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Mixed or average reviews- based on 577 Ratings

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  1. Feb 19, 2012
    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
  2. Mar 7, 2012
    i got this game the day it was released on steam, and about an hour after i was left more puzzled than anything the game had offered. it wasn't due to the story, or not being capable of deep thought. some of my favorite films are from the likes of tarkovsky (where the stalker game came from), jodorowski, and have a love of art, literature and all things strange, minimal etc. as my user name would imply i've played games of every genre since DOS. point and click adventures and so on. something like dark seed, or the path is really more reminiscent of what i had hoped for. dear esther just kind of tells you a story for an hour. at the end, i had no desire to replay it, and was left wondering if the money invested went to licensing fee's to pay for the music and narration. a few things change places, and a bit of the dialog is mixed up in replays. there's absolutely no puzzles, or interactivity other than listening watching and holding forward. upon sharing these thoughts on a forum like steam, you're immediately clawed at by a relentless army of fanboys who must have skipped over the last 20 years of PC gaming. to some this game is probably a great breakthrough, but alas i felt like it would have been great only if it were the prologue to an actual game. overall the experience was very negative to me, i felt like this should have been half price at the MOST, if not free. to top it off i was in disbelief that news dropped saying they made back all their investment, in a matter of hours after release. i guess this is why we are getting video games that could have been so much more these days. because most of them are just cash in's. they see a marketable area and go for it, inevitably enough people will buy any game that didn't cost a million bucks to produce and make it profitable. Expand
  3. Apr 18, 2012
    This is not a game. It is a story, that's it. Nothing more than a story, where you can walk around. It doesn't have anything else but the walking and the story. I don't think that this should be marked as a game, since this simply isn't a game.
  4. Feb 18, 2012
    To each their own I guess. Dear Ester is not a game. At best it is an interactive movie. In reality it is one of the 1990 Multimedia scenery viewers. This "game" has been horribly mislabeled and advertised.
  5. Jun 3, 2012
    Horribly boring. I based my decision only because the reviews were ravingly good. Even the ratings were in the upper 80s. I will never base my choices on that again. I will from now on, download demos and see for myself.
  6. Mar 12, 2012
    A lot of people tend to try and justify the purchase of something that they cannot return. It's quite sad that people, held hostage by their own denial, have mistaken holding forward for gameplay and 'listless' narrative for a storyline. Sure, it has graphics, but every game has graphics. In fact, lots of films have graphics and some books have pictures in them too. And I think a film or graphic novel would be an infinitely more rewarding experience than this 45 minute "game", for the same price. Don't buy this. Expand
  7. Jul 16, 2012
    this is really not a game. there is not gameplay to be had. no exploring to do. in fact you really dont do anything. you just walk in a straight line from point a to point b. then its over. took me about 10 minutes to beat the "game". there is no content. no story. nothing.

    really poor.
  8. Mar 11, 2012
    Dear Esther, What a complete and total waste of time and money you were. You thieving bastard give me back my money and 60 minutes of my life. I recommend staying away from this boring, slow moving, poor graphic motion picture.
  9. Jul 16, 2012
    I picked this game up in the Steam Summer Sale on July 16th. People complain about video games becoming movies, then talk about this game as if it is something unique or game changing. This game is an interactive island walking simulator that tells you bits of story every now. The people telling you that it is an "interactive fiction narrative" or "interactive story" are misleading you. It is no more an interactive story than a book is an interactive story. The story is partially randomized at the very start of the game and it is set in stone at that point. You must then walk through the island, discovering fragments of the story, and have the game tell the story to you. There is nothing intellectual, artsy, or deep about this game. The game is stunningly lackluster in everything that makes it a game. This game comes across as being made by a company that wanted to do a 1 hour cinematic, but knew that moviegoers wouldn't care for this narcissistic, pretentious drivel. Expand
  10. Mar 5, 2012
    Wasn't sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a waste of ten good dollars. You roam around this island with basically the same type of background replicated repeatedly.. There seems to be no point to any of it. The cave is an endless maze of similar background where the most exciting thing are mushrooms that turn toward you as you move. I want my money back, this game was disappointing..
  11. Jun 18, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This "game" is pathetic and horribly disappointing. I'm very much looking forward to the sequel to Amnesia by thechineseroom, so I decided to play this first. Sadly, it was terrible.

    There is no option to run, so you have to maintain a very slow walking pace. If you try to swim around and 'explore' (as the game was advertised to be about) then you will drown, and a man will say "Come back." (which I'll get to in a minute.) Tiny rocks are impossible to traverse, and there is no jump button. This game is about exploration, but exploring is hardly rewarded at all--you may get a slight hint about the extremely obvious 'twist' in the storyline, such as finding a picture of Esther, or some medical bags, or seeing ghosts in the distance wandering the island, however very rarely do you actually get to hear extra dialogue as a result, and when you do it is usually extremely limited, and then you have to make the long, arduous walk back.

    Before this seems like a complete rant, I'd like to point out that the music and graphics are fantastic. The graphics are probably the best I've ever seen in a Source title, and the caves in particularl looked beautiful (plenty looked like they would make perfect backgrounds, and some of the outdoors environments looked great too...) but... you're better off just googling "pretty landscapes," and then playing some beethoven on youtube while you look at them than playing this "game."

    This game lasted me a total of forty five minutes, and I never see myself going back to it. It cost me 10 bucks... 2 dollars is the most this should reasonably cost. I don't understand how this game took other people 2 hours.. I looked all around the island, found many hidden things, read the paper boats in the water, and read all the text on the walls... but it still lasted me forty five minutes and felt like an eternity. That being said, after the ending, I thought it was the end of chapter one (especially without the credits playing... or anything happening, it just stayed on a black screen.)

