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6.5

Mixed or average reviews- based on 566 Ratings

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  1. Feb 14, 2012
    10
    To call this a game would be almost entirely inaccurate. This piece is better described as an interactive fiction narrative. The only game play mechanic in this work is to guide your character through the story. However, what makes this piece of work interesting and outstanding is the atmosphere that is created through the narrator's speech, the beautiful graphics, perfect music score, and amazing ambient sound. This is an experience that no one should pass up, my first play-through took up a little over 2 hours of my time; for $10 this is a fantastic deal. Expand
  2. Feb 14, 2012
    10
    Originally a mod for Half-Life 2, this remake is very different from what you might expect a game to be.
    Calling it an interactive story would be more accurate. There is no "action", no real items or objectives, you just explore the island while a narrator tells you a story. It is certainly not for everyone, but for people that are looking for an experience rather than a game I would
    highly recommend it. The visuals and soundtrack are breathtaking, the narrator does an excellent job, and the atmosphere in general is amazing. If you are looking for something different and have the time and patience to immerse yourself into it, this game will provide you with an unforgettable experience. Expand
  3. Feb 15, 2012
    10
    I'm not exactly sure what I just played, but it was one of the most beautiful things that I have ever experienced. Dear Esther is something of a new genre of game, all to itself. It's more of an artistic expression coupled with minor interactivity and a frighteningly poetic story. As an advocate for games as art, this is my new "exhibit A". The visuals, the weather, the sounds, the music, and the narration all came together to give me an experience that was as immerse and gratifying as the best of more hardcore genres. I am personally terrified of heights, and there were certain moments in this game that put that fear into practice for me, and most games don't do that. It was a unique journey and I know that I will play it again someday, and again after that. But I don't know when. I'll have to let it simmer in my mind for awhile. Expand
  4. Feb 18, 2012
    10
    Superb. If you are prepared for reflection, then you will be deeply moved by this masterpiece. Ignore the low ratings as they are not the intended audience. This is a work for adults.
  5. Feb 14, 2012
    9
    It would be difficult for me to call this a game in the traditional sense. It is certainly an adventure, and the fragmented, random narration really helps to expand on the very heavy themes found in Dear Esther. I certainly enjoyed it, and would definitely play through multiple times, just to get a better grasp on the big picture that the plot constantly alludes to. That said, the ending is... remarkably intense, and the last action that you take really makes you think. Not enough games are willing to take existentialism and the strangeness of the unknown into their plot, and it definitely pays off in this one. This is the kind of plot that keeps you awake at night, thinking of actions and consequences, as well as how all things must end.

    Gameplay 5/10
    Atmosphere 9/10
    Plot 10/10
    Execution 10/10

    Excellent Game
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  6. Feb 15, 2012
    10
    A real gamers game, a game that is more like interactive art and a poetic, beautiful game. Dear Esther is one of the most unique games that has been released in recent years thanks to the interesting storytelling and voice acting, top notch visuals that push the source engine to beautiful heights. Whats truly astonishing is that the developers decided to step outside the box and create a truly unique and different experience. For a measly 10 dollars, You've got to check out Dear Esther Expand
  7. Feb 14, 2012
    10
    The best about this game is how it manages to recreate an emotion that most games don't even dare to get close to: solitude and unhappiness. That, accompanied by an excellent atmosphere. Sure, there is no actual gameplay, but that is insignificant when compared to the sheer sense of sorrow that the game conveys.
  8. Feb 14, 2012
    10
    Simply amazing , the incredible atmosphere in this game is worth it's price alone , the environments are gorgeous , the ambient sounds are perfectly done , this is easily the best looking and atmospheric game i have ever played , hopefully these guys will make a bigger game with more than just exploration.
  9. ktm
    Feb 14, 2012
    10
    Dear Esther is more of a poem about the degradation of the mind, rather then a game. The story offers a engaging story of a man struggling with the death of his love, abandonment, guilt, and his ultimate degradation into insanity at the hands of an unforgiving desolate island. The story is amazing, but so is the beautiful environment. I have never seen a source game (let alone with any game) with such a stunning, visually pleasing environment. The beginning is quite beautiful, but once you hit the caves, you will be taken back by the beauty. All in all I would say this has to be one of my favorite releases in the last two years. I really hope that games like this will make their way to the spotlight.

    What, your still reading. Please go play the game. Really, you won't regret it.
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  10. May 16, 2012
    10
    First of all, game or not, this is for sell for a fantastic price. As for the mechanics of the game, there is very little to do in the way of interaction, apart from walk your character around a beautifully graphical island, and immerse yourself in the narrated story that creates an emotional effect as if you were really there. Gazing at the graphics mainly as I wandered around, I found the music to pull me deeper into the story. There are places that are truly amazing, and although some plants do have a 2D effect, they never bothered me at all.

