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6.5

Mixed or average reviews- based on 572 Ratings

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  1. 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
    nonexistent.

    It is worth about one dollar. Anything more than that is a complete waste.
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  2. Aug 8, 2014
    8
    Dear Esther is the kind of video game which is cursed, doomed to be criticized. The reason is gameplay for you only do three things: walk, listen and watch. Formula like this can encourage a fair number of people to confer a title of Walking Simulator - 2012 on this new adventure game from the British developer The Chinese Room, who previously worked on the atmospheric Half-Life 2 mod Korsakovia. But on this point gamers should ask themselves a question: do they need another FPS on the rather flooded modern VG-market or are they open for innovative ideas and blending of various kinds of art?
    WASD and a mouse are required to experience this title. Considering this fact, if Dear Esther was the first video game ever made by man, the industry would have been slightly different... However, alternate history theories aside, DE is to be considered as an unusual experiment, which strays from traditional principles of electronic entertainment. Gameplay is stripped of some widespread features: interactive objects, logs and puzzles. It takes away the fun in a traditional sense of the word. Though it may be all of this have been sacrificed for the sake of storytelling and getting more engaging and emotion-focused experience.
    Dear Esther looks and sounds gorgeous. It is not about photo-realistic visuals but about game of light and dark, colors and shapes. The island you explore is alive: grass sways, water flows, caves breathe and glimmer. The result: one of the most impressive landscapes in gaming. The Chinese Room's game is in one league with Dead Space and Skyrim in this category. Sound design is faithfully backing it all up. Here everything - from chilly wind to distant ship horns - sounds so naturally yet somehow not ordinary, unusual. Combined with serene, at times dreadful music it makes a huge impact, immersing one into the atmosphere.
    The storyline is another strong point of the game. Presented in a form of an audio messages, it tells about the man who lives (lived?) on the island as a hermit. He wrote a letter to Esther, supposedly his wife, and messages you hear exploring the island are clippings from this writing. They appear when you reach certain spots of the location. This feature adds some replay value as one can discover new pieces of the story should he visit places he missed in the next play-through. The narrator is brilliant and reminds of the great Richard Burton, who lent his voice for Jeff Wayne's 1978 epic rock opera War of the Worlds. The story raises some major existential questions, leaves room for interpretation, and overall feels like it has been inspired by H.P. Lovecraft works.
    Giving the game credit where credit's due, it is more than just a bold experiment. Dear Esther is an indie title which shows that gaming has grown up and is not just about mashing buttons and shooting galleries anymore. It offers no challenge but challenges your mind. It doesn't pull of any tricks but broadens the boundaries of PC gaming instead, thereby bringing rage upon itself. If your slogan is "No gameplay, no game", there is nothing for you here and there'll never be.
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  3. 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.
  4. 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
    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
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  5. 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.
  6. May 28, 2014
    0
    Bad game, not because it doesn't have guns or monsters, in fact I thought it would be GOOD for those reasons. I stand corrected. I didn't pay for a two hour game that is just a guy talking in riddles. I payed for a great story that I could really get into, because that's what it was meant to be. At the end all I was saying was "Huh? What? Is it over? What happened?" and to be honest, the graphics are horrible, Sure, it's great for the Source engine, but Source came out 2004, this game was released in 2012 people! If you want to walk around a countryside with good graphics, then get Skyrim. Also it only has two hours of gameplay. And even if it was longer, it wouldn't be any better because there isn't even any gameplay to speak of!
    Gameplay: N/A
    Next gen graphics: N/A
    Anyone who gives this game a score of 7/10 is lying. Anyone who gives this game a score of 10/10 IS LYING. I cannot recommend this game to anyone.
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  7. May 28, 2014
    3
    irst things first - THIS IS NOT A VIDEO GAME.
    This is something you may call an "experience". If you you can call an 'experience' holding "W" for an hour and moving around your mouse a bit while listening to some incoherent pretentious semi-random narration.

