Dear Esther PC

User Score
6.5

Mixed or average reviews- based on 681 Ratings

User score distribution:

Review this game

  1. Your Score
    0 out of 10
    Rate this:
    • 10
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 1
    • 0
    • 0
  1. Submit
  2. Check Spelling
  1. Mar 4, 2012
    6
    I liked it but it just didn't make me feel like a part of the story, it felt more like walking a guided tour. I like games with a good story but this is more like an interactive picture book. Exploration is hardly awarded with extra depth in the story and it takes far to long to walk back to the right path however there are some very nice places to see. One more minor thing that annoyed meI liked it but it just didn't make me feel like a part of the story, it felt more like walking a guided tour. I like games with a good story but this is more like an interactive picture book. Exploration is hardly awarded with extra depth in the story and it takes far to long to walk back to the right path however there are some very nice places to see. One more minor thing that annoyed me were the plants, because once you notice they keep staring at you it can't be unseen. Because they are 2d and thus have no sides it makes sense that they did it this way but it still feels a bit awkward. In conclusion I'd say that this is a pretty good story but I don't think it should be placed in the game category. If it wasn't marked as a game I would definitely have rated it with an 8 or more. But if I had to recommend a storytelling game that actually feels like your part of the story I would pick either Amnesia, Penumbra or Bastion these are all completely different game as well from each other as from Dear Esther but the thing they all have in common is that they are all heavily based on their story however my examples are far more interactive. Expand
  2. Dec 10, 2014
    7
    Dear Esther is an interesting experience, although I'm hesitant to say it was good.The writing is obnoxious and sometimes cryptic, and it just comes off as pretentious. The story behind it is actually fairly good, however. The best part of this game for me was the gorgeous environments. The caves in particular were stunning. That being said, they basically have to be to balance out theDear Esther is an interesting experience, although I'm hesitant to say it was good.The writing is obnoxious and sometimes cryptic, and it just comes off as pretentious. The story behind it is actually fairly good, however. The best part of this game for me was the gorgeous environments. The caves in particular were stunning. That being said, they basically have to be to balance out the actual amount of time it takes to beat, which is about an hour. Overall this game was interesting, and it was worth the $2 I spent on it. $10 is just insane for this game. I would recommend this to anyone who likes art for its own sake, because that's really all I can consider this game to be. Just make sure you get it on sale. Expand
  3. Feb 1, 2015
    7
    Whether Dear Esther is a game or not is irrelevant, however the experience I derived from it is difficult to evaluate. I didn't regret the purchase, but I'm reluctant to call the 'game' enjoyable. If anything, it felt more like a spiritual journey in a sense; a journey that sometimes overextended itself in the more bland and empty sections of the game. This is primarily due to the lack ofWhether Dear Esther is a game or not is irrelevant, however the experience I derived from it is difficult to evaluate. I didn't regret the purchase, but I'm reluctant to call the 'game' enjoyable. If anything, it felt more like a spiritual journey in a sense; a journey that sometimes overextended itself in the more bland and empty sections of the game. This is primarily due to the lack of gameplay mechanics, so Dear Esther must rely heavily on the following three things - story, visuals and sound.

    Of those three, the visuals and sound are of great quality, imbuing a satisfying sense of tranquility, which sometimes shifted to a more haunting tone. The caves section in particular demonstrated excellent use of colour and was probably the only chapter in which I was fully engaged due to the constant change in the rock formations and scenery. Unfortunately, pretty rocks and water can only get you so far. It's ultimately up to the game's narrative that determines whether Dear Esther offers something more meaningful, and while it did, the delivery had more than a few flaws.

    Dear Esther's story relies heavily on the player's ability to interpret symbols and metaphors. It's like high school English class all over again, like analyzing a text but in digital form. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but the dialogue is in my opinion far too convoluted and too full of purple prose for this interpretation to be done in an accessible manner. The fact that dialogue is randomly generated in this game also means that the player's interpretation is incomplete, they're not getting the full picture regardless of whether they explore the map or not. I think it's also unrealistic for a player to fully analyze and understand a paragraph of text that is read out with no more than 20 seconds of screen time and then never to be seen or heard of again, especially with the kind of writing that's presented in this game.

    Most players will end up floundering in confusion, and I suspect that for most of those who've played Dear Esther, the main reason they understood the story is because they read a wikipedia entry on the plot after they finished the game. That's what I did too, and when I consulted other wikis and read other people's interpretations, it was only then that things started to really make sense. Upon playing the game again, it was only then that I understood the various obscure references that formed the story. There's power in simplicity, and I feel that the Chinese Room made their writing too complex for the sake of sounding poetic. In the end, it becomes something that detracts from a potentially unique and unforgettable experience.