    I would recommend this 'game/narrative story' to anyone wanting to marvel at the capabilities of the source engine a must. Not to mention the ambient sounds and musical score. For the price, it is definately worth buying.
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  11. Feb 17, 2012
    10
    Words cannot describe what I feel for this game. The bottom line is that even people who don't like games can enjoy this. Especially those who like to read a book. The game provides a beautiful environment for the player to explore and admire along with metaphorical dialogue that is read by a man who is presumably the husand of Esther. This game is a definite play and the best way to enjoy it is to forget about every other game you ever played and start anew. BUY IT! your missing out on a masterpiece. Expand
  12. Mar 28, 2012
    10
    Dear Esther was never intended to be like other productions commonly referred to as video games. So it is ridiculous to judge it according to what people think a game should be. There are no real objectives, no obstacles you have to deal with, no challenges (except intellectual ones). I would call it an interactive visual-auditory poem.
    The visuals and sounds and music are astonishing and
    create an atmosphere unlike any I've ever witnessed in a computer game. The story is intriguing; it's certainly very enigmatic and confusing, but this is exactly what makes this game so intellectually engaging. The world around you and the narration are full of complex metaphors, symbols and allusions, and you will discover new facets, new angles to view and interpret the story and the world it creates if you have the patience to play the game a second, or maybe even third time.
    Dear Esther is a successful experiment and a singular experience.
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  13. Feb 15, 2012
    10
    'Dear Esther' is a beautiful piece of art. And as such it is priceless. There is no sense in arguing about the length/price ratio. It is more like reading a short story. It want's to leave an impression and with this it succeeds. Sounds, music, and visuals are perfectly arranged around the narration. Everything feels perfectly polished. An artistic masterpiece with lasting appeal.
  14. Feb 15, 2012
    10
    This is more than a game, it is an experience. Anyone could quite easily take a screenshot of anything in a play-through of this vivid setting and frame it, because it is so wonderfully crafted. For a game developed on a comparatively old engine the setting is truly stunning and brilliantly structured - The transition between each chapter is totally seamless and adds to the depth of the game. The carefully timed and sporadic ambiance of the music really adds to the atmosphere created by this game - one of isolation, loss and borderline insanity. You feel what the character feels as you piece together the shards of their tale. Appreciate the art of this piece as it is unlike no other game released at this moment in time. Expand
  15. Feb 14, 2012
    9
    Most beautiful game I have ever played. Not so much a game as an audio-visual experience with a poetic narrative and an emotional pay-off. If you are a skeptic as to whether or not games can be art, please buy Dear Esther...
  16. Feb 15, 2012
    9
    If David Lynch would make "games" (personally, I would call this an "interactive experience" instead), they would be like this. Probably scarier but still... the story is very similar to his movies concept-wise. Well, a character introduction, which even Lynch usually has, is missing. So the chaos that only starts after a while in Lynch movies starts right at the beginning in Dear Esther. You don't know anything about the people the text is talking about as if you would already know them. But after a while, a picture begins to form. Much like with the typical Lynch chaos. You start to think you know what it's about. And you probably really do get parts of it right. But aside from personal interpretitions... from an objective point of view, it will never be complete. Unless you can put it together from multiple playthroughs. I have only one behind me so far and that is the impression I got of the story. I don't think I have to say anything about how stunningly beautiful the game is, many others have done that already. And as much I would like to join the hype, I "only" rate it 9/10 for the following reasons: Content-related: It's a shame one doesn't have some sort of "diary" where one can read texts that one has already heard. Especially because of the sophisticated language involved that will be hard to understand for people who don't read English literature regularly. It often sounds more like pieces of poetry of the 19th century than a modern novel. Plus, saving only via hotkey is really a shame. They should have at least made that quick save functionality accessible through the menu. Technically: I HATE vegetation on planes always facing the player. That was probably the thing I loved most about The Witcher 2, visually - dense vegetation that didn't rotate around. Also, they could've used more polygons on some of those rocks and the textures are occasionally really low-res. Maybe partly engine limitations. It is quite ancient... And for a game that is a lot about it's visual beauty, it is a shame that it doesn't use SLI by default and does very badly with it if you force it. I'm also not sure how easy it is to put transparency AA settings into the menu but because of all the vegetation it would have been great if people could just enable all kinds of settings there. Overall, even though there are plenty of AA settings to choose from, I still find it lacking. It was clearly not made to take advantage of the most recent graphics cards. So overall... with a modern engine taking advantage of SLI, smoother geometry, consistently hi-res textures and all the settings I've talked about available, this would've been a 10 for me. Expand
  17. Feb 14, 2012
    9
    This remake looks better than older but this is mod for half life 2.so you have to half life 2 and thats bad for someone
  18. Mar 25, 2012
    9
    The game in Dear Esther is to put the story together, to walk through the character's turmoil and feel his thoughts and memories moving through you. The beauty of Dear Esther is that part of the narrative must come from the player... impressions formed in the art, exploration of the countryside. It is up to you how much of this story you will experience, how far into the depths of its fever-dreams you will wade. Will you struggle to interpret what is scrawled upon the ground, etched into the hills, carved like lines of white chalk that alienate all help even as they cry distress? How much empathy will you feel, and for whom, and what will you make of the person whose voice comes echoing through your head, whispering to you to come back when you wander too far? How will you interpret a world which all at once gives you its narrative and yet leaves you with all the options as to what any of it means? I played Dear Esther with my partner, and I recommend doing that, because we discussed what we saw along the way, reacted to the narrator, and the experience each of us drew from the game was tinted by our own backgrounds, our own points of reference. Where I saw chemistry, she saw art, where I saw delirium, she saw verse. Together we made it something even more-- and when we've had time for the memory to fade, when the chalk lines etched across our brains have grown over and been erased, we'll walk again along that shore and perhaps take a different path, perhaps feel another way, or perhaps relive our first discovery. We will haunt that beach, now and then, and to me, that is enough, especially for the price. But, I cannot give it a perfect score when it is somewhat inaccessible and I wish it would have yielded up just a little bit more. Expand
  19. Mar 15, 2012
    9
    This is why we can't have nice things. The vast majority of the public sees a game without a sprint button and gets butt-hurt about spending $10 on it. Sit back, relax, and not worry about having to level up. Explore. Listen. That's it. The peace of mind I received was something I hadn't experienced since Myst and Riven. In a sea of games that cater to the ADD generation, I would gladly pay $20 for this rare gem. During my first play-through, I was captivated by the narrator and the eerie setting. I enjoyed making up my own theories to supplement the story, as opposed to the spoon-feeding I get when I play anything else. The caves were fantastic. Whoever wrote Skyrim had better caves needs a side-by-side comparison of the two. Don't get me wrong, I loved and still love Skyrim, bu just because a game costs more or sells more copies doesn't mean its better in any way shape or form. Then, I checked the forums. This game would've gotten an 8 out of 10 had I not read the forums. Those of you who have only played this game once are doing a HUGE disservice to yourself. You're missing half the content. Set pieces and dialogue are semi-randomized, and there are hidden things (I'm trying my hardest not to give it away) that will blow your MIND upon discovering them. Not to mention give you nightmares. If this game takes you an hour to complete, you're trying to beat it too hard. The only reason I docked this a point is because of the lack of choice at the end. Expand
  20. Mar 22, 2012
    10
    A clear ten, this isn't just a game, its freaking art. Good music, great story and in general great concept. And the atmosphere is absolutely awesome. Its not for the average "CoD - head" but for anyone with a wider love of gaming will love this. I love that you never get guided anywhere, and the only thing you have to do is walk, and experience it.

