A deserted island... a lost man... memories of a fatal crash... a book written by a dying explorer. Dear Esther is a ghost story told using first-person gaming technologies. Rather than traditional gameplay, the focus here is on exploration, uncovering the mystery of the island, of who you are and why you are here. Fragments of story are randomly triggered by moving around the environments, making every telling unique. Features a stunning, specially commissioned soundtrack. 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 and the tunnels under the island. Or then again, they may just not be, after all...

Post news Report article RSS Feed Dear Esther remake to get commercial release

The remake of the cult source mod Dear Esther will be released commercially in summer 2011.

Posted by chineseroom on Feb 11th, 2011

thechineseroom have announced that the remake of the critically acclaimed, award-winning mod Dear Esther will be getting a full commercial release in summer 2011.

The groundbreaking game, which replaces traditional FPS gameplay with the exploration of a desolate island, a deep and emotional story and a stunning soundtrack, will be launched on Steam later this year. Over the last twelve months, the award-winning mod (Indiecade 2009, Mod of the Year 2010) has been re-developed by Robert Briscoe (Mirror's Edge) in collaboration with the original creator, Dan Pinchbeck.

The re-make features a completely new environment that pushes the Source engine into uncharted territory; a re-orchestrated soundtrack by composer Jessica Curry, new areas to explore and an expanded story.

Originally developed at the University of Portsmouth (UK), Dear Esther has gained a cult following and international critical acclaim since it's first release in 2007. Briscoe and Pinchbeck first showed the rebuilt mod to Valve in 2009 and they were impressed enough to grant a Source license for a full independent release.

Pinchbeck said "We're hugely excited about the license. The new version of Dear Esther will take the game to a completely new level and we're confident it will be one of the stand-out indie titles of 2011. Once again, this shows that games are probably the most exciting and innovative medium on the planet right now, and we're really happy to be right at the cutting edge of that."

"For everyone who played the original mod, we can promise a totally new experience that will keep the soul of the original whilst pushing the game to a completely different level. For people who have never experienced Dear Esther, get ready for a game unlike anything you've ever played. In 2011, we're going to answer once and for all the question of whether games can be art."

You can follow the progress towards launch at www.dear-esther.com

Post comment Comments  (100 - 150 of 222)
Sadonikus Feb 11 2011, 3:30pm says:

Man its soo pathetic how all this kiddies here are behaving!

A great and under artistic aspects important game is going to get a MUCH wider audience with a maybe 4 bucks release on steam, talented developers are getting rewarded for the tons of work the put in, but OH, I WANT EVERTHING FOR FREE, GETTING MONEY FOR HARD WORK IS CAPITALISTIC SATANISM!

Yeah, Pinchbeck was planning this all along, getting the few people here on Moddb (compared to all gamers who buy on steam this is nothing) excited to something they already are excited over to make millions of dollars.

Guess what, Dan Pinchbeck doesnt exist, its an alias for Bobby Kotick seeking to destroy this last refuge for people who work for free for the sake of working free!

Seeing this ridicilous flame war here reminds me of why I totally turned my back to the modding community. And everybody who seriosly says he cant afford 4 bucks for a game maybe should consider getting a job. Oh, wait, I forgot, working for money makes you a bad person

+4 votes     reply to comment
skipper_is Feb 11 2011, 4:02pm says:

Well worth it!

+1 vote     reply to comment
ZitaX Feb 11 2011, 4:02pm says:

I would probably have donated 10 bucks or so upon release had it been free anyway. This mod is something special! To me, it offers a lot more then most retail games out there (and for the record, it offers more then most other mods as well)!

I will gladly and proudly pay for this when it's out on Steam! The developers have truly earned it!

+4 votes     reply to comment
MrTambourineMan Feb 11 2011, 4:14pm says:

Wow, I'm soooo disappointed at many MODDB members today. You're making all kinds of excuses why this game shouldn't go commercial, and let me tell you - none of your retarded arguments are valid. WTF: DE shouldn't be released commercially because it was started as a (visual overhaul of a) mod ??? Why? I mean what right do you have to say this? It is THEIR intellectual property and they can distribute it for free or charge for it, it's up to them and no one else. The only persons that should be damn ashamed of themselves are the ones giving idiotic comments like the one I mentioned. I say good luck to the developers, I WILL buy your game (no doubt) and please don't judge the whole community on basis of a handful of immature trolls.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Rawket Feb 11 2011, 4:23pm says:

As great as the graphics are, it alone doesn't make a game. Is there going to be action scenes and puzzles to solve? Or is it going to be just like the original but with pretty graphics? If it's going to be the latter, it will not justify a purchase just so you can "play" a technical demo that all it does is show off what source can do. What kind of crap is that?