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

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

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

    I would love to really explore the island (Miasmata style, be able to interact with objects even if just to watch them more closely or just move them about. I would love more story than some random sentences recited in the background
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  8. 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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  9. May 18, 2014
    3
    The interactions in this game are very minor, couple that with the excruciatingly slow walking speed and you have a game that grows boring quickly. However if you can find it cheap enough you may enjoy this short experience.
  10. 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
  11. 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 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.
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  12. Apr 4, 2014
    4
    Like everyone has already mentioned, this is not a game. It is a movie that you have to hold down 'W' to watch so I will rate it as if it was a movie. The story is somewhat interesting I guess, but the pacing is really poor. The character walks around slowly and every once in a while says some fairly vague things until you have pieced together what the whole thing is about. If the story had been presented in around 30 minutes I would have rated much higher, but it took me 100 minutes to complete. That is a good 70 minutes of wandering past rocks, glowing fungus, and things scribbled on walls waiting for the next dialogue to start.
    Giving this game 4/10 might be a bit generous, but considering that someone sent it to me for free I enjoyed it that much. If I had paid much of anything for it I might have been too pissed off the whole time to even like it. Save yourself a couple dollars and watch a play-through video on the internets. Gameplay wise it will be the exact same experience.
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  13. Mar 8, 2014
    8
    This is an amazing and surprising game, forgetting the endless discussion about definitions on what a game is. It's not conventional, it have few gameplay elements, it's story-driven - an intriguing, mysterious and very beautiful story, by the way.

    It starts very boring and confusing. You have to spend some time, wandering around the island - with beautiful graphics - to catch fragments
    of this story, which are randomly narrated, and may reveal something to you through the journey. But this story will finish with some gaps, leading you to want to play again to catch more fragments and then, possibly understand the full story of Esther and the protagonist, although that story have a lot of metaphoric interpretations too. The journey is full of small well placed elements you can see and add to your interpretation.

    It lasts three hours to me, and after two more hours i'm still thinking about Dear Esther story, my head full of the images, the thoughts, and the music of this really wonderful game.
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  14. Feb 25, 2014
    0
    The system won't accept negative values, so I had to vote 0.
    I really enjoyed the ending because the character does exactly what you wanted to do since mid-game.
    There are tons of things you could enjoy more, including being raped by a gorilla.
    Save your money, don't buy this game.
  15. 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.
  16. Dec 29, 2013
    3
    A pretentious non-interactive corridor walk with nice graphics.

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

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

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

    Disappointing, except for the good graphic and sound, which builds a nice background atmosphere.
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  17. 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 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
  18. Dec 27, 2013
    3
    While it is certainly a beautiful and detailed world, Dear Esther is not a game. When you pay for a game, and expect a game, this is very disappointing. It is closer to a demo for a textuure artist and 3d modeler than a game. Not fun at all, lacks any real narrative and the experience is completely un-engaging. Don't waste your money on this.
  19. Dec 24, 2013
    3
    It might be a nice piece of art but it's not a game. It could have been a video I would had the same experience.... Nice graphics & story but absolutely no gameplay.
  20. 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..
  21. Vag
    Dec 8, 2013
    0
    See the hidden meaning in a piece of or a black square sign unsound mind. This is philosophy-schizophrenic interactive story for those who like a black square.
  22. 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.
  23. Nov 20, 2013
    4
    Not really a game. More of an interactive story where there is really nothing to interact with. The only positive side of this... thing... is the graphics which are very nicely detailed but there is just absolutely no real objective rather than walk to the end of this slightly confusing and completely unsatisfying path of zero events.
  24. 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!
  25. Nov 14, 2013
    4
    Dear Esther is not a game. A game has rewards, mechanics, puzzles, ect. Dear Esther is an audio book designed for a game engine. It has you walk in a designated path to learn a story. Your first walk through you will not get the whole story. You need to walk around another time. The path that you can take is severely limited. There is no real exploring. If you see something intriguing in the distance then that's it. You've just seen something intriguing in the distance.