    Lovely
  21. Feb 20, 2012
    10
    One word - unique. It's hardly a game. Not much of gameplay here, but story is great and visuals astonishing. You just move your character across the island, hearing the cryptic narration, looking for clues, enjoying the landscapes... Nothing is really explained here, you need to put the puzzles together in your own head. You'll finish your first playthrough in about 1,5 h and Im pretty sure you'll find yourself staring in the ending screen... trying to make sense of all what you have seen.. then again, you'll visit the island one more time. And maybe one more... Great experience, great game, great art. Why 10 out of 10? It's a masterpiece in it's own genre.. I can't think of any other project, so emotional, so engaging .. with so less effort. There's no special effects here, no bombs exploding, no tragic deaths on screen.. There's just the island, the mystery, voice of the narrator.. Blowing wind, shadows playing tricks on you.. And music. Beautiful music. Expand
  22. Feb 16, 2012
    9
    I think this is the most unusual "game" of he last years, nevertheless i think it's worth and 40-60 minutes of your life to meet the interesting story lined presented in a form of monologes, absolutely unique music and sound effects and Source engine based beautiful picture of the lost island.
  23. May 16, 2012
    9
    I absolutely love Dear Esther. I've waited a long time for something like it to come along. Having created game levels in the Source engine myself its clear how much care and attention went into creating the environment, I'm sincerely impressed by what the developers have been able to build. The visuals are simply stunning and the eerie soundscape is wonderful too.

    The pace of movement is
    slow, but that is just right for the experience this game was designed to provide. It allows the mind to slide into a more contemplative mode as you explore and I found my thoughts wandering just as they would on a long walk.

    Overall I felt like I was trespassing on somebody else's dream. I realised as soon as I launched the game that it deserved to be played in a dimly lit room with the sound turned up, and found that once I allowed myself to become absorbed by the surroundings, it triggered unusual feelings of trepidation, loss, and a strong sense of 'l'appel du vide'. It brought Iain Banks' story The Bridge to mind.

    I would rank the journey through the second 'level' of Dear Esther alongside the end credits of Portal, the final scene of HL2 Ep2, and the first nightfall in Minecraft, as one of the great 'moments' in gaming.

    I really look forward to seeing more games that build on what Dear Esther has achieved, and extend that in different and unexpected ways.

    If you're someone who likes Iain Banks, 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', Wes Anderson films, Sigur Ros, Laura Marling or Lisa Hannigan, I think you'll enjoy Dear Esther.
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  24. Koo
    Apr 21, 2012
    9
    I won't re-hash what others have said RE: Dear Esther. How you experience the game will be unique to you. What I CAN say is that for myself, Dear Esther has been an experience like no other: I found it calming, soothing and quiet - the perfect alternative to first-person shooters and other violent computer games. If you're willing to keep an open mind about what a PC game "should" be, and you want to unwind, I recommend Dear Esther. Expand
  25. Mar 4, 2012
    10
    Dear esther puts you into a beautifully crafted world, the attention to detail is just excellent. Its one of the few games that ive played where it just leaves you sitting there wondering what just happened. The visuals, music and dialogue are all incredible and are weaved into the game perfectly.
  26. Feb 23, 2012
    10
    If you take the discussion about "is this a game or what is it?" aside, this mod is what brings once again an inventive way of using game engines to another level! If people were to search and experience the limitation from the Source Engine (even the Portal version), you could not say this was made on an 'old' engine, pre-made brushes and whatever. If there were people to come close to this level of world design, I would like to see it. Regardless of the facts, the poetry, voice, story, atmosphere and visual content expands our imaginations and possibilities, being a mod that can now motivate other players to start on the Source Engine, and perhaps make a game, mod similar to this or something totally different, but on the same level. If I were to say it, Dear Esther deserves a 10/10 just because of all those reasons. If I could meet Robert Briscoe ever, I would be honoured! Expand
  27. Feb 16, 2012
    10
    This game exudes polish. it is so organically presented and real attention was paid to color palettes, voice-over work and timing. its a gorgeous game that tells a cryptic yet emotional tale. it's a shame that it only takes an hour and a half to experience it, but i see it as a massive step in the right direction for games being finally taken seriously as an artistic medium. you don't have to solve puzzles to get past a door, but to understand the story better you have to look and really listen. it is an interesting gameplay mechanic, i am guessing the drawing board in their offices said "look, this is a story, but we're gonna tell it in a way that television, movies, books, paintings and photographs (and other games for that matter) have never been able to do." that is an achievement. Expand
  28. Feb 16, 2012
    10
    This game certainly was very different to most games of our time, I first saw it on steam and it looked pretty interesting so I looked at a review for it, instantly fell in love with the idea and bought it. In total I was able to put in about 80 minutes of game play by straight out playing it from beginning to end, I was not disappointed even by the shortness of the game. For a £7 price tag (UK currency) it was defiantly a treat, re imagining the idea of what games can do. The dialogue is extremely poetic and interesting and at first you will have no real idea what the protagonist is talking about, but as you walk around the island you will start seeing signs of things as the dialogue becomes more and more obvious. Once you get into the game it also becomes very eerie and creepy. This game is nothing short of a ghost story and it represents that perfectly, I swear I saw a man carrying a lantern off in a cave this one time I was looking around the island. As the game got to the conclusion I was so gripped I had to go on, ignoring my friends talking to me over steam. This game was an incredible experience for me and for gamers who do not mind and enjoy story and dialogue more than actual interaction with the game world. I only wish now that the developers would make a sequel or a similar game. Expand
  29. Feb 24, 2012
    9
    It is just a beautiful game. It redefines how we play video games today..... a MUST HAVE. It has amazing graphics. And it's really for anyone. It's just such a smart game. You can play it over and over and over again. It never gets old. I just love it!
  30. May 18, 2012
    9
    Dear Esther is a thrill ride, brilliant in the way it immerses the player without having to interact in any way with the environment (which btw is stunning) other then movement. One of the best indie titles ive had the joy of playing and sooo worth my £3.75 on steam
  31. Mar 7, 2012
    10
    An incredibly beautiful and fascinating "game" with deep story and the brilliant music. It is not a game, actually, it is a wonderful prose poem, the unbelievable experience. It is a very rare piece of art in our times.
  32. Feb 16, 2012
    9
    Absolutely brilliant. Very poetic, relaxing and beautifully enjoyable experience.
    Dear Esther is a interactive story driven game where you explore an island while you listen a story. The sounds, music and graphics, everything makes this game so artistically wonderful.
    The bad thing is that it is a bit short. However, i'm looking forward to see additional content and new stories. I would
    gladly pay for more content in this game. Expand
  33. Mar 8, 2012
    10
    Play Dear Esther in a dark room, headphones on, no distractions, and subtitles turned off. Dear Esther is a broadly magnificent and genuinely moving experience, and that was almost entirely on a sensory level. Playing the game on ultra, I've never seen something this beautiful before. Not even the great BF3 on ultra can't compare itself to this island. Deciphering the plot â
  34. Feb 20, 2012
    10
    If you are a David Lynch fan(as i am), then you would love this "game" To call it a game is very inaccurate. It is an emotional, atmospheric, story telling experience. Its a very alien experience in the sense that it will make you feel odd sensations and emotions you never even knew about. You'll never expect what you must do to keep moving on in your journey. Definitely the most unique title I've ever played. Expand
  35. Feb 20, 2012
    9
    A new medium for story telling, the story consists of diary entries and narration that serve the explorable world. The graphics are spectacular, and help aid the story by being relevant to your immediate surroundings or places you soon encounter. It's very original idea to use computer game graphics to serve a story while allowing the audience general interaction while it's taking place. Like a picture book on steroids, this new approach to story telling should certainly be expanded in the future. At $10, it's the price of the usual paperback and delivers a unique experience that's well worth the money. Expand
  36. Feb 19, 2012
    9
    A very... different experience. I really enjoyed it over all. Simple and minimalist can be a good thing, and it certainly is here. Not a hack and slash in any way, very much a contemplative game. Finished it in two hours, but it was well worth my $10. Very sad, but in the end it seems hopeful, maybe because I am optimistic at heart. It's all so left up to the player.
  37. Mar 1, 2012
    10
    Easily the very best game that I have played for years. The level design is first rate, as are the superb graphics and sound and incredibly immersive atmosphere. They story-telling is excellent - it gives you enough to get an idea of what is going on, yet doesn't spoon feed you. Multiple playthroughs will reward you with more narrative clips and different objects to see. It's a game that rewards patience, open-mindedness and imagination - those who only like to play shooters should avoid this, unless you feel like trying something very different. Dear Esther gets an easy 100% from me. Expand
  38. Mar 7, 2012
    10
    It is what it is. A short semi-interactive story. If you're looking for more in a "game" then it's not for you but if you accept what this is then you'll love it. It's beautiful, emotional and best enjoyed with a good alcoholic beverage. 10/10 and hoping to see more.
  39. Mar 8, 2012
    10
    This game is simply pure art. Something between good movie, game and book. Or combination of them all. I really experienced island and was there with main character, deep inside his mind. Ending is very sentimental. I can only hope there will be more games ( or what ever it is ) like this one.
  40. Mar 24, 2012
    10
    definitely not for everyone. It was willing to take the chance in creating sheer atmosphere and speculation for the audience.