    Overall rating: 6.9/10
    Expand
  4. Mar 14, 2013
    7
    I got it for like 2 bucks and for that its an interesting experience. Worth more than the 2 coke cans I might have bought otherwise. I think I beat it in two hours and never picked it up again, but that's longer than the coke cans would have lasted.
  5. Mar 14, 2012
    6
    Dear Esther is a somewhat beautiful, somewhat tepid mixture of "doomed romance" and Ballardian psychology. That is, the island appears to be a representation of masculine Inner Space, haunted by loverghosts and cryptic prose. Cool. But the developers never push the human element or the weirdness far enough, leaving us with a lavishly detailed but paradoxically empty experience.
  6. Jul 28, 2012
    7
    This...story has surely some good points, but also some bad ones. I said "thing" because I can't really talk about game because it has almost no game elements in it except, maybe, for the menus, but I can see why people are both discouraged and impressed by this: the first thing that actually disappointed me is that the story itself is very slow and sometimes very confusing...but that isThis...story has surely some good points, but also some bad ones. I said "thing" because I can't really talk about game because it has almost no game elements in it except, maybe, for the menus, but I can see why people are both discouraged and impressed by this: the first thing that actually disappointed me is that the story itself is very slow and sometimes very confusing...but that is actually one of the main points of the story, and at each playthrough the lines change among them, making the story more or less clear; however I can see people having issues with the story and even I had some issues to understand, at least in the beginning. Also, the fact that there is no exploration can be a little frustrating, because there's isn't much else to see and, unfortunely, you can't even run. Another flaw maybe is the length: it lasts only 1-2 hours tops and I can see why people are discouraged to pay (not a lot at least), for a game that don't even last like a movie. But with that said, this story is actually a good one, even if it's confusing: even if the lines and the descriptions takes a little to understand, once you get it you see that it's extremely touching and very deep, because it's basically a travel in the mind of a man and his thoughts about things around him and his past, and all of this has a reasonable but also a more confusing ending, after you have seen all of the places... and about these places, I must say this: even though I'm not a graphic lover, the scenery in this game are simply beautiful. I honestly never seen such beautiful scenery put in games: it looked like I was in a real place! And even though graphics alone are never worth the price in ANY game, this game showed that graphics can create a great scenery and beautiful places, and not only make a game more realistic. I can't say to give it a try mainly because, as I said, it's short and there is almost no gaming elements, but if you are interested in something different, in a different story, and in a different yet beautiful scenery, this is a ticket for a graphical museum that will accompany you together with a good, but also confusing, story. Expand
  7. Aug 19, 2012
    7
    Dear Esther was an unusual hate-love experience for me. For the first 45 minutes you will feel like a sucker duped into paying for nothing more than a tech demo. You will be walking around in a snail paced first person camera, unable to interact with even the most basic of objects, such as books or papers strewn about in a room. It would have been nice to be able to pick them up and readDear Esther was an unusual hate-love experience for me. For the first 45 minutes you will feel like a sucker duped into paying for nothing more than a tech demo. You will be walking around in a snail paced first person camera, unable to interact with even the most basic of objects, such as books or papers strewn about in a room. It would have been nice to be able to pick them up and read them as is common in adventure games, but apparently that was asking too much. In fact, the only controls in this title are move forward, back, left, right, and swim up (which is used sparingly if at all). Your purpose is to wander - wander aimlessly hoping beyond hope that you will stumble upon the imaginary trip wires placed around the world that trigger the narrator and bring some purpose to this dull experience. And I say dull not because of the pacing, or the lack of interactivity, or a graphically hideous engine (as in fact its quite beautiful when maxed out), but rather the lack of imagination that went into the world as the island is nothing but the same bland repeating rock, ground, and grass textures over and over. As for your lone companion, the narrator (whose voice is exceptionally well done), he rambles incoherently. Its as if he walked into a book store, picked up a random book, flipped through the pages, and just started reading obscure passages out loud. The whole experience is a disjointed mess. Oh and it got worse; the island which at first felt like a sandbox you could freely wander in is soon to be revealed as being a closed one-way track. When it does fork you are quickly led to a dead-end, with no narration, no purpose, only a few rocks that a newborn toddler could conquer, but yet you somehow are unable to step over. All that is left is to backtrack - backtrack with a slow moving camera only adding to the frustration. Troubles continued. As I approached the first interesting thing in this game, a half sunken ship submerged in shallow water, I like any normal person had the urge to swim to it. Well, I drowned in about 4 feet of water, "come back..." the narrator says, as I am transported back to land and free to continue on. Only I wasn't. I could look around, but I could not move. Nothing is blocking my way I'm just stuck. So this thing is bugged too? . In a blood boiling move I had no choice but to restart from the beginning and re-walk the whole bleh experience up to this point (interestingly however was the fact that some of the narration had changed). So, if you do decide to try Dear Esther do yourself a favour and quick-save before jumping off any cliffs or swimming in any water. I might have fallen victim to a rare bug, but no point in risking it yourself. Anyways, out of sheer stubbornness, I continued on from the start, mere inches away from bursting out in profanities condemning Dear Esther to the 9th levels of Hell. But, see... this is where the hate ends and the love begins. For the cave - the blue cave is where Dear Esther grabbed me and didn't let go. From here till the end I was captivated by the world. Long gone is the bland island and instead is a wondrous cave of waterfalls, streams, smoke-effects, creative lighting, and emotion inspiring environments ranging from psychosis to tranquillity. This was the experience I was hoping for when I bought Dear Esther. The story comes together, the narrator's incoherent ramblings start to actually make sense, and your purpose takes shape (which of course I won't spoil). I still don't know whether Dear Esther can be categorized as a game - and having only lasted 85 minutes in length (including my restart) I'm not sure its really worth the $9.99 price tag being sold for. However, if you wait and buy it on a Steam sale like I did for 75% off its hard to argue its not worth $2.50. Despite the slow starter it did come on strong and its unusual epistolary style of story telling will leave just enough holes to give you plenty to think about even after Dear Esther is long over. Expand
  8. Feb 27, 2013
    5
    wow. I bought this game from steam for $2.50-what a waste! I understand what the game was trying to do, and I understand the information is not spoon fed to you. But after extensive time digging through the internet to understand the story, it was still not worth it.
  9. Mar 3, 2012
    6
    I respect the artistic merits of this 'game.' I do. But let's be honest, this is slightly interactive fiction. It's an amusement park ride, albeit a tepid one. I recognize I am not the target user of this game, and that's fine.