0 votes     reply to comment
Varsity Feb 11 2011, 4:33pm replied:

So you don't value it. Guess what? We do.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Rawket Feb 11 2011, 4:38pm replied:

Oh, nevermind guys, the developers are going to appreciate the "game" not the consumers!

-3 votes     reply to comment
Leon_Kilean Feb 11 2011, 4:31pm says:

I like mods, and I love to mod, but man, moddb community really bummed me out today.

Dear Esther is one of the hallmarks of modern modding -or GAMING- scene, and now with the remake, adding amazing visuals on top of that, that seem to surpass Valve´s work but done by a SINGLE PERSON, I cant see it being anything less than god-like.. But just because it doesnt have 10 new npcs that you can kill for 50 levels, ie content, its not worth a cent?

+3 votes     reply to comment
Rawket Feb 11 2011, 4:35pm says:

I know that this game is not about shooting and guns blazing, but it needs something more then just walking around and listening to a story. I'm all about story, but I'm also about having a challenge.

-4 votes     reply to comment
Leon_Kilean Feb 11 2011, 4:43pm replied:

A Mental challenge, maybe? Its about learning the ghost story.

Having random stuff to do while trying to follow the story -the IDEA of Dear Esther- would annoy the hell out of me, it´d destroy the idea.

Same goes in inverse. If there was crazy amount of dialogue and cutscenes in my Doom experience, it would be dysfunctional.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Rawket Feb 11 2011, 4:48pm replied:

Deus Ex had huge amounts of dialog and depth while at the same time having great shooting sequences and explosions. It became one of the greatest games ever.

-3 votes     reply to comment
Tokoya Feb 11 2011, 4:51pm replied:

For some people, intellectual and emotional stimulation can come in forms other than shooting things.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Leon_Kilean Feb 11 2011, 4:56pm replied:

Deus Ex was an RPG, its a good game yea.
The way I´ve presumed Dear Esther works, correct me if Im wrong here:
This is a s-t-o-r-y, a tale, narration. A Different kind of a product. The lack of gameplay is on purpouse: the interaction with this product comes from choosing where you move, where you look, and how you interpret the story you hear depending on your navigation. Its supposed to work in your head, not thru your deeds.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Darklord42 Feb 11 2011, 4:53pm replied:

What the huge library of games that are like that not good enough for you? Not getting your fix?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Sadonikus Feb 11 2011, 4:54pm replied:

Games dont need to have a challenge since we are gladly not in the 80s anymore, this is just about the story, the atmosphere and exploring!

Thats what this game makes so outstanding, that it isnt a "game" but an interactive experience!

There are enough puzzles and action-scenes in the mainstream...

+3 votes     reply to comment
ZitaX Feb 12 2011, 7:09am replied:

(Reply to Rawket)

There are tons of other games and mods where you can shoot things! Try them out instead!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mr.Walrus Feb 11 2011, 4:37pm says:

Simply cant wait. I'll buy it immediately once it comes out, and gladly present money to such an awesome development team :) They definately deserve it.

+3 votes     reply to comment
OriginalPerry Feb 11 2011, 4:41pm says:

Nightmare House 2 was utterly amazing and took time to develop, yet they gladly gave it as a free Mod. I appreciate that the devs of this want to earn something from their mod (besides gratitude) and be recognized to further their career in the gaming industry (heres hoping they don't go on to work on generic MMO's) but this seems to be the wrong way to go about it.
If it was on UT3 engine and looked as good as it could be then I would pay for it, because it would be unique in most ways, have a lot more capability. But it's Source - there are beautiful mods everywhere, with stories to match, in-depth gameplays, all for free. I can name a number of non-profit mods that have the same amount of effort gone into them. This is just my opinion, you're entitled to your own. Sorry, but I guess I'll go play the original again. Good luck with whatever you want to achieve, though.

0 votes     reply to comment
StoneCrowUK Feb 11 2011, 4:44pm says:

i will probably buy this, i love my goey indie goodness.
good luck all the way!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Kodaemon Feb 11 2011, 4:52pm says:

The original Dear Esther made me a believer in chineseroom.