    It's not at all like conventional games, for better or for worse. Despite the short length its production value (graphics, sound) is quite high. I personally liked it so I'm giving it a 10, that is, however, purely subjective and should only be taken as such
  41. Aug 12, 2012
    9
    I agree with others that calling Dear Esther a "game" is a mistake. I am also not convinced that it is well described as an "interactive story" either, as the level of interaction is quite minimal. You can control how quickly you move through the space, and to some degree in what order the story elements are revealed, but ultimately the path and the story are unalterable. It's a poetic short story. The fact that it was created and delivered using the tools of game creation and distribution have created some confusion on the user end.

    I very much like Dear Ester. When playing a FPS I will often clear a level of monsters and enemies so I can spend some time just wandering around and explore the environment, looking at the details. My only disappointment with Esther came when it ended. I wanted more.
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  42. Mar 29, 2013
    10
    Dear Esther is, by far, one of the most beautiful and moving games I have ever played. It may be better to call it "interactive art," rather than a "game." It isn’t about defeating enemies, or solving puzzles, or any test of skill. It’s about exploring a beautiful world and slowly unraveling a complex story. As long as you don’t go into it with the wrong expectations, it’s an incredible experience. Expand
  43. Feb 26, 2012
    10
    Flawless. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  44. Jul 7, 2012
    10
    I went back and forth a lot on this one, between 9 and 10. Rationale for "10": the developers have made something that captures our imagination; we become enrapt in an environment without having to blow anything up, kill things, solve complex puzzles, etc. There seems to have been a general trend towards less story-driven content and more blowing stuff up, and in my opinion the question has been, can we increase the story, the art, the atmosphere, etc., decrease the explosions, and still entertain people? This title *is* that experiment, having taken the shooting and problem-solving to absolutely zero -- and the response has been surprisingly (to me) positive. Rationale for "9": I was a little confused at the end; I had an expectation that by uncovering clues, I would be able to piece together a story that made sense. And I also read a little bit about this title, both before playing and after completing it, and I thought there would be more of a "ghost story" aspect to it. In the end I decided I was leaning more towards "10", as the rationale for "9" was reasoned away. Specifically, it dawned on me that there is no reason not to consider a game as a work of art; and as I began to consider this work amongst the many other types of works, such as poetry, music, painting, etc., and I realized that in art, there often is no "right answer" as to the meaning of the work. Some art works aren't so much important for their meaning as for their creativity, beauty, and their ability to make us think. The artist may have an idea in mind, a message to convey, but sometimes a work can lead to more questions than answers. It is often up to the beholder to decide what the meaning is, and to fill in the gaps. As for the "ghost story" aspect, once I came to find out (through fora and such) that there were mysterious shadows lurking around, and where they might turn up, I have to admit that I could no longer attempt play-throughs at nighttime with the lights out. That is a powerful statement. I'm not a spiritual person, but for some reason this story, setting, music, etc., had a very real effect on me. I'm not sure if I agree with the designers' approach of not allowing the player to get all the story fragments in one play-through, but it does give us the opportunity to go back through and pick up subtleties that we may have missed the first time through. In short, 9.5; I'll round up. Expand
  45. Feb 26, 2012
    9
    Ask yourself these questions before deciding to pay 10 dollars for this game. What do you value more, gameplay or art? Raw fun or emotion? If you answered, gameplay and fun instantly. This game might not be for you. If you came somewhere in the middle, then this game will truly test which side you truly prefer. Like most of you, I am in the middle. I enjoy the gameplay like anyone else. However I also think games are - for the most part - emotionally and artistically stumped. Far more than music, traditional art, and film. This very short game is less stumped - the tradeoff is that there is no gameplay. Just your own interpretation based off obscure poetic narration and what are essentially cave paintings. One day a game could incorporate compelling gameplay AND this kind of emotional and artistic integrity. If you want that, and enjoy poetry, music, and mystery. Get this. If you don't want that. Don't get this. My score reflects the value i place on both the experience I was given, which was more emotional and personal than countless other games of a far longer length - and my support for this direction in gaming. 1 point was deducted due to it being a 75minute to 3 hour (depending on your curiosity) length. Expand
  46. Mar 6, 2012
    10
    Amazing, i have no idea how someone could dislike this game.