  10. Oct 20, 2012
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. It's hard for me to explain how I feel about Dear Esther. It is so beautiful and well done. I absolutely adore the concept of this game. I'm usually a big fan of less interaction to focus on the narrative. I even think the story is great, and combined with the scenery, the game is pretty haunting and emotional. The problem is that the story is so vague, it almost makes no sense at all. All I'm really sure of is that a woman named Esther died in a car accident. It is implied that maybe the narrator is her husband. It is implied that he was the drunk driver. Was he the drunk driver and her husband and they were in the same car? He makes it sound at one point as if Jackobson and such are brands of liquor he had been drinking, and he also refers to these names (one of which is Esther's last) as actual people. I understand that the point is to be vague, but how far can you go towards vague before you stop making sense at all and start being overly frustrating? I could very well just be too stupid to understand symbolism in words, but I think they could have made the narrative a little more coherent. Had they done that, I'd be happy with the gameplay just the way it is. However, since the story doesn't make a lot of sense, you're left with walking around an Island (a *beautiful* island, so it is hard to complain) and bits of story that at some points seem to contradict each other. I was left wishing I could care, but not knowing/understanding enough to do so. Too much symbolism and not enough fact make it impossible for me to have a real emotional response. My experience is my own and you may feel differently. It's a beautiful word of art and I recommend it on that alone. If you get something out of the narrative, then even better. Expand
  11. Apr 1, 2012
    7
    Stunning visuals, but not interactive. The only controls the player has access to are movement, and looking closer at things. I really would not consider this a game, so much as a visual narrative. That being said, I enjoyed the play-through and piecing together the bits that Dear Esther gives the user. It does a good job of making the player feel desolate through environment and qualityStunning visuals, but not interactive. The only controls the player has access to are movement, and looking closer at things. I really would not consider this a game, so much as a visual narrative. That being said, I enjoyed the play-through and piecing together the bits that Dear Esther gives the user. It does a good job of making the player feel desolate through environment and quality sound effects. If you are brand new to Dear Esther it's a nice change of pace from normal games, but if you've played the original source mod, I would not spend the $10 on it. Expand
  12. May 18, 2012
    6
    This game is boring. That's it. It is fun though, the music, athmosphere and graphics are just awesome, but the only thing you do is: walk. walk. walk. And walk. I thought the game would be something like Myst, but i was disappointed, and ended with a black screen, after playing 2 hours. If i had had _some_ challenge, like discovering a giant secret story, or having atThis game is boring. That's it. It is fun though, the music, athmosphere and graphics are just awesome, but the only thing you do is: walk. walk. walk. And walk. I thought the game would be something like Myst, but i was disappointed, and ended with a black screen, after playing 2 hours. If i had had _some_ challenge, like discovering a giant secret story, or having at least some interactive elements, the game would be MUCH better. Expand
  13. Feb 15, 2012
    5
    Poetic to say the least. Don't buy it if you don't like story driven games. In fact, I'm not sure I would even call this a game. It's definitely art though. Beautiful for a source game. Pretty music. Makes you think for a little bit. The reason I gave it a 5 is because it left me extremely empty after I completed it. While I understand the story, there is no real resolution. Oh, spoilersPoetic to say the least. Don't buy it if you don't like story driven games. In fact, I'm not sure I would even call this a game. It's definitely art though. Beautiful for a source game. Pretty music. Makes you think for a little bit. The reason I gave it a 5 is because it left me extremely empty after I completed it. While I understand the story, there is no real resolution. Oh, spoilers or whatever. All in all I felt like this was strictly eye candy with a story. Nothing more, nothing less. I don't necessarily regret spending money on it.... but you know.. RESOLUTION NEXT TIME? Expand
  14. Jul 16, 2012
    7
    Dear Esther is not a game, so it should not be reviewed as a game. It uses a game graphics engine, and game controls, but games require at least a basic level of skill or interaction, and Dear Esther requires nothing more than movement (as do 'maze' games, but they require skill).
    What you do have is graphics, a story, music and atmosphere; things which most modern games require and are
    Dear Esther is not a game, so it should not be reviewed as a game. It uses a game graphics engine, and game controls, but games require at least a basic level of skill or interaction, and Dear Esther requires nothing more than movement (as do 'maze' games, but they require skill).
    What you do have is graphics, a story, music and atmosphere; things which most modern games require and are critiqued upon in games reviews, so it's these things that should be evaluated. Dear Esther excels in all of these areas, putting most games which try to be 'atmospheric' to shame.
    The problem is, because it looks and feels like a game, you want to do game things, at the very least, jump, crouch, open doors and pick things up. Once you get over this lack of freedom and settle into the narrative you start to enjoy the experience a little bit more.
    It should probably come with a 'this is not a game' sticker, but if you keep an open mind, and offer Dear Esther your time and patience, you'll enjoy a visually enchanting, and occasionally creepy story.
    I would still have liked the ability to jump and crouch!
    Expand
  15. Oct 1, 2012
    5
    While the island you visit is pretty, you
  16. Nov 15, 2012
    6
    Not really a game but a very unique experience in a great environment. Only get out of it what you put it. Not really worth the full price however but makes you think about what a game really is.
  17. Mar 2, 2012
    5
    Art = 10/10
    Game = 0/10
    Overall = 5/10
    It's really really nice, but it's also really rally booooring! I almost slept when I was 'playing' this 'game'...
  18. Dec 23, 2012
    6
    Dear Esther has a deep atmosphere and unique poetic narrative. The visuals and sound are great, especially for a low budget title, and the environment is as detailed as it is fun to explore. It's only an hour long and gameplay consists of walking forward and looking around, though Dear Esther is obviously meant to be more of an interactive story than an actual video game. It's biggestDear Esther has a deep atmosphere and unique poetic narrative. The visuals and sound are great, especially for a low budget title, and the environment is as detailed as it is fun to explore. It's only an hour long and gameplay consists of walking forward and looking around, though Dear Esther is obviously meant to be more of an interactive story than an actual video game. It's biggest appeal would be the location of the game itself. The Island feels so lifelike and genuine, It'd probably be an awesome place to visit in real life. I guess it just has a magically feel to it, I don't know. My biggest criticism would be it's price. I couldn't recommend this at full price, but Dear Esther was a nice experience all the same. Expand
  19. Feb 17, 2012
    7
    An incredibly beautiful 'game'. The art style and aesthetics are, perhaps, the best that I've seen so far. Dear Esther really manage to capture the subtleties of nature in their graphical style. Are rare feet indeed.