    People seem to ignorantly praise this game for the fact that it tried somethign new, which, I disagree with. This isn't new. There are many games that favor exploration and storyline over gameplay (look at Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, or Penumbra.) The ideal is to have excellent gameplay, but also to have excellent exploration and storyline, like my all time favorite game Zelda: Majora's Mask. They also praise it for its storyline... oh, my, no.

    The storyline is undeniably poor. I'm going to spoil it in this paragraph, so if you still want to play this game for some reason, don't read this. Over and over, incessently the narrator keeps talking about the car crash, the drunk driver, and the road to Damascus. It never ends. There are medical bags laying on the floor. There is a point where you're on the road where the car crash happened, and instead of the car crash there's a medical bed. Everytime you almost die from drowning or falling, a heartbeat rises, and the narrator says "Come back." And the game ends with him saying "Esther, come back, come back.." Do I even need to say it? Its so painfully obvious and not at all clever.. the narrator is a man next to Esther, and he is talking to her in her dreams/coma after the car crash. She's coming to terms with what happened to her, and eventually dying (the ending.) Its not exactly difficult to piece together, and calling it clever is just silly.

    This game was a horrible disappointment, and I wish I had a refund.
    + Graphics
    + Sound
    - 'Gameplay'
    - Story
    - Absolutely no fun at all.

    This 'game' probably deserves a one or two out of 10, or, understandably, an aggregate of about 4 to 4.5... but seeing how inexplicably people like this and the aggregate is 6.5, I'm going to try to do my part to pull it down so other people won't waste their money like I did.

    Thanks for reading! Don't make the same mistake I did!
  12. May 16, 2012
    This so called game is nothing more than a story with pretty graphics. As many have stated, it isn't a game at all. It's hard for me to believe there are so many 10 ratings for something you just walk and let the game tell a story; a very weak story at that. The biggest problem is the dialogue doesn't match up with where you are in the game, which makes the whole thing feel pointless. Also, there is no interaction of any sort. The best part was the scenery and the music score, but one can only stare at the weeds and flowers blow in the wind for so long. Sad to say, holding down mouse1 to zoom in 3 inches is about as interactive as it gets. Do yourself a favor and put your money toward another game. You will be happy you did. It took 75 minutes to complete, and at the end could not believe what I had just played. Two thumbs way down. Expand
  13. May 12, 2012
    Confusing and boring story. No interactivity AT ALL. The beautiful was not enough to keep me playing till the end. I dropped the game after about 20 minutes. I later read in wikipedia the rest of the story and I still insist that it is boring and the end would probably annoy me even more.

    I wouldn't call this a game at all. And people giving this a 10 are probably out of their minds. If
    this is a 10, then what would you put on Amnesia? 310? Expand
  14. Mar 9, 2012
    Since we are reviewing games here i give this 3d show reel a 0/10. And to kids the only piece of art they've seen is located in a bathroom saying this is art, replicating reality with photo-realism and nothing else in mind is not ART, it's just mere artisan's work, and not even the best attempt at. The narration is even worse than the visuals, enough said.
  15. May 2, 2012
    10 dollars for one hour of a game with absolutely no replay value may be worth it, if you really like the story, what you can't tell before you actually finish the game. Still, the game centers itself in two aspects: 1 - Story, 2 - Graphics. The story is nice, sometimes you wish you could just press shift so the character would go a bit faster... The graphical part is really good, if you ignore completely all the plants on the ground. They are all camera-aligned billboards and, as you pass near them, makes the game look synthetic, killing part of the immersion (and immersion is really important to it, more than to most games). In fact, it's not really a game, it's an interactive narrative that is not really interactive at all (sometimes you'll wish you had an auto-walk button or something to keep the W button down). Have to say that the title is pretentious, that's a fact. Expand
  16. Aug 12, 2012
    Regardless of how good the storytelling is, or isn't, 10 USD is way too expensive for an hour of gameplay, let alone non-gameplay. If this is art, I'd rather stick to being an ignorant and uncultured hick.
  17. Sep 4, 2012
    I like it when games dare to be different. I liked Penumbra, and I liked Amnesia even more; those games struck a nice balance with atmosphere and gameplay while being different from almost everything I had played before. This game, however, offers no such balance since it abandoned any semblance of gameplay altogether. It's been said here by other reviewers and I'll say it again, just to reinforce the notion: there is no interactivity to speak of and no real gameplay whatsoever. There are no meaningful choices to make, no consequences, no inventory to manage, no characters to interact with, no enemies to defeat or evade, no objectives to complete; you can't even control when your flashlight turns on and off (this feature is automanaged for you as you enter and leave unlit areas). It is a game that dared to be so different that it actually stopped being a game. Moving on, I don't want to obsess over what Dear Esther IS NOT this whole review, so I will talk about what it IS. As others here have pointed out, it is simply a different way of telling a story... a visual metaphor, if you will. In my opinion, it is an unsuccessful way of telling a story, and I wont be paying for any other "games" that may appear in this "genre". As a game, story, and movie respectively, it was boring and un-entertaining. Dear Esther's soundtrack is quite good, and it is visually is nice to look at, especially in the caves chapter; I will award a couple points for those qualities, even though I want to give it a flat zero. I'll award one more point to the fact that the developers had the balls think out side the box... in fact, they stepped outside the box, picked it up, folded it, put it in the recycle bin, went to the nearest Blockbuster Video and rented What Dreams May Come. So that's it, a generous 3 out of 10. Expand
  18. May 19, 2012
    Very pretty graphics, the sea looks excellent and the mountains are great, if you like graphics then buy this program. The story is weird and interesting but this is NOT a game. It is a walk though a dark and wonderful 3D island, you can't win or lose so no game.
  19. Jul 19, 2012
    "Dear Esther, how horrid you truly are. Like a virtual tour I grew endlessly tired and helpless, evermore hopeless I was. Wanting, dreaming, and then dreading the time would come when I would then see the light~to find no answer; a shadows cast
  20. Jan 29, 2013
    I'm all for stretching the boundaries of what can be considered a "game," and I love games with a emphasis on story. But this game fell flat. The story was uninteresting, the music was forgettable, and the pace was unbearably slow.
  21. Sep 25, 2012