    Absolutely beautiful visuals, writing and dialogue. Albeit slow, it draws you in to have full attention for it's entire rtunning time. Does not overstay it's welcome, and was worth every cent. Buy this if you want beauty out of your purchase, not longevity or gameplay.
  47. May 23, 2012
    10
    Dear esther n'est pas vraiment un jeu, c'est un ovni qui peut plaire ou pas. En tous les qu'à l'atmosphère qui règne dans cette oeuvre est magnifique, les somptueux graphisme y sont pour quelque chose, quel plaisir de se balader sur cette île et dans prendre plein la vue tout au long de l'histoire, et quand on sait que le moteur graphique est celui de half life 2 on a du mal à y croire. Pour tout ceux qui veulent passer un petit moment magique un peu en dehors du temps, je ne serai que vous conseillez cette oeuvre. Par contre si vous cherchez un jeu d'action aventure, laissez tomber. Voyez ce jeu plutôt comme un livre, ou plutôt une nouvelle, car une grosse heure de jeu vous suffira pour finir le jeu. Expand
  48. Mar 5, 2012
    10
    What a beautiful game. If you found yourself in Half Life 2 and Left 4 Dead spending just as much time taking in the artwork, reading every little message the survivors left in the safe room, and hanging out in levels far longer than you needed to, you will love this game. If you liked Amnesia, you will really like this game alot. You play FPS games with your eyes and your hands, you play a game like this with your SOUL. So beautiful and I hope we see more in this genre for years to come. Great visuals, great soundtrack, and absolutely amazing atmosphere, I had goosebumps most of the game, the same way I was scared out of my mind while playing Amnesia. Expand
  49. Dec 2, 2012
    10
    Great interactive story. Be ready that you won't get a game, but you'll get a story. Story is just clear to me, game (uhm, story) has a great idea behind, visuals are incredible, music is spellbinding. I really admire projects of these kind because developers respects not only instincts but also a brain. I really glad that more projects are on the way, not only from "the chinese room" but from other independent developers. Great stuff, really worths to spend money and time. Expand
  50. Jun 4, 2012
    10
    A wonderful experience that is a breath of fresh air in a genre bogged down with boring iron sights shooters. Most negative reviewers of this experience are missing the point entirely. Like someone watching a play of Hamlet while yelling they want their football. I guess this game is not for everyone, just the intelligent.
  51. Oct 25, 2012
    9
    One of the most beautiful & captivating games I have ever had the fortune to play. Little can be said about this rare gem which in all honesty cannot be branded a videogame, rather an interactive experience or test of ones emotion and perception. All I will say is if you start Dear Esther with a mind like a blank canvas you will emerge with your own uniquely vivid and moving memory of an island and story like no other. Expand
  52. Feb 20, 2012
    10
    Ignore all the negative views, as they do not understand. This isn't meant to be something like Cod, Dragon Age, or anything like that. It's supposed to be a story told throughout the game. You're not meant to fight anything. I guess it could be similar to Penumbra, but without the fighting and scary elements. I found that this used to be a mod for Half Life 2. Since then it has become much better. It's a great game and is definitely worth the money. Expand
  53. Jun 2, 2012
    10
    No I don't rate a game here, I can call it an interactive storytelling experience or an interactive cult cinema movie.

    The experience and the immersion where great! I felt the wind, I smelled the sea, I felt the loneliness and the acceptance of fate, I felt the melancholy and everything.

    I got it day one, and I believe that 8 euro were a great price for 2 hours of storytelling, it was
    like I paid those money to see a movie in cinema, just more immerse. Expand
  54. Feb 17, 2012
    10
    Not a game, but beautiful. Graphics are way better than those of Valve itself. The original mod was of course nothing to brag of. I waited eagerly ever since the first screenies came out of this new one and was excited when it was finally released.

    Seems like a nice idea for a L4D2 campaign.
  55. Feb 18, 2012
    9
    Having completed the mod version, I can say the game has been greatly improved. I don't want to spoil anything, but the source engine has never looked so haunting and beautiful. The narrative is superbly written, among the best in the industry. This is a narrative, not a game. A captivating narrative at that. The game is relatively short, even with multiple playthroughs. Give this a try if you are an open minded gamer looking for something different. Expand
  56. Mar 8, 2012
    10
    I have just one word for you guys: The graphics for this game are awesome, sure you can't blow **** up. But hey, you scrubs can play CoD for that. Because of the awesome visuals, the source engine, and the ace narration, I award this game five out of five stars. Nice going!
  57. Feb 16, 2012
    10
    Dear Esther is an otherworldly experience, yet the uneasily becalming feeling of being-in-the-world, this sense of "coming back to oneself" is ineffable. The journey is mine as well as yours, it transcends the meaning of being-oneself. This experience is intangible, but real; mythical, but precise; familiar, but alien. Everything, from the atmosphere to the music, just everything contributes to this experience. An experience which deserves better words - but there aren't any.
    It will make itself speechless in the end, leaving oneself to become speechless. Its story renders everything immutable.