    Combine that with a fantastic voice acting and music, and you've got a emotionally moving story, which brilliance is that it doesn't tell you much. That is the very genius of
    An incredibly beautiful 'game'. The art style and aesthetics are, perhaps, the best that I've seen so far. Dear Esther really manage to capture the subtleties of nature in their graphical style. Are rare feet indeed.

    Combine that with a fantastic voice acting and music, and you've got a emotionally moving story, which brilliance is that it doesn't tell you much. That is the very genius of this game.

    A word of warning though. This is not your ordinary game, there is no interaction other than controlling the camera and movement. There are no objectives and nothing of the sort. It's a story.
    Expand
  20. Feb 20, 2012
    7
    It is very hard to review this. In reality. It is not a game but more like a short story told through a game engine. I dont regret buying it as it was an interest hour diversion.
  21. Aug 31, 2014
    5
    This may or may not even be a video game. If The Stanley Parable had a retarded brother, this would be his incestuous and disfigured offspring. SCORE: 5/10

    You walk around in a mostly linear path while a story is narrated to you. The story itself is rather disjointed and incomplete, just like the game. The visuals are great, kind of like a tech demo. The story is weak. The gameplay is
    This may or may not even be a video game. If The Stanley Parable had a retarded brother, this would be his incestuous and disfigured offspring. SCORE: 5/10

    You walk around in a mostly linear path while a story is narrated to you. The story itself is rather disjointed and incomplete, just like the game. The visuals are great, kind of like a tech demo. The story is weak. The gameplay is nonexistent.

    It is worth about one dollar. Anything more than that is a complete waste.
    Expand
  22. Feb 21, 2012
    6
    Dear Esther marked the beginning of a new genre in games. Half - interactive trip with meditation elements. Example of how far can a fantasy authors who do not need to look at the gameplay. I think this is a qualitatively new stage in the establishment of games as art.
  23. Dec 4, 2012
    7
    This is worth playing/experiencing. When I first heard of the game I was interested, but I had heard mixed reviews so I waited for a Steam sale but am very glad I bought it and played through. Even after playing I kept thinking about the game and piecing together what it all meant. (I've heard the story pieces you see change with different playings - so I'll do it again after a while).This is worth playing/experiencing. When I first heard of the game I was interested, but I had heard mixed reviews so I waited for a Steam sale but am very glad I bought it and played through. Even after playing I kept thinking about the game and piecing together what it all meant. (I've heard the story pieces you see change with different playings - so I'll do it again after a while). It's short - I didn't keep time but probably 3 hours or so max(?) - and I took my time looking around, trying to get into places I couldn't get to, etc. Some of the visuals - especially in the cave were - were very memorable. It's a game that has a melancholy mood - but for some reason it didn't get me down. For me, even though it's short, the length of the game was about right. As you're playing through pay attention to the little details - they really do help you piece together what's going on if you pay attention.

    Bottom line on this one: Good game. Glad I played it.
    Expand
  24. Sep 11, 2013
    6
    First of all, Dear Esther is not a game. It is a narrated story developed through the Source Engine. There is nothing to do apart from walking till the last map, and listening to the words of the narrator.

    There is not any kind of interaction with the game world. The world is a beautiful painting that you can watch but not touch. The story is slow and quite boring, and want to be too
    First of all, Dear Esther is not a game. It is a narrated story developed through the Source Engine. There is nothing to do apart from walking till the last map, and listening to the words of the narrator.

    There is not any kind of interaction with the game world. The world is a beautiful painting that you can watch but not touch. The story is slow and quite boring, and want to be too pretentious.

