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 RSS New version update + research

Details of changes to the new version of Dear Esther; plus how we'd love you to help us with some research based on the project...

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We're currently working on a new version of Dear Esther, responding to many of the comments made here (thanks to everyone for those). Key areas to change are:

1. Getting rid of those invisible walls
2. Making the pathways more obvious in the first two levels
3. Dealing with some texturing and displacement issues
4. Adding a few more cues in harder to reach places (you explored more than we thought you would)
5. Deadling with the double-cues on the west side
6. Extending the caves.

All the video footage of errors has been brilliant, thanks for all that.

Secondly, a few people have mailed through their interpretations of the story, which has been really interesting and brilliant to get. I'd love to get more of these, see how people have nailed it all together. It would really help us with the research ideas that sat behind the project. PM me your version of the plot - it'd be very appreciated (and I will eventually release my version). We may well use your contributions in a research paper, but I'll contact you directly for a permission in that case. Any questions, drop me a line.


Hi there.
I've been in awe of the video and the images.
I've read the responses and wanted to download and play.
Now that I see you guys are working on a newer version, I'm going to wait patiently and play that instead. Because I love to emerge into a game. I dunno, I have this tingling sensation whenever I feel a game is different, special. an ICO, SOtC, Beyond good and evil kind of feeling.

there just too little games wich have artistic value, thanks for that.

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chineseroom Author


sorry to have not got back before -= yeah, hopefully will re-release in a week or so - will let you know as soon as it's finished. Cheers for the response!

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Oh, in a week?
In that case I'm gonna wait, too.

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Release the details of the official plot soon! All this speculation and thinking is killing me, I'm dying to know more about the almost obnoxiously ambiguous story line.

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I have never played something like this before. This is a great piece of art.
I'm writing stories for myselft and I always try to describe a certain undescribable element: tthe emptyness between the real spaces which is the most scariest thing you can imagine, because you CAN'T image in.
"Dear esther" manages to come very close to this element.
I'm german so it's hard for me to understand the plot, but I'm working on it.
My assumptions are so far:
- Esther and Donelly, Paul and Jacobson are the same person in a way, I can't really define, anyway, at the end the speaker seems to express this
- Esther died in a car accident caused by a heart attack of Paul
- the protagonist himself has drawn all the strange chimcal symbols and stuff with the paint you can see at the house at the beginning
and finally:
The island isn't real because at the final bay, there is a formation of rocks in the water which forms, when you look it from above, the chemical expressen for Ethanol, C2H6O. This can't be a coincidence.
I will keep exploring.
I have to find out what the chemical molecules drawn on the rock are called.

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I believe the main character and island are real, else how can you die from a long fall? The island is the main character's way to rationalize Esther's death. He felt a great deal of emotion about her. Perhaps she was his ex-wife? Paul being Esther's new love interest?

As for pointing out who is who (Esther and Donnelly, Esther Donnelly), Donnelly (mentioned as one word) is a he; perhaps this is the main character? Donnelly is mentioned as being dilerious from syphilis (and dying? can't remember).

Whispers of the phrase "come back" is what he wants of Esther..not only in flesh, but as a permanent fixture in his life, much like she was before.

The person at the radio tower...probably a hallucination due to how many pain pills he's been taking during the journey.

Finally, the "game" (i use that loosely; this is so much more than a game/mod) is a final walkthrough of the main character's creation: the island and its symbols. Once the tour is completed and the story is told, the main character has no reason to live anymore.

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Well, I haven't been able to play it much, or properly for that matter (My dad's watching TV), but from what I've played it's a great mod. It's intelligent, for one thing, as well as creepy enough to make you shiver. Its better than most other mods I've played.

I got down to the beach after he talks about the guy wanting solitude. After that I started hearing the words "come back" being whispered. Over and over again. They stopped, and then after about 30 seconds they were shouted and the screen started shaking, then I died. No idea why, but it was freaking awesome.

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