I waited dilligently for the second coming.

I now declare apostasy.

-1 votes     reply to comment
Rawket Feb 11 2011, 5:02pm says:

The story of the original while cute, wasn't all that great so why don't we just face it, they are charging people to see a technical demo. Nothing more, nothing less. I can probably ruin the point of playing this "game" by just spoiling the story to everyone before they buy this and this product will just fall flat on it's face.

-3 votes     reply to comment
AJ_Quick Feb 11 2011, 5:05pm replied:

can someone ban this pointless asshat already?

-1 votes     reply to comment
Rawket Feb 11 2011, 5:12pm replied:

Look, I happen to be very critical of games okay? I see hardly any constructive feedback but people who would blindly pay for things without thinking and people who attack people who disagree.

-3 votes     reply to comment
Sadonikus Feb 11 2011, 5:11pm replied:

The story is ambiguous, you cannot really spoil it. And noone cares for the technical side, its just the feel and the beautiful landscapes together with the story that creates the mood wich makes this game so great.

And yes, someone please ban this annoying troll!

0 votes     reply to comment
griefmaster_00x1 Feb 11 2011, 5:15pm says:

anyone played halfquake?
ps: awesome mod. missed original will get dis

+1 vote     reply to comment
Sadonikus Feb 11 2011, 5:19pm says:


You are not critical, you just have a totally narrow view on games as a medium. You think that games need to be games, need to be fun or challenging, wich is WRONG. Games can be entertaining without being challenging or fun just like books or movies but interactive, DE proofs it cause there are a lot of gamers who enjoy it despite not being a traditional game! Thats why you have no idea what you are talking about and why you should **** off and play Call of duty!

+3 votes     reply to comment
Rawket Feb 11 2011, 5:23pm buried:


Yes, games need to be games because they are called games. Isn't that the point? Instead of me buying Dear Esther, why don't I just buy a book and walk around outside so I can have the Dear Esther experience now?

You ever think you have a narrow view on games?

-7 votes     reply to comment
Sadonikus Feb 11 2011, 5:33pm replied:

The only thing games should be is an interactive medium, without rules of what games should be like and what not raised by self entitled nerds like you!

0 votes     reply to comment
Sadonikus Feb 11 2011, 5:33pm replied:

And no, reading a book and going for a walk is not an alternative to a game without action or puzzles, this stupid phrase alone proofs to me that I am talking to a stupid Shooter-Kiddie wich makes me ending this pointless discussion!!!

+4 votes     reply to comment
Povuholo Feb 11 2011, 7:31pm replied:

Dear Esther is an interactive story, which uses a video game medium as a platform to present itself in. That doesn't mean it HAS to be treated as a 'game' and conform to your definition of a video game, or that 'playing' Dear Esther is an inferior experience to reading a book.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Cyowolf Feb 13 2011, 12:59am replied:

Define "interactive game". Doesn't that require some method of input from the user beyond merely moving around?

Even if it fulfills that requirement, it barely does so. There is little else beyond sound and story in here. To me, a game is not successful if it has zero replay-ability. Its a one and done situation, to be shelved and never touched again.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mudo146 Feb 11 2011, 5:19pm says:

Congratulations and looking forward to it!

+2 votes     reply to comment
Rawket Feb 11 2011, 5:38pm buried:


Anyways, dodging these personal attacks on me, my final word: Needs to have something more than just a story and pretty graphics if it's going commercial.

-9 votes     reply to comment
Ekonk Feb 11 2011, 5:40pm says:

Great news guys! Looking forward to it!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Jokerme Feb 11 2011, 5:48pm says:

Looks like people're really sensitive here.

I didn't like the decision a company made. But why everyone feels the great need to protect the developers? Professionals making commercial games, what's so new about that? While it was a mod it was valuable because it had a "how to make a great mod" feeling. Now it's a game we already played.

I love Overgrowth and NS2. They deserve to be commercial games, but DE is something I wouldn't pay. Donation? Gladly. Payment? No. How many of you played The Graveyard? I supported them. That game was exactly like Dear Esther. Even shorter. Old lady walking on a straight line until she reaches to a bench in a graveyard. Then a song starts and the game ends. If you know what you are playing that's a great game but if you take it as a commercial project it is not. Still I bought that game although demo and full game was exactly the same. Because they deserve to be supported. What they wanted was support from community. After that they created their real game, The Path. On the other hand here I feel bad. If they knew they were aiming for a commercial project why didn't they tell us? If this was only a project for fun, what's with the "support us, we need money, because we worked our ***** off for this" act? Either way something is wrong. And I want to believe it's just "the response was so good, we thought it deserved to be payed".