    I'd give the score lower were it not for the beautiful graphics. There are SO MANY DAMN BAD THINGS about this game that it's hard to decide where to begin. FIrst of it ISN'T A GAME, there is 0 INTERACTION with everything! No, really! THIS IS A HOLD W (forward) SIMULATOR! The story is really really uninteresting, this game is the equivelent of
    watching a **** film major's indie film that he couldn't get funded so he put it onto a game instead, easy to understand but arrogant and pretentious enough to believe it self to be otherwise, you will simply rather early begin to wonder when will the narrator shut up since you already got the idea of what occur a while back.

    So yeah, if you wanna spend 10 bucks like I did to see nice graphics go ahead or just you a GAME with good graphics rather than this......thing.
  22. Jan 28, 2013
    Oh dear. I "played" (read that as walked) though this game and was left wanting. Although the story itself was compelling enough I felt no connection to it's world as you can't interact with anything at all. It is essentially a walk though some admittedly scenic areas but that's really all there is to this "game". If your in the market for an art game there a lot better titles out there; but if you like waliking about (without leaving home) and listening to an audio book this is you thing. Expand
  23. Jul 18, 2012
    I'm all for great story telling in a game, but this is no game at all. You explore a landscape while being told a story. No puzzles, no combat, no inventory, no jumping. You can't interact with anything. None of the buttons do anything except zoom in (they all zoom in). Occasionally you find a fork in the path you are on and think "Oh man, some semblance of risk/reward" only to find out it's either a dead end or it winds back around to the other path. This is as linear,l and as boring, as a "game" can get.

    I gave it 1 point for the atmosphere and writing.
  24. Mar 13, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This is not a game. A waste of time and money. If you are going to have me push forward for an hour to hear a story then please just put the camera on rails and save me the boring journey. The slow trek up the rocks did feel like passing kidney stones. By the end you just want the guy to jump off the tower to end this miserable experience. The graphics looks great but that's about it. The menu says "Resume Game" What game?? there is no game. Moving a crawling camera through a level with no object interaction and listen to a block of text every now and then is NOT a game. Expand
  25. Jul 16, 2012
    How the hell do they get away with charging money for this piece of trash? This is not a game, there are no gameplay elements WHATSOEVER. You literally can't interact with ANYTHING in this game. There's hardly anything in the game, I beat it it under an hour (or finished it I should say, like I said there are no gameplay elements whatsoever). Apparently there is supposed to be a story here but it's so unintelligible that by the end you'll be left scratching your head as to why you wasted all this time thinking the story would tie together somehow.