    This, the experience, the feel, the sense, this is art in its purest form. This is a masterpiece.
    Expand
  58. Jul 14, 2012
    10
    What can I say that hasn't already been said? For about the cost of train fare across Los Angeles County you can experience a totally new gaming phenomenon. If you're living paycheck to paycheck, or allowance to allowance, you might want to focus on priorities. Otherwise this is a purchase the decision for which makes itself.
  59. Dec 27, 2012
    10
    I was very pleasantly surprised by this game. Best experienced in the dark with a hot beverage while it is raining outside. I don't think a video game has ever communicated emotions as complex and meaningful as this one has. It's true, the level of interaction is very subtle, however, those who say it should be a movie have missed the point. Also, be careful not to mistake ambiguity for pretension as some critics have. The strength of this medium is that it forces the player to reflect. Though I only played it on a 15" 720p screen, the visuals are stunning. Be sure to take screenshots while playing. Expand
  60. Sep 16, 2013
    10
    Dear Esther isn't like anything u have played before. It isn't about competing, beat enemies, or even interacting with anything. Dear Esther is maybe more like a 3D book than it is a videogame, and in this genre, it's probably the best work ever. It also beats in inmersion, atmosphere and story to most games out there. If you are looking for a completely new and bittersweet experience, and you don't mind risking 10$ in a game that you could love or hate, then go for it and prepare to squeeze your brain to understand this tragical story (even the protagonist's identity remains a discussion among the players!). Expand
  61. Jun 8, 2012
    10
    This game has integrity and dignity. It offers an unparalleled experience that implies that players have the capacity to slow down, take a deep breath, and be "in the moment". The incredible music, breathtaking atmosphere, and mysterious narrative will make you forget the absence of "game play". There's no interaction, just exploration. The creators of this game do not treat you like a stereotypical "gamer" who depends on gore and big guns to be satisfied. This is not a video game, it's a work of art. Expand
  62. Jul 28, 2012
    10
    This is THE first indie game I actually loved, in fact maybe the first game, in general, I have loved! Everything about this "game" is amazing. Except the fact it isn't really a game but more like a narrated movie or story in which you walk around an island. Although you cannot run and it may start off slow the story line of the "game" is so amazing that quite Frankly once I start I cannot stop until I've finished it. Only two movies in the past ten years have made me cry "Marly and Me" and "Click" but by the end of this game I couldn't stop wasting tissues and wiping my eyes. Perhaps not even a book I've read in the past ten years has made me cry as much as this simple, fictional "game." Please don't take me for some literate smart 'A' who has no idea about games because on steam alone I have 67 games ranging from COD to Warhammer, Gary's mod to Skyrim, and even games like Amnesia and Penumbra. So if maybe you are looking for a more meaningful game as opposed to the nonsense of' first person shooters then this is exactly what you want. I have never played a game that's less than an hour long that has brought me that far into the story and I hope they make more games like this one. Although Dear Esther has a somewhat short play through (first time about an hour, second maybe 40 min) you can play it a thousand times and there will always be something new, it's details are so rich that there will always be something you have overlooked or walked passed that will link more of the intense story together. Don't listen to those who say "Don't bother, it's not even a game" because maybe not it's essentially a game I believe one day, soon hopefully, It will become an entirely new genre! I'm sure there are quite a few people who wouldn't like this game because it takes a more literate, developed mind to understand. Even if this game had no story line the graphics and stunning sound as well as the music are enough to make you love it. Every time I hear the song they play in the trailer, which is also played at the end of the "game," I cry now and, now I truly believe this game is a part of my heart. I'm sorry this 'review' is all over the place but I hope you will give Dear Esther a chance since it is the greatest "game" I have ever played and I hope you too will think so as well! Expand
  63. Aug 6, 2012
    10
    I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this game. Just understand, this game requires patience and the understanding that it isn't what you'd commonly think of as a game, it's more of a graphical experiment. You walk through an island and marvel at it's beauty, with bits of story here and there. If you don't have the patience, I do not recommend this game to you.
  64. Sep 17, 2012
    10
    Wow! I finished this game 5 minutes ago and I'm totally delirious. This is real masterpiece. It is very strong point in the history of video games for me. Thank you!
  65. Sep 25, 2012
    9
    Dear Esther, released on the Steam Network, is a remake of a 2008 Half Life 2 mod. But to simply call it a remake does not do the game justice. It is a complete overhaul of the original, with a new score and a complete graphical make over.

    Having never touched the mod, this was a new experience for me. Loading the game, I immediately went to the options menu and checked my control
    scheme. Odd, there is no action button. I can only walk and swim upwards. No "use", no "shoot".

    This sent alarm bells running through my head. Is this a $9.99 tech demo? Is this even a game?

    2 hours of playtime later, I would have my answers. No, this is not a glorified tech demo and not only is it a game, but it is one of the most fulfilling and rich game experiences I have had in a very long time.

    While I won't give away any of the details of the story, the premise is pretty simple. You are on a massive island that you will explore while triggering dialogue sequences that are in the form of a letter to a woman named Esther. As you travel, you will uncover more and more of the plot.

    Upon completion of the game, I felt as if I had been emotionally drained. Everything about the presentation was almost perfection. The score (composed by Jessica Curry) would swell at just the right times while never becoming overbearing and overly dramatic. The voice acting (Nigel Carrington) was equally well done, keeping with the tone of the story line. And then there were the graphics. I didn't realize that it was possible to pull this much stunning beauty out of the Source engine. The island itself is full of details, down to the trash on the beach and the markings on the walls. With all of that in mind, I still have a couple of very minor complaints. For one, the experience, while engaging and emotionally draining, still feels too short. I wanted more dialogue and more story. While I am sure there is more in a second play through, I still feel as if I should get more plot in my initial sitting.

