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...
Dear Esther is by no means a terrible mod, but that doesn't exactly mean it's great. It is plagued by many faults and only really holds a niche value with a certain audience.
Dear Esther is a good example of why video games are indeed an art form. Though many areas (accept the caves) aren't particularly visually stunning, it could easily appeal to any art critic in terms of story.
You play as a man (possibly Esther but from the way the story is told it sounds like he is writing to a friend named Esther) who has had a troubled past. Someone (your wife, I believe) died in a car-crash (possibly of your doing) and you somehow find yourself on a small island with an infected leg. Yeah, there's not really any action.
However, the story is told in some kind of monologue that, and lets be honest here, is presented as pretentiously as possible.
That's really my big gripe with the mod. It's not that it has no combat or you walk slowly then a glacier. No, it's because it's by far one of the most pretentious games I've ever played. No, wait, it is the most pretentious game I've ever played, hands down.
Still, if you're one of the "artsy" crowd (snobby douchebags) then you'll enjoy Dear Esther in all its glory.
Oh, and don't forget to pay 10 dollars for the remake. Whats that? You don't want to pay 10 dollars to play a mod that wasn't that good to begin with? Well to ******* bad, because they're going to make you pay for it even if all it is is a turd in a plastic bag!
Just finished my playthrough finally after wanting too for quite some time. I went into the game having my doubts on how exactly it was suppose to play out, but I am completely satisfied. I was able to immerse myself directly into the game that I cannot easily do with other games. While the story was a little confusing, it still kept me fully interested all the way through. The biggest backing up the was the outstanding voice acting. The only nit-pick complaints I could make is that it was so short, and I was really interested to read the writing on the cliffs, but could not make all of it out. Again, these are just me nit-picking things. However, I do recall seeing in GameInformer that this is going to be released as a full game, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it. Well worth giving this a try, completely different than anything else out there.
The narrative work here is applaudable for it's originality, not for functionality or ease of understanding. It is a contender for games-as-art in a lot of circles and while I don't disagree, I don't really think Dear Esther qualifies as art when it looks so crude and rough hewn.
The story is, as many have said before me, close to nonsensical. But if you dig past the symbolism, a fractured narrative that is a bit Sanitarium and a bit Jacob's Ladder remains. A man goes into a coma from a car crash. The key guilt's of his dying moment are exploded, like a library book overdue, for example.
Little touches like that are interesting but ultimately buried in fractured story telling. The random generation and out of order sync for the letters and VA was a poor design choice and requires a physical notepad in order to keep track of everything, and I don't believe any experience--sans a mystery story--should require physical input in having to actually remember what is going on.
Dear esther is a very different mod, not the usual FPS you see being made these days. The atmosphere of the island is strong and very ambient. It gets you thinking on why the main character is on this island and what happened to him, what is happening to him right now and what is going to happen to him throughout the island as a broken man.
As the description explains "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..." I saw quite a few things on the island which i wont spoil to you but i can say they are quite interesting and leads you to where they're going.
The mod is very well made and makes you think. The narrator explains the situations easily and the mod itself is great to play and really gets you thinking.
So it gets a 9/10 from me
Beautiful in many of the areas it was good for, obviously writing. However, I thought the detail in the maps were a bit lackluster, and there are a few times where you just continue trudging at your slow pace, which is good for when you're listening to the dialog but not if your just walking.
I reccommend being careful and not rushing the game, there were a few points where I did or conceivably could have overlapped the narration. An experience just for the idea and the story.