Also everyone is being so protective to the point of supporting the game blindly. And I'm one of the bad angry nerd who can't a few bucks to a great game now. I'm sorry if I'm being unreasonable. Still, I'm behind my initial post. Sorry if you feel disappointed, but that's how I see it from a logical point of view.

I know how difficult it is to create a good game and how indie developers need to be supported. So I apologize from chineseroom. This discussion is a little cruel. I feel sorry for them. But I think what they are doing is wrong and this is only my opinion.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Sadonikus Feb 11 2011, 6:02pm buried:


So, The Graveyard is a good game but not a good commercial product? So good games can be bad commercial products wich makes them bad in some way and good commercial products dont need to be good games? Tale of tales is good cause they said the will sell their game but chinese room is bad cause they first made a mod and then got the license to sell it?

Excuse me, but you are an idiot!

And chinese room didnt tell us if it will be commercial cause they didnt knew if it will, read their posts!

-5 votes     reply to comment
Jokerme Feb 11 2011, 6:25pm replied:

Thanks for expanding my view with your great answer. I really appreciate it.

+2 votes     reply to comment
KILLER89(FIN) Feb 11 2011, 5:48pm says:

Rawket...you are just acting smart, while being an idiot.
Game CAN be a game without shooting everything that moves.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Rawket Feb 11 2011, 5:53pm replied:

did i say this needs to have guns?

-2 votes     reply to comment
Hotels Feb 11 2011, 5:52pm says:

I can afford it easily, and I really liked the original and was excited for this one, but I do not support a commercial release at all. There is no need for it. I would have even donated if you said you needed the money for it, but waiting for all these people to track you and get excited then saying "whoops, not free!" is not cool. Untracking.

-1 votes     reply to comment
Sadonikus Feb 11 2011, 5:53pm says:

@ Rawket
Yes, a nicely desgined world (good design =/= good graphics) that can be explored with many details that mean something. DE has it!

+1 vote     reply to comment
robofork Feb 11 2011, 5:53pm says:

I'm fine with paying, I was hoping it would stay free but they do deserve it.

Years of hard work does deserve something more than gratitude.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Rawket Feb 11 2011, 6:03pm buried:


so even if you didn't have fun with the "game", you would still pay developers because of their hard work?

-6 votes     reply to comment
Sadonikus Feb 11 2011, 6:11pm replied:

Only because you dont enjoy it, theres no reason to assume that everyone else doesnt!

This is getting ridiculous LOL

0 votes     reply to comment
Rawket Feb 11 2011, 6:15pm buried:


yeah, a sad pathetic boy who calls everyone who's opinion differs from his own an idiot is getting a little silly.

-6 votes     reply to comment
robofork Feb 11 2011, 8:30pm replied:

Just cause you're poor.

0 votes     reply to comment
Argoon Feb 11 2011, 6:17pm replied:

To this developers YES.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Tempest_Wales Feb 11 2011, 5:56pm says:

So is the mod even available for DL? Because the link says its been deleted. I don't mind remaking the game for commercial adventure, but to delete the free mod makes the devs look like money grabbing jerks.

+5 votes     reply to comment
CaptainLagfail Feb 11 2011, 5:57pm says:

I, for one, welcome our new capitalist overlords...

Honestly, as much as I don't like being 'strung along' (Phrase of the week, it seems? :D) I AM going to buy this.

For Dear Esther? No. Sure I'll get to play it and also I'm sure I will enjoy it but that's not why.

I'm buying it because if Dear Esther does a Minecraft and the devs come into some money, then I'll get to see more work by the Chineseroom. I'll get to see more experiments in gaming. I'll get to play something interesting.

And I hope to god they bring Briscoe along to re-map Korsakovia. And I will buy that too.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Sadonikus Feb 11 2011, 6:07pm says:

@ hotels
Selling it on Steam reaches a much wider audience wich generates much more reward than some donates by moralizer nerds like you that gather here on moddb.

What an horror to track a mod and then it gets a game, so many wasted excitment wich could have been used in getting a life XD

-2 votes     reply to comment
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