    The creator of this game must think he's a real Stanley Kubrick, but in the end it just reaks of Uwe Bol. Trash trash trash... just utter trash, don't waste your money on this. It's not even a good looking game, the island is bland as hell and aside from a grant total of 3 or 4 structures and some meaningless paintings on the walls every now and then - the level design is literally just bland rock. The only reason I even give it a 1 and not a 0 is because I guess at least they spent a long time building their boring bland island, and I suppose there were 1 or 2 views that looked decent. In the end though avoid this game like the plague, it isn't even a game, nor is it art. It's utter **** seriously **** this bull**** I expected more from a game receiving such good ratings, you all make me sick.
  26. Aug 12, 2012
    First things first, this is not a game. By it's own admission, it is more an experiment of narrative in the game medium. It fails, in my estimation, a failed experiment. If you've played the free "Stanley Parable" mod for Half-Life 2, you will have at least an inkling of what kind of template Dear Esther uses (though clearly, the former is more lighthearted than the latter). Let's throw some complements about this title out there first. It does have some nice graphics and the environmental design is striking at times and...umm...well, I'm sadly out of good things to say. The next nicest thing I have to say is at least it only lasts about an hour. You start the game with no idea how or why you are there, nor any instructions. So, inevitably you begin to walk around. And I hope you enjoy walking around, because that is the only action that you, as the player, get to do. As you amble onward, every 5 or so minutes the game spits a bit narrative at you. Unlike the Stanley Parable, none of Dear Esther is particularly interesting or well written, and it most definitely isn't cohesive. I believe that lack of cohesion was done unwittingly, rather it was used as a mechanic by the game's designers to give the paper thin prose an air of mystery...being obtuse makes things hard to understand and, when done right, makes you work to follow the thread and give you a sense of accomplishment or reward once you start piecing things together. Problem being on this breadcrumb laden story's path, there is no thread. You come across bits of narrative slowly (and I do mean slowly - you walk at the pace of a geriatric snail, mash the Shift key all you'd like), and over time you realize none of them really connect. There is just random narrative, islands of text that refuse to work together in harmony to create an overarching story. Little things that do start to have any kind of meaning or interest or appear to be revealed in interesting ways end up being things that are already explained to you in the synopsis of the game. If you want a mild surprise, read as little about this game as you can - including, and especially, it's own synopsis. In the end, you might as well just fire up Skyrim, start wandering aimlessly, and play a 15 second clip from a different book-on-tape every 5 or so minutes. It'll be just as interesting. All I can say is I'm glad I was able to get the game on sale for $1.39. Expand
  27. Apr 19, 2012
    This is not really a game when you remove the traditional gameplay style. Besides the boring storytelling, decent music and good graphics of the Source Engine, this HL2 mod turning into an Indie as a remake should have been a computer-graphic movie instead on YouTube rather than playing through it. Therefore it's not worth the money and the playing time.
  28. Apr 11, 2012
    This isn't really a game. The only upside of this title are the graphics (great use of a old engine), and supposedly it's history, which I didn't bother to hear because the "game" itself is sooooo boring.
  29. Apr 1, 2012
    I'm writing this as a warning for people not to waste their money thinking this is a game. It shouldn't be marketed or sold as a game. Steam don't give refunds (which is outrageous in my opinion. They wouldn't get away with it in any other industry) so don't waste your money. All you do is just wander around. There's nothing to do or any way to interact. Yes the graphics are fantastic and the music atmospheric but what's the point? I can't give this any score at all because it's just a graphic showcase. I can't think I've ever been so bored. Watch tv if you want something that you can only look at at and not interact with at all. Avoid at all costs because charging money for this is an outrageous rip off. Expand
  30. Apr 28, 2012
    This is a poor excuse for a game. It simply isn't interesting to play and is just simply boring. This is not my type of game. The idea of listening to some boring English guy drone on about crap could put my in a coma. I do not like this game. I simply hate it.
  31. May 3, 2012
    Here is my detailed guide to Dear Esther. Hold W and guide your character with the mouse. That is the limit of interaction Dear Esther offers. Along the way there are segments of a story which reveals itself as you progress through the island. This is in no way a game and I would not recommend it at even 10 notes.
  32. May 6, 2012
    This is not a game its a CGI video of the Hibredian islands I know its £6 or so on steam but save your money go on youtube and look at the vista's on there it will have more gameplay than this
  33. May 16, 2012
    Where is the game here? Interactivity ends and begins with movement and observation. This is not the problem in itself; what is: the sum of all possibilities effected by this mode of "interaction" amount to no more than a monologue being regurgitated piecemeal. There's no problem with this not being a game - just that it is marketed (and priced) as one. Wandering around an environment with a couple of audio tracks does not constitute a game. End. Expand
  34. Oct 7, 2012
    I bought this game day 1 and found myself regretting dishing out 15 dollars for it. The island is beautiful and very atmospheric, but that's about all. I would have liked to see a little bit more interactivity than holding down the W button for an hour and a half.
  35. Jun 5, 2012
    To score this game even 0.01 would be generous. A game that is not a game, is not a game! If I wanted to walk round listening to an old man talk about a crash on a motorway that may or may not have happened, I would go to the local old folks home. I feel totally robbed. Does the graphics designer wear a mask? What is relaxing about having a headache whilst trying to figure out what this tack is all about? £6 my left arm. Rubbish. Expand
  36. Jul 16, 2012
    I'll give this game a 1, on the principle that it tries to do something different, it is visually stunning, and its got a great soundtrack. All of that, ups it to a 1. It is possibly one of the worst PC experiences I have ever had. Look at the screen shots and put on some classical over ocean sounds in the background and you've played the game. Don't waste even $1 on this game. I would not be nearly as upset if this game was touted as including "Exploration" and "Adventure" there is nothing. It is a straight line experience with zero interactivity. Art hanging on a wall is more enticing and engaging then this piece. Do NOT buy this "game".

    Honestly I'm considering not buying any game that gets recommended to me if I "Liked" this game. I would not trust their content at all.
  37. Jul 22, 2012
    The zero was for the sole purpose to bring down Dear Esther's score. I knew it was not a game and that it has no gameplay. But I thought I should give a try 'cause there are plenty of positive review.
    Somebody said it is a piece of work. A pile of crap would be the most accurate definition.
    You wander two hours on a very beautiful island, guided by an high quality atmosphere blending
    soundtrack. The purpose of Dear Esther is telling a good story in a different way. Unluckily, the story is crap. Random monologues, representing character letter to a dead girl are heard from time to time. The fact is, they don't make sense. And the story, if there's one behind this letters, is a crappy pile of cliches.
    As many suggested, a short film would have made more sense. If I knew, I would have refused Dear Esther even if it was for free. There are tons of things you could enjoy more, including being raped by a gorilla.
  38. Oct 16, 2012
    When I pay money for a VIDEOGAME, I expect it to be something I can play. And walking around on an island is not my idea of playing a videogame. The game is visually amazing. Yes. I can agree with that. Paying 10$ to walk around and just watch the environment while a story develops might be appealing for some. It's just not what I expect when I pay money for a game. Yes, Dear Esther is very artistic, but it's not what I call a videogame. Expand
  39. May 19, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This game is visually beautiful, audibly intriguing yet because of the content of the story I find it actually let me down like a falling stone. This contains spoilers so stop reading NOW! Due to the fact that I have actually experienced a "suicide" personally pretty recently in my "own" family, I see absolutely no value on the subject of death for "entertainment's" sake. But rather it's a harsh reality that we all have to succumb to one day, in our own lives. Because life is already very difficult at times, it sincerely pissed me off to see me investing 3-5 hours of my own life's time, to see the outcome of some unfortunate soul commit such a tragedy at the end of this short story. I will share a pure truth with anyone that's just curious enough to ponder suicide. I personally feel that if you are "brave" enough to end your own life? Then you are "brave" enough to face any problem that comes your way. And in closing, this game really made me furious when they tried to "incorporate" Christianity within the madness of this story. Trying to fuse the logic of ending one's life, to make it just ok with God that's I "offed" myself? Doubtful...very doubtful...It had a lot more promise, yet miserably failed with such a bad ending. Expand
  40. Apr 28, 2012
    Dear Esther is not a game.