    Dear Esther has nothing to offer apart from a great artistic and graphic style. It's all about level design, nothing more.
    Expand
  25. May 30, 2013
    5
    This is visually very beautiful no doubt, but it is not a game and should not be advertised as such. This title was clearly made by artists and they did a very good job, the environment is stunning but it feels like a tease since you cannot interact with anything. If at least they would have integrated some puzzle elements to make it more interesting. The only thing the player can do isThis is visually very beautiful no doubt, but it is not a game and should not be advertised as such. This title was clearly made by artists and they did a very good job, the environment is stunning but it feels like a tease since you cannot interact with anything. If at least they would have integrated some puzzle elements to make it more interesting. The only thing the player can do is look around and walk, even running is not possible which can be quite frustrating when you reach a dead-end and have to go back a long way. The emphasis is solely on the visuals and even then I caught a few textures that did not look good from close up. If your going to make a title that showcases graphics, you cannot allow blurry textures to make it in your final product. The purpose of the narrator is clearly to break the monotony but the story he tells did not even intrigue me the least. Again, this is visually very nice and immersing but it cannot be called a game. There should be a specific genre category for "games" like this, putting it the "adventure" genre on Steam is misleading. This is an experience that a lot people can enjoy but I would advise to wait for a special on Steam before buying, 10$ is too expensive. Expand
  26. Mar 11, 2013
    7
    As a 1 hour long "game", it's hard to recommend it at any price, even at a steam sale. You might aswell just watch a playthrough on youtube and you'll get a identical experience (since the only thing you can do is walk... slowly). That being said, i kind of enjoyed it, music and graphics were on a really high level (except 2d sprites of foliage). It's definitely unusual, but as i said,As a 1 hour long "game", it's hard to recommend it at any price, even at a steam sale. You might aswell just watch a playthrough on youtube and you'll get a identical experience (since the only thing you can do is walk... slowly). That being said, i kind of enjoyed it, music and graphics were on a really high level (except 2d sprites of foliage). It's definitely unusual, but as i said, it's hard to recommend. Expand
  27. Feb 18, 2017
    7
    Game: Dear Esther
    Genre: Adventure
    Publisher/Developer: The Chinese Room System: Steam (PC) Total Score: 67/100 Value Score: 6.7/10 • Story: 7/10 • Characters: 5/10 • GamePlay: 6/10 • Graphics: 9/10 • Sound: 10/10 • Music: 8/10 • Length: 2/10 • Replay Value: 3/10 • Player Value: 7/10 Pros +Amazing atmosphere and environment design +Great OST that goes well with the
    Game: Dear Esther
    Genre: Adventure
    Publisher/Developer: The Chinese Room
    System: Steam (PC)
    Total Score: 67/100
    Value Score: 6.7/10

    • Story: 7/10
    • Characters: 5/10
    • GamePlay: 6/10
    • Graphics: 9/10
    • Sound: 10/10
    • Music: 8/10
    • Length: 2/10
    • Replay Value: 3/10
    • Player Value: 7/10

    Pros
    +Amazing atmosphere and environment design
    +Great OST that goes well with the atmosphere of the game
    +Great narration and Voice acting

    Cons
    -Very Short
    -Barely any replay value
    -When changing options for graphics, the preview does not work
    -No credits are shown at ending
    -Very simple gameplay
    -No characters shown
    Expand
  28. Dec 28, 2013
    6
    I seriously wish I could give Dear Esther a better score, but the only thing it has going for it is it's over-the-top beautiful graphics. This game is basically a demonstration of the developer's 3D modelling skill, and being a 3D modelling student I loved every second of this game. I didn't care that it didn't have a story, and I didn't care that it really wasn't even a game, more of aI seriously wish I could give Dear Esther a better score, but the only thing it has going for it is it's over-the-top beautiful graphics. This game is basically a demonstration of the developer's 3D modelling skill, and being a 3D modelling student I loved every second of this game. I didn't care that it didn't have a story, and I didn't care that it really wasn't even a game, more of a slideshow. But to be fair to others, I feel obliged to say that if you want an actual game, then I guess you're looking in the wrong place. I feel bad saying that but literally the only thing this game has going for it is good graphics. The story is boring, the voice acting is even below par, and there's literally no interaction with your surroundings throughout the entire 40 minutes the walk lasts. Yes, the game is basically a Sunday stroll. But I got this for a dollar, and the graphics are unbelievably amazing, the composition of each scene is so well thought out, and there is SO much attention to detail it's breathtaking. Too bad thechineseroom didn't do anything more creative with this. It's definitely a masterpiece, but in the art definition of the term, not when referring to the overall game. Only get this "game" if it's on sale, and you just want to see some awesome graphics and beautiful scenes, and NOTHING more. Expand
  29. Jun 2, 2013
    6
    Dear Esther is an interactive adventure that stands on the edge of what can be considered a "game". The entire experience consists of walking around an island, exploring it, and hearing pieces of a story from the narrator.

    This is absolutely a game for explorers. Much of the appeal of this game is simply taking in the beautiful landscapes and letting your curiosity. This game is
    Dear Esther is an interactive adventure that stands on the edge of what can be considered a "game". The entire experience consists of walking around an island, exploring it, and hearing pieces of a story from the narrator.

    This is absolutely a game for explorers. Much of the appeal of this game is simply taking in the beautiful landscapes and letting your curiosity. This game is incredibly, ridiculously slow. You can only move at a slow walking pace, and for me, the amount of time it took me to get anywhere ended up discouraging me from trying to do much more exploration than what was needed. The music is nice, and it's appropriate for a lonely island.

    There's a lot to discover with the story, and Dear Esther intentionally leaves many questions unanswered. Personally, I found the story to be too boring to care about, so I had little interest in teasing out the game's many mysteries.