    Another small thing is the lack of a "pick up" button. While it was appropriate to not have action oriented buttons, there were plenty of in game objects that were amazingly rendered and would have been even better if I were able to pick them up and examine them. While you could zoom in with the left mouse button, I wanted to get even closer to some objects.

    Those two issues are very inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. This game is high quality and well worth your time.
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  66. Dec 31, 2012
    10
    I don't often buy games knowing nothing about them, but I picked up Dear Esther during a Steam sale and couldn't be happier with what I found. It is arguable that it doesn't fit the typical expectations of an interactive game, but when one considers gaming as an art form, Dear Esther fits beautifully. It allows the player to experience a narrative story at your own pace, sort of like an interactive short film. The lack of total closure or specific details behind the story left me deep in thought for quite some time afterward, which is a feeling that I strongly value as an aspiring writer. Initially I did find the lack of environmental interaction frustrating, but I came to understand that it heightens the players senses when their interactivity is limited. Knowing there is only so much one can do shapes how the world of Dear Esther is perceived makes it difficult to miss any important points of interest. I'd have gladly paid more than the $4 I spent for such an experience. Expand
  67. Jan 14, 2013
    10
    People that say that the game sucks. Yes, it sucks as a game, but if you see like a story.
    I'm trying to say that the people that review this just care about the game play, the graphics and all that.
    And, you should revisit the game, because the story changes.
    I really liked it.
    And by reading the other reviews i see A LOT of people thinking that this game was going to be the next call
    of duty (I don't really like call of duty) or saints row. Expand
  68. Feb 8, 2013
    9
    This isn't a game and wasn't really meant to be a game so I'll review it for what it is, which is visual/auditory art that you walk around in. Most kids won't appreciate this title, the emotional impact would just go over their heads just like they'd be bored with experiencing any art. The environment design is top notch especially for the old engine. If you've ever played an MMO or FPS and said, "that place way over there on top of that mountain would look cool" and get there and it's not all that impressive, well, every part of this environment just looks really nice and beautiful from any angle. The sound and music really add to this as well. This title is just a feeling and it instills feeling more than any other game I've played. The only problem I had with it is that it's so short, but the impact, what you take away from a game after playing it, was still very real. Expand
  69. Jul 21, 2013
    10
    This is not a game. It is a wonderfully sad and beautiful experience. It's worth every minute and penny
    The enviroment is amazing in every way and it's almost impossible not to be engulfed by the depressing and romantic narrative.
    If I could I would vote 15/10.
  70. Sep 26, 2013
    10
    A glorious piece of art telling a story through a progressive narrative. Dear Ether is an extremely moving journey of self discovery and acceptance, a truly moving narrative of a mans journey to seek peace. A game that I personally found to tug at the deeper-most emotions I never thought I had. I cant really say any more without compromising the story the game unfolds before you but I can at least say the Dear Ether is in the top tier of essential games to play in anyones life. I admit the story starts off confusing and quite slowly but as the story is further expanded connections are built and understanding follows with the progress you make. Expand
  71. Feb 17, 2014
    9
    Make no mistake, this is not an adrenaline junkie twitchfest, and If that's what your attention span demands from a game then don't bother. But if you're driven by mood and story, then this is an interactive piece of art that shouldn't be passed up.
  72. Apr 30, 2014
    9
    Dreamy dialogue, subtle score and a total lack of guns lift the first-person immersion to new heights. I only wish there was more, but what there is, engulfs. Caves so captivating as to make the inclusion of any contemporary characters within them beyond measure. Carries some of the intentional artistic detail level that was previously hinted at by adventure greats of old (Simon the Sorcerer, Gabriel Knight, I'm looking at you). I found myself tip-toeing on stones not to get my shoes wet, worrying about tripwiring the contents of dense thickets and carefully judging my character's balance. Like travelling to an end of the world with a poet by your side. How odd. Expand
  73. Jul 16, 2012
    10
    First things first, you will only get about an hours game play out of this game and if you're looking for action then go elsewhere. Now that's out of the way I would definitely recommend this game, gripping, interesting, at times emotional, breathtaking and I have no regrets about paying the price I did for it. At first you may think £9.99 (RRP?) is a bit of a rip off for such a short game, think again, this game gripped me from start to finish, it is a breath of fresh air, don't compare it to other games, think of it as a concept within itself, try putting yourself in the mindset that you are playing through a film or a story rather than a regular game. It will play tricks on you, you will be unsure if you just saw/heard something or if you just imagined it, the story drags you in, you feel attached to the character despite not seeing them, you understand their mindset, and the game sort of lets you make of it what you will, give it a chance, play through to the end, and you won't regret a second of it. Expand
  74. Jul 16, 2012
    10
    Best game i have played in a long time. Only Spec Ops:The Line beats it based on story. Great relaxing game that is hard to understand for younger children.
  75. Jul 17, 2012
    10
    Dear Esther is, simply put, a work of art. From the very first moment, when the screen fades into view and you take your first steps out into the world, it is like opening up your favorite short story and soaking in every word for all it's worth. The stunning visuals, the beautiful soundtrack, and the increasingly eerie narrative all serve to pull you into this world as if it was your own. The worst thing you could do with a game like this is to rush through it to the end, because every moment is precious. Stop and stare off into the sunset from the cliffside, go explore that abandoned house on the hill, or dive into that pool of water. Let the game guide you on your journey, and I can promise you won't be disappointed by what you find. Expand
  76. Jul 18, 2012
    10
    This game is beautiful. I have never written a review before and created a metacritic account specifically to say how wonderful this game is. It made me smile at how stunning and ethereal some of it is, it made me sad, it made me a little scared in places, it even made me shiver while sitting in a warm room because the mist blowing off the sea is so effective. I played through this in one sitting and I am glad for the experience. It's important not to go into the game expecting the usual fare, it's a very passive experience. Having said that the game does reward players partaking in the small amount of exploration available. As a gamer I think we need more of this. A game made out of love, with attention to detail and not to a financial bottom line. Game designers have a duty to make good games, true, but game players also have a duty: to support pieces like this when they come along and reward them like they deserve. If your looking for a unique experience that is a far cry from the usual FPS on rails shooter then I cannot recommend this game highly enough. Incredible Expand
  77. Oct 22, 2013
    10
    This is hardly a video game, and more a piece of art. The scenery is breathtaking, the music is spectacular, and the story is eerie. A lot of people won't see this for what it is simply b/c there is little to do except walk around. This is the type of game that you lock the doors and turn off all lights, and sounds and just experience it. Experience the history, the serenity, the loneliness, the sorrow or an island world and a mans story. I found the game to be like a good book with the pieces of the narrator slowly filling in the gaps to find out just what has happening, is going to happen, and what once was happening. Though it was short, I felt it was worth every penny of the sale price, and has replay value on the living and breathing world alone. I can't imagine if skyrim had had a world so alive, bright, dark, and dead such as this. What an amazing time for video games we live in. If you play consoles and Call of Duty, you won't be able to appreciate this sort of artwork most likely. Expand
  78. Nov 16, 2013
    10
    A brilliant, beautiful game. Jessica Curry's soundtrack is amazing! I have played and replayed this game and it never gets old. I'm sure it's not for everyone but the way the story unfolds and leaves you to make your own conclusion about what happened.
    Great game!
  79. Jun 6, 2013
    9
    It's a great experience, yes, an experience more then a video game. It has one of the best soundtracks and sceneries in any computer generated "things". A bit short but replayable. Definitely a must buy with a sale or in a bundle. 9/10
  80. Jun 6, 2013
    9
    Oh wow. Dear Esther was really a delicious treat for anybody who likes philosophical games and the likes. The game features many many clues and possibilities, you, as the player, must construct your own version of what happened. I must admit I was going to give this game a 7, but, it just stuck with me, I couldn't stop thinking about it for about thirty minutes.
    I checked other people's
    thoughts and possible endings and my own version was suddenly there, it made the game SO much better and profound. I got this game along with a bunch of other indie games for a dollar on "Humble-bundle" and man, it was so worth it. This game is seriously superb, you might not catch it at first though, let it sink in, it's worth the wait.