    If it is anything, it is an art piece. However, the developers have billed it as a game, and this is a title it fails utterly to live up to. Artistic as it may be, and Dear Esther is certainly beautiful, only by the most loose of definitions can it ever be called a game. Simply put, it is missing any element that would qualify it as one.

    In games, there is a
    challenge. In games, your choices and actions have an effect on the outcome. In games, there is the possibility of success or failure. However, in Dear Esther, there is only observation. You walk through a world that you have no influence over, an audience rather than a player. Nothing you do will have any influence on the story. In fact, there is nothing you can do. You walk. You observe. You listen. The story is spoon-fed to you, but without context and requiring your own interpretation.

    In essence, Dear Esther bares more in common to a painting than a videogame. Look at it from any angle you like. Take as long as you want to study it, or see it all quickly. These are the kinds of choices that Dear Esther offers. It invites you to admire its look but not touch. The result is a very moving experience, but not a very entertaining one. It feels very much like seeing an exhibit in a museum. Indeed, artistically it is excellent. However, as I said at the beginning, Dear Esther is presented as being a game, and it is nothing of the kind. It must be scored as a game, and not as art.

    Dear Esther is not a game.
  41. Dec 13, 2012
    Went into this expecting some kind of Myst ripoff and I got an "interactive" movie instead. The narrator speaks cryptically about everything making what little story there is here very convoluted (randomization doesn't help the situation either). Dear Esther functions on intricate set pieces and music to keep your attention away from all the other problems with the game, like the fact it isn't a game. I'd be OK "playing" this if I got it in some Humble Indie Bundle but $10 for a remake of a 1 hour mod using the Source engine is ridiculous. The only reason this game isn't being slammed as being pretentious hipster garbage is because of the subject matter at hand. Otherwise this game would be totally overlooked and reveiled for being what it is: another overpriced, misleading, pretentious "indie" game. Expand
  42. Dec 3, 2012
    It's already been noted that Dear Esther isn't really a game as such. That's fine, and I'm actually a bit of a fan of interactive fiction (give Shade or Anchorhead a go sometime) and other 'games' that bend the definition a bit. However, despite the lovely visuals and the neat caving section I can't really recommend it. The prose is florid and purple, and thinks it's a lot more meaningful than it actually is. Despite the ill-considered random allocation of voice clips to each playthrough, the plot is pretty much given away at the start by chemical formulae on walls and overly obvious hints. Interactive fiction is fine, but this is bad fiction. Expand
  43. Aug 9, 2013
    Any number known to man would represent an overrated score for this walking simulator. Dragging your excruciatingly slow character across the island is terribly uninteresting, and the tale being told does not make up for that. If this was actually art, as some would like to believe, you would see at least some creative use of the possibilities of videogames at work, but no, let's just walk around while hearing a story. I actually paid money to hear a poor audiobook while exploring a virtual place quite resembling the real world a few steps from home.

    Art can explore new ways to use a particular media, and the greatest works of art may change the way we see that media in a permanent way. This game doesn't even try to explore the possibilities of gaming. If this was a movie there would literally be no difference, except you wouldn't be pressing W. It is not fun, it is not creative, it is not an interesting story, but you can still buy it and tell everybody who says it isn't good that the game is just to deep for them.
  44. Vag
    Dec 8, 2013
    See the hidden meaning in a piece of or a black square sign unsound mind. This is philosophy-schizophrenic interactive story for those who like a black square.
  45. Sep 9, 2013
    This may very well be the worst "game" I ever played.This is more of a demo and even as that feels empty.Its a hour long ambiguous plot of a story.Nothing, is concrete nor explained leaving ppl left to connect the dots.Some ppl would say thats one of the games beauty but from a paid game,it just felt incomplete.
  46. Jul 4, 2013
    There is no gameplay. Its NOT a game. extremeky boring, you just walk slowly trying to discover the correct way out there is an annoying story that doesn't matter too much since there is nothing today. Even if u don't pay for this so called game it would be a waste of time
  47. Jan 1, 2013
    This game was quite simply boring and not an "experience" as many call it. Its story isn't bad and the graphics look nice, but aside from those two features the game is no fun. All you are doing is walking around at a slow pace throughout the duration of the game and it is being acclaimed likely because people are attempting to look for something in the game that isn't there. Don't waste your time with this game, it would better be spent playing games that are guaranteed to be fun. Expand
  48. Jul 29, 2013
    It's not a game. You just run around and listen to random paragraphs of text which doesn't make much sense. Playing this so-called game for free is not worth the time spent, but paying for it is just nonsense.
  49. Feb 1, 2013
    I wouldn't even really call this a game. Its just wandering around in some nice graphics with a not so good story line that doesn't really go anywhere.

    Its kinda like a book with a great cover and blurb....but was never finished, and somehow is being sold in stores...

    I play most of the games I have at least twice. But this one I wont go near again as its just a waste of my time.
  50. Jan 15, 2013
    As a mod for a game, this is cute. As it's own game, it's nothing worthwhile. The story could easily have been packed into 20 minutes instead of 60-90 minutes of walking through beautiful, but generally uninteresting terrain.
  51. Mar 1, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Possibly one of the most lamest games I have ever had the unfortunate displeasure of playing.

