Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 37
  2. Negative: 3 out of 37
  1. Mar 9, 2012
    100
    Dear Esther is an auditory and visual experience that interweaves a consuming narrative and array of emotions. The game's actual value must not be solely based upon its gameplay length, but rather on the random elements and new secrets discovered through multiple playthroughs. Those that brave the journey into the narrative and world of Dear Esther will discover an experience that few games have been available to accomplish in years. Highly recommended.
  2. Feb 14, 2012
    100
    Dear Esther completely changes the language in which we communicate with a videogame; it is an interactive experience whose notion of interactivity demands much more from the players than they are used to.
  3. Feb 20, 2012
    90
    Dear Esther is a peculiar game. With its beautiful landscapes and script, some people could find it a great experience, others could hate the lack of interaction and the plain gameplay.
  4. Feb 17, 2012
    90
    One of the most haunting and well-executed titles of this or any other generation.
  5. Feb 16, 2012
    90
    Dear Esther. I will take flight.
  6. Feb 15, 2012
    90
    Dear Esther changes a simple hike into an emotional journey. Not just a (short) game, but truly an experience.
  7. Feb 15, 2012
    90
    Mysterious, poetical and full of atmosphere – Dear Esther is as magical as a short story from Ray Bradbury. The creative way of storytelling fascinated me from the very first moment.
  8. Feb 14, 2012
    90
    Dear Esther definitely isn't a product which everyone will appreciate - the walking-talking pace tends to polarise audiences quickly - but those who are tempted to try it out would be much advised to do so. You won't be disappointed.
  9. Feb 13, 2012
    90
    The beauty of Dear Esther is that it raises questions about content rather than mechanics.
  10. Mar 12, 2012
    88
    The catharsis that sweeps us in the ending can not be explained, nor foreseen. The game's immersion is not only intense, it's unprecedented. Surely it's not a title for everyone, especially for people that are used to "living" their games through interaction with other characters or objects. But it's groundbreaking and succeeds in its goal for the user to live a story, as in a well-written book. [April 2012]
  11. Feb 13, 2012
    84
    A trip through a brilliantly conceived landscape that rewards attentive engagement with a moving story.
  12. Mar 13, 2012
    83
    An experimental adventure that succeeds at being a genuinely touching gaming experience, even though it doesn't quite live up to all of its potential. The island you explore is absolutely beautiful and the story is interesting, if not exceedingly original. [March 2012]
  13. Mar 5, 2012
    80
    It's certainly not a title for those who prefer more traditional video games. Instead it's more an interactive exhibit, rewarding you for attentive observation and approaching its unique make-up with an open mind. Do so and you will find a haunting, thought-provoking piece of work.
  14. Feb 25, 2012
    80
    A game that puts story over gameplay, and in many ways successfully creates a unique experience. That being said, Dear Esther isn't for everyone. If you're the type of gamer who feels most comfortable with a laser assault rifle at your side, then you might not enjoy what makes Dear Esther unique. If you're the type who believes that games can be art or tell an interesting story, then Dear Esther may be more your style.
  15. Feb 24, 2012
    80
    Mesmerizing. Fascinating. Magical. Hipnotic. All these adjectives can be used to describe Dear Esther, a new playable indie experience that escapes from the boundaries of traditional gaming, putting us in the middle of an isolated island where we'll be the main character of our own victorianesque EA Poe's ghost, sadness and loneliness tale.
  16. Feb 23, 2012
    80
    Maybe not properly a videogame, Dear Esther speaks directly to gamers' souls. It's a very intensive experience and, after playing it, it's very likely you will remember this game for a long, long time.
  17. Feb 23, 2012
    80
    An interactive experience you need to live, if you're into mellow stories, but not really a "game" in and of itself.
  18. Feb 21, 2012
    80
    It's difficult to define Dear Esther as a proper game, but you'll surely want to play it more and more. A great example of a truly unique entertainment experience.
  19. Feb 20, 2012
    80
    If you're into the idea of experimental "games" pushing the boundaries of the medium, you might like Dear Esther, but if you're looking for a detailed story of Event A causing Event B which then naturally led to Event C, then this is not for you.
  20. Feb 16, 2012
    80
    Dear Esther, however, presents something truly different. It's an experiment to be sure -- and one that's not entirely successful -- but it hits far more often than it misses. It's a strong start to a new breed of adventure that asks players to think instead of clicking on items until something arbitrarily happens.
  21. Feb 15, 2012
    80
    Dear Esther offers many strengths; a non-conventional premise - at least compared to traditional games - a genuinely interesting tale, and a lavishly crafted world to tell it in. It's overall linearity is disappointing, especially in such a captivating place, but it otherwise delivers a refreshing experience that will stay with you long after it's over.
  22. Feb 14, 2012
    80
    Is it a game? I can't say I know the answer, but I do know that unless you're an IGF judge or a prissy dogmatist who sets out to pedantically define the boundaries of an extremely fluid medium, then you shouldn't really care. All that matters is that Dear Esther is worth your time - and that its two-hour long chill will remain in your bones for a long while after.