    This game is absolutely not for everyone. It's an interesting think to think about and discuss, but there's little fun to be had with the game itself. The people who enjoy this game will love it passionately, though. If you would enjoy a super-slow, thoughtful experience, then maybe you'll like this. Then again, I normally do, and I feel ambivalent about this game. Don't buy Dear Esther unless it's cheap.
    Expand
  30. Dec 10, 2015
    5
    -snip-
    ...............................................................................................................................................
  31. Jan 27, 2015
    7
    To call Dear Esther a game is pretty misleading. There is essentially no gameplay- no puzzles, interaction, fighting, etc. All you do is walk. It is also over in about 2 hours if you look at everything. So it fails as a game. A better classification for this would simply be to call it an art piece. The visuals are absolutely gorgeous, and the music and sound effects compliment theTo call Dear Esther a game is pretty misleading. There is essentially no gameplay- no puzzles, interaction, fighting, etc. All you do is walk. It is also over in about 2 hours if you look at everything. So it fails as a game. A better classification for this would simply be to call it an art piece. The visuals are absolutely gorgeous, and the music and sound effects compliment the melancholy nature of the visuals. If viewed purely as an art piece, as I think it should, Dear Esther is totally worth it. But if you want game play, look elsewhere. Expand
  32. Feb 14, 2016
    7
    It certainly lives up to its reputation of being a walking simulator that is short but memorable. This game reminds me of those times when I just walked and kept on thinking about things and the could-have-beens in life. It's certainly not for everyone, especially if all you want is action, but for those who enjoy quiet time and plain enjoying the sights, you might find this one interesting.
  33. Jun 19, 2013
    7
    Dear Esther is an amazing video/game which has to be explored and understood in order to like it.
    It features a pure realistic and fantastic world with unbelievable graphics and performances, all combined with a great plot. It is a very short game, but really exciting, which can give you a lot of feelings.
    -Technique- Dear Esther featuers the best graphics that have ever been in
    Dear Esther is an amazing video/game which has to be explored and understood in order to like it.
    It features a pure realistic and fantastic world with unbelievable graphics and performances, all combined with a great plot. It is a very short game, but really exciting, which can give you a lot of feelings.

    -Technique-

    Dear Esther featuers the best graphics that have ever been in videogames of these last years; they're very clear and very advanced, as well as very clever (there are some "sprites" that are even featured in old games like the first Tomb Raider, but they're put so well in the environment that they look like 3D objects which even make animations when you walk near them, but actually are always in the same position, they just "turn" in your looking direction, which makes great graphics and very high framerate savings). All this must be mixed with, thanks to Source Engine and some great tweaks, a very good/excellent performance, which is really amazing. Light effects and textures are really impressive in this game.

    -Plot and sounds-

    What makes Dear Esther so great is also the plot, which is really intriguing and deep. It seems to contain a lot of metaphors, and what actually happens is relative to player's interpretation. Now, combine all this with some great soundtracks and really creepy sounds, which will make of Dear Esther an excellent video adventure, which will bring you into its finest, melancholic and deepest experience.

    -Longevity and gameplay-

    Unfortunately, the game lasts for a very short time, because you can complete it in no more than two hours (even exaggerating; actually, you can complete it in a hour). Basically, all you do is explore an island and follow some monologues.

    Technique: 8- [7.75]:
    ▪Graphics: 8;
    ▪Performance: 7½ [7.5];
    Gameplay: 7½;
    Plot: 7½;
    Longevity: 3;
    Sound: 8;

    Videogame avg. scores: 7- [6.75];
    OVERALL VIDEOGAME SCORE: 7.
    Expand
  34. Jul 20, 2013
    7
    This is an experience, not a game. There is no interaction, no clicking, no shooting, no anything. This doesn't make Dear Esther bad, it's just important to know beforehand that all you're required to do is walk around, enjoy the beautiful graphics music, listen to the narrator, and try to sort out what's going on. Anyone who enjoys thinking for themselves and having to draw their ownThis is an experience, not a game. There is no interaction, no clicking, no shooting, no anything. This doesn't make Dear Esther bad, it's just important to know beforehand that all you're required to do is walk around, enjoy the beautiful graphics music, listen to the narrator, and try to sort out what's going on. Anyone who enjoys thinking for themselves and having to draw their own conclusions will really enjoy this. Expand
  35. Oct 24, 2014
    7
    Provided that you are willing to be flexible about the definition of a game, this is an experience which I recommend to anyone who enjoys anything thought provoking. There are certain aspects of the story which are clearly laid out, but the vast majority of the narrative can be vague, relying heavily on the interpretation of the individual. Initially I hadn't realised that the snippets ofProvided that you are willing to be flexible about the definition of a game, this is an experience which I recommend to anyone who enjoys anything thought provoking. There are certain aspects of the story which are clearly laid out, but the vast majority of the narrative can be vague, relying heavily on the interpretation of the individual. Initially I hadn't realised that the snippets of narrative are actually randomised, so the game can be played through multiple times with different results. If you have a lot of experience in role-playing games, you might be used to checking the corner of every room and going down every path - on the off-chance that there's something special there. I recommend that you don't do that in Dear Esther. I went down every little path, explored the corners of every room and I am none the wiser. Apart from a few scribbles on walls here and there, don't expect to find some Easter Egg or a special note. Expand
  36. Apr 13, 2013
    5
    Not a game, but I would call it art. It kind of has a museum element going. You can look at all the pretty pictures and areas, listen to some "tour guide" talk but don't touch anything or you might break it.
    I frequently ask this question of the people who have "played" it. If you watched a playthrough video, what would be different? You might walk to some area in a different order...but
    Not a game, but I would call it art. It kind of has a museum element going. You can look at all the pretty pictures and areas, listen to some "tour guide" talk but don't touch anything or you might break it.
    I frequently ask this question of the people who have "played" it. If you watched a playthrough video, what would be different? You might walk to some area in a different order...but ultimately, it really is more like a video "museum" and less of a video game.
    Expand
  37. sft
    Mar 13, 2016
    7
    Windswept, wistful wanderings

