23 September 2011

Dear Esther

Gaming Genres: Visual Novel, Exploration
Story Genres: Horror
Graphical Styles: 3D, Realism, High Resolution
Platforms: Windows
Pricing Model: Free
Developer(s): thechineseroom
Publisher(s): thechineseroom
Initial Release Date: July 29, 2008
Website(s): Homepage
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. 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...

It did not enjoy Dear Esther as much as I thought I would. The story/dialogue/narration is very well written and exploring the island is enjoyable and interesting (the walking is WAY too slow), but the entire experience is the story and it just is not engaging. Basically, a unnamed man's (the protagonist) wife (Esther) dies in a car accident and he gets injured and/or contracts a disease and goes crazy either physically on this island or just imagining that he is. And it is almost more like a series of poems then anything else, there is not really a plot progression and while you can work out a series of imagined/real events most of it is a mystery and not necessarily even put in chronological order.

So if you enjoy poems this is probably the game for you, but anyone looking for an engaging story is probably going to be disappointed.

Images (+):
Related Media (+):
Indieness: Quintessentially Indie
Play/?: Should Play


  1. And here I thought I was the only one to put off playing this famous game this long.