  23. Feb 13, 2012
    80
    The game is recommended for anyone who likes taking a close look at a piece of art that goes against the grain of the medium. You should consider checking out Dear Esther the same way you'd appraise a film. If you're interested in absorbing an intellectual story and gorgeous visuals without having to exert a drop of effort, take a chance on this curious experiment.
  24. Feb 13, 2012
    80
    Dear Esther spins an intriguing narrative, leaving you to decipher not only the outcome, but if this is even a game.
  25. Feb 13, 2012
    80
    Dear Esther is that rarest of things: a truly interesting game. It left me feeling pensive, mildly saddened, and confident that games have plenty of directions left to explore. If you're interested in what can be achieved when you abandon the conventions of games and explore the fringes of the form instead, it's a must-play.
  26. Jan 25, 2012
    80
    Thanks to this astonishing overhaul, it's now quite impossible to ignore. [Feb 2012, p.120]
  27. Feb 29, 2012
    77
    Play this just for yourself and try to see where things might go from here. The possibilities are endless and almost completely unexplored.
  28. Mar 13, 2012
    76
    It's a pity that thechineseroom opted not to include anything resembling gameplay – an interaction between the player and the creators that is the foundation of an up-and-coming art called "videogames". On the other hand, the story is very touching.
  29. Feb 25, 2012
    75
    An absorbing experience while it lasts, but it's short-lived and lacks any truly direct, interactive moments. However, its approach to story is thought-provoking and open to interpretation, traits that are generally lacking in the medium as a whole.
  30. Feb 29, 2012
    60
    A few poignant moments make this worth checking out, but what you'll truly feel is the emptiness of unfulfilled potential. [March 2012, p.48]
  31. Feb 25, 2012
    60
    There is certainly a place for more interactive titles such as Dear Esther when cleverly executed; one great example was the Super 8 interactive teaser included with Portal 2, offering a short but intriguing teaser that promoted the movie in a way that had previously never been attempted. As a standalone title that sells for the same price as other games that provide ambiance without skimping on gameplay, it's a much tougher sell. Still, it's a sell that anyone looking for a potentially soul-lifting experience should consider making.
  32. Mar 13, 2012
    55
    Thechineseroom studio managed to create something surprising and original, but Dear Esther is something you experience rather than play. [April 2012, p.79]
  33. 50
    To call this piece "a game" and rate it as an ordinary game is not fair. You can find many flaws in the game's mechanics but if you just follow the story your experience will be unforgettable. [Apr 2012]
  34. Feb 15, 2012
    50
    You won't find a more unique title all month, but with zero replay incentive and little in the way of memorable moments, this curio's cost is awfully hard to reconcile. [March 2012, p.102]
  35. Feb 13, 2012
    45
    The ironic thing is that the most pedestrian of stories can be convincing when coupled with intelligently applied interaction -- something Dear Esther stubbornly stands against. It's as if it wants to be a part of this wonderful medium of ours without asking itself why, which is exactly why you should seek it out and learn from its failures as a game enthusiast, critic, or developer.
  36. Mar 9, 2012
    40
    Unfortunately with reviewing this game I have to think of it in terms of should someone spend their hard earned money on this game and that hurts Dear Esther in a regrettable way. It tells a very interesting story in a mysterious and ambitious way and stands out as a risky decision on the developers but manages to be at least a little entertaining for how shallow the gameplay is. At a ten dollar price range I feel like I may have over paid a little and would have felt more comfortable with a price half that.
  37. Jan 10, 2013
    30
    With no story or true narrative to latch onto, there's no reason for players to care about what's going on. And there's only one thing ever going on in Dear Esther: nothing. Broken up into individual pieces-the graphics, writing, and music clearly show talent and might have led to interesting stories or games-but together they form a dull, lifeless experience that's quickly forgotten.
User Score
6.5

Mixed or average reviews- based on 566 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 82 out of 227
  1. Feb 14, 2012
    10
    To call this a game would be almost entirely inaccurate. This piece is better described as an interactive fiction narrative. The only game play mechanic in this work is to guide your character through the story. However, what makes this piece of work interesting and outstanding is the atmosphere that is created through the narrator's speech, the beautiful graphics, perfect music score, and amazing ambient sound. This is an experience that no one should pass up, my first play-through took up a little over 2 hours of my time; for $10 this is a fantastic deal. Full Review »
  2. Feb 19, 2012
    4
    A pretty visual game, but it is 85 minutes of gameplay for 10$. I cannot seem myself walking through that island again. Maybe at 3$ that would not be so bad Full Review »
  3. Feb 14, 2012
    10
    Originally a mod for Half-Life 2, this remake is very different from what you might expect a game to be.
    Calling it an interactive story would
    be more accurate. There is no "action", no real items or objectives, you just explore the island while a narrator tells you a story. It is certainly not for everyone, but for people that are looking for an experience rather than a game I would highly recommend it. The visuals and soundtrack are breathtaking, the narrator does an excellent job, and the atmosphere in general is amazing. If you are looking for something different and have the time and patience to immerse yourself into it, this game will provide you with an unforgettable experience. Full Review »