    Enough has been said already in the debate as to whether or not DEAR ESTHER is a game, and for the sake of this review I shall refer to it simply as an experience. What it is, in effect, is a short story set against a 3D visual backdrop. And it is short – a play-through should last 60–90 minutes. (Whether it represents value for money or not will depend on
    Windswept, wistful wanderings

    Enough has been said already in the debate as to whether or not DEAR ESTHER is a game, and for the sake of this review I shall refer to it simply as an experience. What it is, in effect, is a short story set against a 3D visual backdrop. And it is short – a play-through should last 60–90 minutes. (Whether it represents value for money or not will depend on your response to the experience and whether or not you feel inclined to play it more than once.) So what’s good about it? Well, it’s a remarkable showcase for the humble Source Engine. The Chinese Room have squeezed Valve’s software hard to produce a starkly beautiful environment. The Hebridean island which serves as backdrop to the story is the strongest character in the experience, and it’s the haunting atmosphere created by this landscape that drives the emotional content of the experience. So what’s not so good about it? Well frankly the writing is poor. The monologue, although delivered with skill by the voice actor, is self-consciously florid. At times the prose is so excruciatingly purple as to lesson the emotional impact. In the hands of a more restrained writer Dear Esther could have been even more engaging. It’s still moving, and memorable, but this partial success is achieved almost entirely through the visual content. Despite this, however, I recommend Dear Esther, if only because it’s a fine example of how diverse the medium can be.
    Expand
  38. Apr 19, 2014
    7
    Well, I finished the game and had a rough idea of what was happenning. I felt like I missed something and was curious so I read some guides, watched videos, etc. I must say I missed a lot what this game offers. At the same time it's impossible to see most of it on the first playthrough. It's quite nice when it comes to storytelling and exploration, but myself I haven't found a taste norWell, I finished the game and had a rough idea of what was happenning. I felt like I missed something and was curious so I read some guides, watched videos, etc. I must say I missed a lot what this game offers. At the same time it's impossible to see most of it on the first playthrough. It's quite nice when it comes to storytelling and exploration, but myself I haven't found a taste nor will to play it again. Maybe I will another day.
    If you are patient and looking for a nice chill adventure with beautiful music and scenery and mystery story, go and play it - the first playthrough is definitely worth it and will leave you somewhat sentimental.
    Expand
  39. Aug 23, 2013
    7
    I am writing this review right after finishing Gone Home (once) and Dear Esther (three times) in a row.

    Where Gone Home is a grounded, no-possible-personal-interpretation story (check my review if you're interested), Dear Esther is the total opposite. Dear Esther is beautiful, eerie, haunting and thought provoking. It takes a more "Lynch-ian" approach of the interactive story genre.
    I am writing this review right after finishing Gone Home (once) and Dear Esther (three times) in a row.

    Where Gone Home is a grounded, no-possible-personal-interpretation story (check my review if you're interested), Dear Esther is the total opposite.

    Dear Esther is beautiful, eerie, haunting and thought provoking. It takes a more "Lynch-ian" approach of the interactive story genre. It stuns you with it's visuals, and bashes your skull with a hammer when you reach the end and start to put the puzzle pieces together.

    However... This is clearly not a game for everyone. Dear Esther is the kind of experience that an average gamer would enjoy only when in the right mood.

    It is extremely hard to give a score to a "game" like that. I gave it a 7/10... I think it's pretty generous, and at the same time, I really want to give it a 10/10, because everything in this game is mesmerizing and the island itself will make you feel like you are truly witnessing something special and magical.

    If you are looking for something different, slower paced, open to interpretation, fresh, and far from the AAA crowd, this is definitely a game for you.

    As for me, I know that Dear Esther's unique story and visuals will stay engraved in my memory for a long time.
    Expand
  40. Nov 1, 2013
    5
    I want to give this game A 0/10 but i didnt want people to be confused into thinking that it crappy game. its actually much worst or quite the opposite. This "thing" (i cant call it a game it goes against my morals and standards) doesnt have sufficient enough GAMEPLAY to be called a game. All you do is walk around and listen to the character/narrators dialogue; oh and you get a flashlightI want to give this game A 0/10 but i didnt want people to be confused into thinking that it crappy game. its actually much worst or quite the opposite. This "thing" (i cant call it a game it goes against my morals and standards) doesnt have sufficient enough GAMEPLAY to be called a game. All you do is walk around and listen to the character/narrators dialogue; oh and you get a flashlight to. Now dont get me wrong its still a very pleasant experience if you can be accepting that kind of thing. but all in all it gets a 0/10 as a game and 9/10 as a "Artistic experience" (yes it was difficult for me to type that) Expand
  41. Oct 17, 2013
    6
    All I can say is this is a very interesting game. It requires a lot of existential thought. Though I can hardly call it a game. It is simply an interactive story. There is really no challenges in the game. Simply walk and look.
  42. Oct 24, 2013
    5
    This game is beautifully done, and I spent a lot of time exploring. Unfortunately, it didn't make me want to play it again, and so I feel it's true value was lost. Perhaps because I spent a lot of time looking through every nook and cranny, trying to interpret the strange diagrams, I became extremely discouraged when the ending was what it was.
  43. Jun 2, 2014
    7
    Dear Esther? it is an interesting one and very unique, however it's not a game, but, in all fairness, it's not supposed to be and this is surprisingly not a bad thing.