    Warning: This game appeals to a very specific audience of people who appreciate games that are as artfully and skillfully crafted as this one, if you're the casual "Hack & Slash" PC gamer (nothing wrong there, I enjoy those too occasionally), don't play this game as you might be disapointed.
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  81. Aug 31, 2013
    9
    Beautiful, poetic, fresh, refreshing, short (but then I suppose it had to be short, hopefully in the future more such stuff will follow as the format lends itself well to experiential extension). Overall, awesome experience, a definitively innovative approach to the use of virtual environments.
  82. Aug 21, 2013
    9
    While Dear Esther may not be a game in the traditional sense, It sure is an amazing interactive experience. A well-told story, slowly expanding within you while you wander through the absolutely gorgeous landscape. I always enjoyed the atmosphere in video games, and I'm one of those gamers that get silly just watching the sun, or a river if they're nicely designed, even during the break of a frantic shoot-out in a good looking FPS. It just takes me there for a while, i get my "fix" of virtual reality, even if that's not that close to it anyway.

    Dear Esther took me there, it gave me my "fix" of virtual wandering about, it gave me the sun and sea gazing, it made me walk slowly but carefully, and almost smell the grass, or the still water inside the caves. It didn't last long enough though, that's my only negative remark about it I'd certainly buy and relive and extended version, or even more, a new production based on this formula anytime. Surely, it's not what you call a game, but it's entertaining, atmospheric and has an artistic value that can -and should- be appreciated
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  83. Oct 30, 2013
    10
    Couldn't help myself and rated the game 10/10.

    With Dear Esther, The Chinese Room shared their vision of video games, according to which games are not just market products but also evocative of strong, pure feelings.
    The graphics are amazingly beautiful, the soundtrack is one of the best I've heard, the writing is wonderful... All these things serving this unique gameplay, this unique
    story, this unique experience.

    A lot of people, not very art sensitive, will hate it, won't call it a game and won't be able to get over the slowness of the character or the game's price but a few others will absolutely love this game, for what it is and what it has to offer a brief, but intense, deep, beautiful and inspiring journey.
    A piece of art.
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  84. Dec 5, 2013
    9
    BE WARNED: This is not a game! It is a 3D simulation story.

    The story is great, and uses excellent English vocabulary. The graphics are easing and romantic, especially the caves. Do indubitably buy and play this game if you feel like relaxing and walking in a 3D world as you listen to the narrator talk and tell the story.
  85. T0G
    Dec 14, 2013
    9
    It's a bit like walking through someone's memories. Interesting because it is so different to the usual game experience. Not too sure if I would want to do it again, though..
  86. May 21, 2014
    9
    Dear Esther is one of the most beautifully atmospheric experiences you may ever play. Due to its lack of game mechanics, you are free to walk through a desolated island, discovering an epistolary, non-linear story.

    Although it may sound absurd for a gamer, Dear Esther is not about objects to grab, paths to jump, characters to interact with or puzzles to explictly solve.

    From the
    small details that build the landscapes to the nostalgic soundtrack and impressive sounds ambience of solitude, I garantee you hours of tranquil and peaceful wandering.

    More than a game, it's some kind of an interactive cinematic and very personal experience to dive into.
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  87. Jun 1, 2014
    10
    Beautiful piece of work.
    Not a game, it's a interactive journey with a slight sad sad mood.
    If you love the sweet calling of nature, with it's beauty, this will please your heart.
    I'm looking forward to see more spiritual games, like this.
  88. Feb 23, 2012
    0
    The game is a really interesting idea. Sure it is a huge player that does not say when the first 5 minutes of the game, but this is not about. The game is simply a new type of game (for me this is no ordinary adventure) terribly turned on its story and views, and feelings that are at playing the game. This game can not be offended by this game you have no opinion. But the game has a really interesting atmosphere, but so far few people get to like it. My rating, do not know how to judge, so he just says that the game interesting Collapse
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. 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
    55
    Thechineseroom studio managed to create something surprising and original, but Dear Esther is something you experience rather than play. [April 2012, p.79]