    Dear Esther reminds me of shopping for groceries to cook dinner only to remember you need one more ingredient to start and must go shopping again. Then halfway through cooking you run out of something else and have to make a 3rd trip to the store to complete dinner. Dinner wasn't about the multiple journeys you had to take. It wasn't about how long it took to cook. It's just about sitting down and eating a delicious dinner. If, before you began cook, you knew getting dinner ready would take 3 trips to the store you'd probably just quit and order take out.
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  26. Nov 13, 2013
    3
    Dear Esther is more of a visual showcase or tech demo than a game. That being said, I cannot recommend this title to a fellow gamer. The story is forgettable and all you do is walk down a very linear path for 2-3 hours. A great example of how a game being different does not necessarily mean it will be good.
  27. 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 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
  28. 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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  29. 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.
  30. Oct 24, 2013
    4
    Mind numbingly dull; I forced myself to complete it despite how bored I was throughout because I was expecting some revelation to make the game worthy of all the praise thats been heaped upon it (and to get my moneys worth). As others have said Dear Esther isn't a game, its a SLIGHTLY interactive story (interactive in that you walk around and look at things, thats pretty much it). That'd be fine if the story was any good but its not; its a boring and very, VERY predictable. 2 points for trying something different (in spite of failing) and 2 points for the occasionally lovely environments. Expand
  31. 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
  32. 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.
  33. Oct 17, 2013
    1
    This "game" has to be the worst "attempt" at a gaming experience that i have seen, do not i repeat do not buy this "game" unless you have a fetish for holding down the w button for a solid hour. it is unreasonably boring drawn out artificially there is no objective no challenge and really no redeeming qualities, if you like these kind of games, get the stanley parable it is leagues better in every way.

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

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

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

    This thing deserves every low rating it has gotten and frankly deserves more.
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  34. Oct 17, 2013
    1
    Most boring game i ever played. I never did anything in game just hold W there was nothing to do in there nothing interactive i liked Heavy rain and Beyond two souls, but i hated this game because its nothing, but environments and holding W button that's really sad
  35. Oct 14, 2013
    8
    [Game] Dear Esther I really enjoyed your art movie game thing it was.… fun or something but really I did like it I swear.... Fun to play the whole-game-art-thingymagig with just one hand on the mouse for one hour and then it was over. What was that? I understand that if I play it again then there will random story reconstruction? I guess I better play it again. Released 2012.02 and played 6 months later. Score 8. Firm. Expand
  36. 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
  37. Sep 23, 2013
    2
    No plot, it was a sort of explore, but to me graphics are only good if it feels like I caused them. This is like looking at a high quality art piece. It might speak to you, but for the vast majority of the time, you are just wondering, "what is my role in this".
  38. Sep 19, 2013
    1
    This so called game has absolutely no game play elements in it whatsoever. No interaction with the enthronement, not even a run key. The environmental eye candy is nice to look at but you're forced to trudge along at a snails pace while random clips of audio that may or may not have anything to do with what you're looking at play. If you want to recreate the experience for free go for a walk in the woods and talk to yourself. Expand
  39. 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
  40. Sep 12, 2013
    4
    It's difficult to review a game like this because I don't know what it's trying to accomplish. If it wanted to tell a story, it should have been a small book if it wanted to have beautiful graphics, it should have had beautiful graphics if it wanted to be a game, it would have had mechanics other than walking. The combination of the 3 doesn't seem to help, and yet I still have absolutely no idea what to think of this. The idea of an interactive story is flawed an here's why. You can't 'read back' like you can in a traditional book, and even movies provide the option to rewind; here, if you lose your focus, you lose a chunk of the narrative and have no way of getting it back without replaying the level. This is a sort of thing that should allow you to walk back in time in case you missed something. Second, it relies on the player to progress the narrative. Instead of having gameplay to soothe a regular game's gap between story elements, this game has nothing but walking; there is nothing there to pass the time from A to B.