    The only thing that is good in the entire "multi-angle" movie is the scenery.

    The scenery looks amazing, however I'm quite sure you could see better with a cheap blender file rendering. Thankfully Steam had this game on offer when I bought it and I can see why, had I paid full price I'd have been taking it up with trading standards for false advertising.

    The game is advertised as an "adventure game" when I think of an adventure game I think of games like maybe text adventure games Behind Closed Doors, Very Big Cave Adventure, or point and click adventures like Secret of Monkey Island, Flight of the Amazon Queen, Grim Fandango, or puzzle adventure games like Myst or Dark Fall, or finally adventure/action games like Tomb Raider, or Uncharted.

    This game doesn't fit into any of these categories. This game is a very bad and very cheap effort at the games company trying to make a quick buck.

    The thing that makes the game so poor is that in the game the end user has absolutely nothing to do, other than admire the scenery and move the character around the island.

    Yes really that is it. It's like reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book without any turn to this page, or turn to that page.

    You have absolutely nothing to do within the game other than follow the path round try and veer off the path to look at something you quickly find yourself stuck on a rock unable to go any further, at most if you get bored there is a really big chasm that you can throw yourself into or drown yourself in the sea but unfortunately that just leads to a message stating "come back" and then a regeneration on the nearest land.

    There are no puzzles whatsoever in this game, there is stuff scrawled on walls like science symbols which you would have thought maybe used later in some kind of puzzle or something, but no they aren't used for anything.

    The scenery is stunning, especially when your in the cave, but other than that it is nothing more than just an interactive multi-angle movie which is something DVD's did years ago and is nothing new.

    As for it's definition as a game I'd actually question as to whether that is actually accurate the definition of game is as follows

    "A form of play or sport, esp. a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck.".

    There is no skill, strength or luck and I don't think just following a path around an island constitutes playing either, so it is more an interactive movie than a game.

    In addition to this the story line is just as bad. The entire story seems to depict the lives of a number of people 2 of them ended their lives on the island, whilst another 2 managed to kill themselves on the M5 motorway the scene of which is re-built in a pool, and finally you end up being another victim of the island or do you turn into a gull at the end and fly over the island?? Very bizarre story line.

    If you ever played Myst or Dark Fall and thought you might like it if they removed all the puzzles then you'd like this, but if you like the puzzles and at least some kind of a challenge then this is not the game for you.

    The game took me about 30 minutes to complete this morning, but now knowing how it works I could probably whizz round that island in about 10-15 minutes.
  52. Mar 5, 2013
    Honestly, it's not a game. It could easily have been a cut scene or a short movie, but then again you wouldn't get the fan boy defence corps or all that juicy profit if it wasn't sold as a game. The game tells you the story of Esther's husband wandering through a Hebridean island (A thoroughly ugly scene to behold) coming to terms with his wife's death. You are somehow automatically expected to care about the wife or his plight and are subjected to 45 minutes of gripping.... holding down the W button. You walk painfully slowly through the island, often being encouraged to take a wrong turn to try and find additional dialogue. The problem is the dialogue just isn't interesting or rewarding. The whole piece is neither emotionally gripping nor philosophically gripping, so I honestly don't know what it is aiming for.
    What Dear Esther needed was dynamic content and emotion. What it has is neither.
  53. Feb 25, 2014
    The system won't accept negative values, so I had to vote 0.
    I really enjoyed the ending because the character does exactly what you wanted to do since mid-game.
    There are tons of things you could enjoy more, including being raped by a gorilla.
    Save your money, don't buy this game.
  54. Dec 24, 2013
    It might be a nice piece of art but it's not a game. It could have been a video I would had the same experience.... Nice graphics & story but absolutely no gameplay.
  55. Nov 20, 2013
    Not really a game. More of an interactive story where there is really nothing to interact with. The only positive side of this... thing... is the graphics which are very nicely detailed but there is just absolutely no real objective rather than walk to the end of this slightly confusing and completely unsatisfying path of zero events.
  56. Dec 27, 2013
    While it is certainly a beautiful and detailed world, Dear Esther is not a game. When you pay for a game, and expect a game, this is very disappointing. It is closer to a demo for a textuure artist and 3d modeler than a game. Not fun at all, lacks any real narrative and the experience is completely un-engaging. Don't waste your money on this.
  57. Nov 14, 2013
    Dear Esther is not a game. A game has rewards, mechanics, puzzles, ect. Dear Esther is an audio book designed for a game engine. It has you walk in a designated path to learn a story. Your first walk through you will not get the whole story. You need to walk around another time. The path that you can take is severely limited. There is no real exploring. If you see something intriguing in the distance then that's it. You've just seen something intriguing in the distance.

