful environments with a breathtaking soundtrack to tell a powerful story of love, loss, guilt and redemption. Winner of 2012 IGF Excellence in Visual Art. Supported by Indie Fund.
I like it when games dare to be different. I liked Penumbra, and I liked Amnesia even more; those games struck a nice balance with atmosphere and gameplay while being different from almost everything I had played before. This game, however, offers no such balance since it abandoned any semblance of gameplay altogether. It's been said here by other reviewers and I'll say it again, just to reinforce the notion: there is no interactivity to speak of and no real gameplay whatsoever. There are no meaningful choices to make, no consequences, no inventory to manage, no characters to interact with, no enemies to defeat or evade, no objectives to complete; you can't even control when your flashlight turns on and off (this feature is automanaged for you as you enter and leave unlit areas). It is a game that dared to be so different that it actually stopped being a game. Moving on, I don't want to obsess over what Dear Esther IS NOT this whole review, so I will talk about what it IS. As others here have pointed out, it is simply a different way of telling a story... a visual metaphor, if you will. In my opinion, it is an unsuccessful way of telling a story, and I wont be paying for any other "games" that may appear in this "genre". As a game, story, and movie respectively, it was boring and un-entertaining. Dear Esther's soundtrack is quite good, and it is visually is nice to look at, especially in the caves chapter; I will award a couple points for those qualities, even though I want to give it a flat zero. I'll award one more point to the fact that the developers had the balls think out side the box... in fact, they stepped outside the box, picked it up, folded it, put it in the recycle bin, went to the nearest Blockbuster Video and rented What Dreams May Come. So that's it, a generous 3 out of 10.
Not really a game. More of an interactive story, and I use the term "interactive" very loosely.
You walk around.
That's it. It feels more like a tech demo than a finished product.
Every once in a while some narrator chimes in to advance the story, but the experience amounts to someone telling a very short story very, very, very, slowly. It's like watching water boil in a pot......over a candle flame. Sure, it might get there eventually but you're going to be waiting a while and there's not much to do in the meantime.
On the upside and the only reason why I'm giving this game a 3/10 instead of a 1/10, the graphics are spectacular. Honestly, I didn't know that the Source Engine was capable of that and the developers obviously put a lot of time and effort into them.
I got this game as part of an indie bundle, but I can't recommend anyone spend money on this unless you really want to support the developers. And if that's the case, save yourself the download time and just mail them a check.