    - Intuitive interactive storytelling. This is the first storytelling attempt in gaming and it does this quite well using a large ad expansive map to explore that is loosely associated to the actual story which is
    Dear Esther? it is an interesting one and very unique, however it's not a game, but, in all fairness, it's not supposed to be and this is surprisingly not a bad thing.

    - Intuitive interactive storytelling.
    This is the first storytelling attempt in gaming and it does this quite well using a large ad expansive map to explore that is loosely associated to the actual story which is narrated as you discover new areas and progress through the dark and gloomy island. One thing I noticed with this 'game' was that you genuinely do feel alone and weirdly cold too thanks to the clever atmosphere. Despite this, I sometimes kept questioning what was actually going on as it never really uncovers who Esther is, even though she is the main character (sort of). Similarly, there is no clue to who you control throughout the game and it is never clear if it is supposed to be the narrator or simply just yourself and this makes it feel confusing.

    - Surprisingly impressive graphics (for an unproven development team)
    The grey, gloomy skies combined with the large sprawling meadows and sharp chalky cliffs make the game feel calm but slightly threatening which I think really suits the games story type.

    - Not much replayablity
    The fact that the story is dead and buried before a dramatic cut scene or shocking reveal kind of contradicts the point of a story and leaves the player/reader/listener to feel underwhelmed and slightly disappointed.

    Graphics: 7.5/10
    The graphics themselves are great but they don't really suit the story line and causes confusion.

    Creativity: 10/10
    A completely new outlook to interactive storytelling, it is the first of its kind and has secured a foothold for possible future games.

    New User Friendly: 10/10
    Very simple controls and very simple navigation. However this is being rather kind as this also one of the main reasons for the game being unremarkable.

    Replayability: 4/10
    Its like a book, you already know the storyline and plot ad you have to do some waiting before you can play it again in order to forget the story.

    Overall score: 7/10
    Expand
  44. Jun 10, 2014
    7
    Otra historia interactiva que no es un videojuego, pero es una experiencia narrativa significativa e interesante. Si te interesa la narratología es una pieza necesaria, en caso contrario puede defraudarte.
  45. Jan 17, 2015
    6
    It's hard to judge this as a game, as technically it isn't. It is, as IGN puts it; "a piece of interactive visual storytelling". This is due to it's lack of goals, weapons, puzzles, or basically anything you would see in a traditional game.

    Expect a "game", and you'll come out confused. But let's judge it based on what it actually aims to do... This tells the story of a shipwrecked
    It's hard to judge this as a game, as technically it isn't. It is, as IGN puts it; "a piece of interactive visual storytelling". This is due to it's lack of goals, weapons, puzzles, or basically anything you would see in a traditional game.

    Expect a "game", and you'll come out confused. But let's judge it based on what it actually aims to do...

    This tells the story of a shipwrecked castaway on an island. As you walk around, from scenic view to scenic view, the protagonist will speak in delicate yet disjointed prose. What first starts out as analogies drawn from the current landscape you're in, he will slowly reveal who this Esther is, while becoming more and more passionate in his outbursts.

    You'll walk along beaches, through luminous underground caves, and along jutting cliffs, which are all beautiful. I had to stop several times, just to take screenshots. I was basically a tourist.

    Even though there is no interactivity, after completing the game in two hours, I was quite emotionally moved. Without giving away any spoilers, the revelations in the dialogue which lead upto the powerful conclusion left me contemplating it for many days after.

    As an experience: 8/10
    As a game: 4/10
    Expand
  46. Mar 31, 2016
    6
    Мир, картинка, повествование - отлично.. Но Текст.. Это что-то.
    Незавершенные действия в прошлом (делал, думал), воображаемое будущее, аналогии (мир как яблоко) и аллегории для меня это просто вода, а не текст.
    Только одно запомнилось - сделал бумажные кораблики. И показывают эти кораблики. Тут и смыл и идея, и что-то реальное. Был хороший текст, отличная б история получилась бы, а так
    Мир, картинка, повествование - отлично.. Но Текст.. Это что-то.
    Незавершенные действия в прошлом (делал, думал), воображаемое будущее, аналогии (мир как яблоко) и аллегории для меня это просто вода, а не текст.
    Только одно запомнилось - сделал бумажные кораблики. И показывают эти кораблики. Тут и смыл и идея, и что-то реальное.
    Был хороший текст, отличная б история получилась бы, а так увы.
    Expand
  47. Oct 27, 2015
    7
    Una novela y aventura gráfica, todo en uno. Yo lo tengo gracias a un sorteo, he de decir que el precio es excesivo para lo que es el juego, pero si lo puedes conseguir, es una aunténtica maravilla.
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. 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.
  2. LEVEL (Czech Republic)
    Apr 25, 2012
    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. CD-Action
    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]