    Dear Esther reminds me of shopping for groceries to cook dinner only to remember you need one more ingredient to start and must go shopping again. Then halfway through cooking you run out of something else and have to make a 3rd trip to the store to complete dinner. Dinner wasn't about the multiple journeys you had to take. It wasn't about how long it took to cook. It's just about sitting down and eating a delicious dinner. If, before you began cook, you knew getting dinner ready would take 3 trips to the store you'd probably just quit and order take out.
  58. Nov 13, 2013
    Dear Esther is more of a visual showcase or tech demo than a game. That being said, I cannot recommend this title to a fellow gamer. The story is forgettable and all you do is walk down a very linear path for 2-3 hours. A great example of how a game being different does not necessarily mean it will be good.
  59. May 29, 2013
    I played Dear Esther and Proteus back to back, and it is clear to me that this is the superior "art adventure" game. I went in to this game knowing what it was and I have to say i was somewhat pleasantly surprised. The environment you are in is actually interesting and the narration that plays throughout your experience adds to that. But, I must say, I tried so hard to make sense of the story but I just couldn't do that. If your game is all about enjoying the story, yet the gamer is having a hard time trying to understand it, then you've messed up. The graphics and sounds are decently done, I can't really complain about them. The game length, however, is very, very short. I completed it in less than 1 hour and really have no desire to return to it. With such a short length, and a price tag of $10, it's very difficult to recommend this. There is no interaction with the environment whatsoever and that is something I feel was a mistake. This game could have really benefited from being able to find hidden notes or other items relating to the story throughout the environment. This would have encouraged me to explore my environment more so than I did. This was a promising game that ultimately fell very short of expectations. Hopefully this developer tries making a true interactive experience in the future. Expand
  60. Oct 24, 2013
    Mind numbingly dull; I forced myself to complete it despite how bored I was throughout because I was expecting some revelation to make the game worthy of all the praise thats been heaped upon it (and to get my moneys worth). As others have said Dear Esther isn't a game, its a SLIGHTLY interactive story (interactive in that you walk around and look at things, thats pretty much it). That'd be fine if the story was any good but its not; its a boring and very, VERY predictable. 2 points for trying something different (in spite of failing) and 2 points for the occasionally lovely environments. Expand
  61. Oct 6, 2014
    Bad game, not because it doesn't have guns or monsters, in fact I thought it would be GOOD for those reasons. I stand corrected. I didn't pay for a two hour game that is just a guy talking in riddles. I payed for a great story that I could really get into, because that's what it was meant to be. At the end all I was saying was "Huh? What? Is it over? What happened?" and to be honest, the graphics are horrible, Sure, it's great for the Source engine, but Source came out 2004, this game was released in 2012 people! If you want to walk around a countryside with good graphics, then get Skyrim. Also it only has two hours of gameplay. And even if it was longer, it wouldn't be any better because there isn't even any gameplay to speak of!
    Gameplay: N/A
    Next gen graphics: N/A
    Anyone who gives this game a score of 7/10, or above, should not be trusted. I cannot recommend this game to anyone.

    -Good atmosphere.

    -No gameplay.
    -No fun.
    -There is nothing to do.
  62. Sep 2, 2013
    Dear Esther,

    Your game sucks.

    You basically just walk through an (admittedly mostly beautiful) environment with no interactivity while you listen to little bits of a mediocre story. You'd expect the island to hold clues, but really just has some nonsense. I sort of knew the premise and was still very disappointed. $10 for this game/experience is very frustrating for a consumer. It
    would also be different if there were multiple pathways or something, but it is completely linear destroying all possibilities of any replay value. I would advise to stay away unless it becomes on sale for only a few bucks. Expand
  63. May 18, 2014
    The interactions in this game are very minor, couple that with the excruciatingly slow walking speed and you have a game that grows boring quickly. However if you can find it cheap enough you may enjoy this short experience.
  64. Apr 26, 2013
    This dosen't even deserve to be called a game. It's an hour or so long "game" where all you do is walk on some island and listen to narrator telling an very uninteresting story. If there is one thing i can say good about this game is that it had very nice graphics. But graphics don't make game good. This is something that i assume The Chinese Room didn't understand, and that is why we have this utterly boring game. I am giving it a low score because this is a game i am reviewing, but if this was made for artisic attempt, it would have better score. I am guessing that's why there are so many positive score for this game, because all this people looked at it as an art but not as a game. But i will not go there as developers are saying that this is a game, so i am giving it a low score. Expand
  65. AWG
    Jun 17, 2013
    Boring. I really wanted to understand what was behind Dear Esther but I couldn't do that over the amount of boredom this "game" inoculated in me: you can do nothing, you can interact with nothing, you never have to take a decision, a choice. You keep walking and listening, walking and listening. walking a listening.
    It's not a game, it's an audio-book.
  66. Jun 25, 2013
    The walking is jittery, the graphics are pretty bulky and unimpressive, and the story just isn't good. The sound effects don't even work well. Its like someone took everything good that Proteus had and forgot to put it in this game.
  67. Oct 17, 2013
    Most boring game i ever played. I never did anything in game just hold W there was nothing to do in there nothing interactive i liked Heavy rain and Beyond two souls, but i hated this game because its nothing, but environments and holding W button that's really sad
  68. Sep 12, 2013
    It's difficult to review a game like this because I don't know what it's trying to accomplish. If it wanted to tell a story, it should have been a small book if it wanted to have beautiful graphics, it should have had beautiful graphics if it wanted to be a game, it would have had mechanics other than walking. The combination of the 3 doesn't seem to help, and yet I still have absolutely no idea what to think of this. The idea of an interactive story is flawed an here's why. You can't 'read back' like you can in a traditional book, and even movies provide the option to rewind; here, if you lose your focus, you lose a chunk of the narrative and have no way of getting it back without replaying the level. This is a sort of thing that should allow you to walk back in time in case you missed something. Second, it relies on the player to progress the narrative. Instead of having gameplay to soothe a regular game's gap between story elements, this game has nothing but walking; there is nothing there to pass the time from A to B.

    I get that it's not supposed to be a 'game' in the traditional sense, but it leaves itself open to criticism when it does the ONE thing it's supposed to do in a sub-par manner. At the end of the day, I'm left with the sour taste in my mouth of an uninteresting story with a guy who's trying too hard to be British narrating it (I don't care if he's actually British or not). With nothing to pass the time from A to B but poor geometry and low-res textures, the game ceases to be interesting in the slightest. People are acclaiming it like it's the holy-grail of new ideas when it isn't, and I just don't see the point in Dear Esther, I'm sorry.
  69. Sep 19, 2013
    This so called game has absolutely no game play elements in it whatsoever. No interaction with the enthronement, not even a run key. The environmental eye candy is nice to look at but you're forced to trudge along at a snails pace while random clips of audio that may or may not have anything to do with what you're looking at play. If you want to recreate the experience for free go for a walk in the woods and talk to yourself. Expand
  70. Sep 23, 2013
    No plot, it was a sort of explore, but to me graphics are only good if it feels like I caused them. This is like looking at a high quality art piece. It might speak to you, but for the vast majority of the time, you are just wondering, "what is my role in this".
  71. Oct 17, 2013
    This "game" has to be the worst "attempt" at a gaming experience that i have seen, do not i repeat do not buy this "game" unless you have a fetish for holding down the w button for a solid hour. it is unreasonably boring drawn out artificially there is no objective no challenge and really no redeeming qualities, if you like these kind of games, get the stanley parable it is leagues better in every way.

    Quick breakdown of the "game":
    No real objectives
    No challenge
    One hour long
    $10 price tag
    No gameplay mechanics
    Not really even a movie
    Most definitely NOT an adventure
    Most definitely not a puzzle, there is no challenge

    Not the "most original first person game this year" (thats a quote from the "developer" i cant even call these people developers because this is such a poor quality piece of garbage)

    the one good thing about this piece of software, is the graphics, it looks decent. really it could have been made in 2007 but its not terrible

    This thing deserves every low rating it has gotten and frankly deserves more.
  72. Dec 29, 2013
    A pretentious non-interactive corridor walk with nice graphics.

    I have to say I'm probably the intended audience for this game. I read strange books and enjoy them, I listen to strange music and enjoy it, you get the picture.

    But this is just plain boring. There is no exploration per se, because it's just a walk on rails with lots of invisible walls and bits of narrative thrown at
    you along the ways. The narrator is of the type, who could make a sentence like "I had a cup of tea and then went for a pee" sound like it had deep Shakespearean meaning, but the story (or text bits) just didn't keep me interested at all.

    This might as well be a short movie, a walk over an island with puzzling narrative bits, because honestly, you just keep the W key pressed for forward walking and wait for new bits of text to appear.

    Disappointing, except for the good graphic and sound, which builds a nice background atmosphere.
  73. Sep 30, 2014
    Dear Esther is a beautiful game. Some points were so incredibly gorgeous - you have to see it for yourself to know what I mean.

    However, that is sadly the only thing this game has to offer. Dear Esther has somekind of story, but I find it almost impossible to focus on it as I am walking, and I am not going to stop every time the narrator says something. I've never been good with
    audiobooks, though, so take this with a grain of salt.

    Dear Esther is boring. You are just slowly walking on the island, thinking "shall I approach that house over there and waste my time or shall I continue walking in that direction?" At one point I even got stuck and didn't know where to go. The ending - seeing as I didn't understand the story - was weird and vague. Beautiful, I guess, but that's only worth so much.

    The game has a few cool easter eggs, apparently. A lot of love went into it, so it's too bad it didn't have anything to offer. Once I finished it, I had no intention to ever get back to it. I was happy when it was over as well. I didn't regret playing it, though; it's an interesting experience regardless, but there are better ways to spend your time.
  74. Apr 4, 2014
    Like everyone has already mentioned, this is not a game. It is a movie that you have to hold down 'W' to watch so I will rate it as if it was a movie. The story is somewhat interesting I guess, but the pacing is really poor. The character walks around slowly and every once in a while says some fairly vague things until you have pieced together what the whole thing is about. If the story had been presented in around 30 minutes I would have rated much higher, but it took me 100 minutes to complete. That is a good 70 minutes of wandering past rocks, glowing fungus, and things scribbled on walls waiting for the next dialogue to start.
    Giving this game 4/10 might be a bit generous, but considering that someone sent it to me for free I enjoyed it that much. If I had paid much of anything for it I might have been too pissed off the whole time to even like it. Save yourself a couple dollars and watch a play-through video on the internets. Gameplay wise it will be the exact same experience.
  75. May 28, 2014
    irst things first - THIS IS NOT A VIDEO GAME.
    This is something you may call an "experience". If you you can call an 'experience' holding "W" for an hour and moving around your mouse a bit while listening to some incoherent pretentious semi-random narration.

    The critics were delighted - 'a game not bound by rules of genres' they said. 'Beautiful narration' they said. If I did not have
    to pay for it I would be delighted too, unfortunately none of the reviewers or the game website showed us truth about this product. The hour of holding "w" is not worth 7 euros I paid.

    There is no story in this experience- and the narration is not a true narration - it is a bunch of pretentious aphorisms.
    There is no interactivity in this experience - there is no true "exploration" - you do not explore the island, you go almost a straight path without any real clues.
    However, there are stunning visuals in this experience - to be able to get such beauty from the an old video-game engine is surprising. It is a shame that it was wasted on such pretentious piece of an experience.

    You may say that I am just not getting it - maybe you will be right. But fans of this experience called people not liking it too low-brow to get it. Perhaps

    I would love to really explore the island (Miasmata style, be able to interact with objects even if just to watch them more closely or just move them about. I would love more story than some random sentences recited in the background

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 37
  2. Negative: 3 out of 37
  1. Jan 10, 2013
    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.
  2. 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]
  3. Mar 13, 2012
    Thechineseroom studio managed to create something surprising and original, but Dear Esther is something you experience rather than play. [April 2012, p.79]