    I get that it's not supposed to be a 'game' in the traditional sense, but it leaves itself open to criticism when it does the ONE thing it's supposed to do in a sub-par manner. At the end of the day, I'm left with the sour taste in my mouth of an uninteresting story with a guy who's trying too hard to be British narrating it (I don't care if he's actually British or not). With nothing to pass the time from A to B but poor geometry and low-res textures, the game ceases to be interesting in the slightest. People are acclaiming it like it's the holy-grail of new ideas when it isn't, and I just don't see the point in Dear Esther, I'm sorry.
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  41. 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
    pretentious.

    Dear Esther has nothing to offer apart from a great artistic and graphic style. It's all about level design, nothing more.
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  42. Sep 9, 2013
    0
    This may very well be the worst "game" I ever played.This is more of a demo and even as that feels empty.Its a hour long ambiguous plot of a story.Nothing, is concrete nor explained leaving ppl left to connect the dots.Some ppl would say thats one of the games beauty but from a paid game,it just felt incomplete.
  43. Sep 2, 2013
    3
    Dear Esther,

    Your game sucks.

    You basically just walk through an (admittedly mostly beautiful) environment with no interactivity while you listen to little bits of a mediocre story. You'd expect the island to hold clues, but really just has some nonsense. I sort of knew the premise and was still very disappointed. $10 for this game/experience is very frustrating for a consumer. It
    would also be different if there were multiple pathways or something, but it is completely linear destroying all possibilities of any replay value. I would advise to stay away unless it becomes on sale for only a few bucks. Expand
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
    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.
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  46. 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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  47. Aug 10, 2013
    8
    I have to agree that this is not a game, and I was frustrated at first because I was expecting something more along the lines of a horror adventure game. When I started playing I was waiting for something to happen, but nothing ever did, the main character kept telling the story, it was until halfway through the second chapter that I realized that I was not playing a game. I was experiencing a retold tale, everything was symbolic in some way to the story your character was telling. At first I was gonna quit, but the graphics, were stunningly beautiful and the story was intriguing. I kept traveling through, taking plenty of screen shots, it was pretty incredible. Unfortunately there is not much replay value in this game, I was not surprised though on most of the reviews found here, I can see where people would be frustrated, as I was discovering I paid for something that should free or next to free. Expand
  48. Aug 9, 2013
    0
    Any number known to man would represent an overrated score for this walking simulator. Dragging your excruciatingly slow character across the island is terribly uninteresting, and the tale being told does not make up for that. If this was actually art, as some would like to believe, you would see at least some creative use of the possibilities of videogames at work, but no, let's just walk around while hearing a story. I actually paid money to hear a poor audiobook while exploring a virtual place quite resembling the real world a few steps from home.

    Art can explore new ways to use a particular media, and the greatest works of art may change the way we see that media in a permanent way. This game doesn't even try to explore the possibilities of gaming. If this was a movie there would literally be no difference, except you wouldn't be pressing W. It is not fun, it is not creative, it is not an interesting story, but you can still buy it and tell everybody who says it isn't good that the game is just to deep for them.
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  49. Jul 29, 2013
    0
    It's not a game. You just run around and listen to random paragraphs of text which doesn't make much sense. Playing this so-called game for free is not worth the time spent, but paying for it is just nonsense.
  50. 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.
  51. 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 own conclusions will really enjoy this. Expand
  52. Jul 15, 2013
    8
    Dear Esther certainly has a different way of telling story in a video game, which is probably the cause of the many mixed reviews, but for someone who is ready to experience something different and truly immersive, it's an indie game that is well worth the money. The main draw to the game is the beautifully crafted levels and mountain vistas that were all somehow achieved in Source; a game engine that is quickly becoming dated and doesn't handle open environments very well. Despite the technical limitations, the art assets are nothing less than spectacular at a great performance rate and compliment the many mysteries and often eerie situations that the narrative invokes. Many times I found myself stopping to admire the environments and many details that make up the whole game experience. It would also be a shame not to commend the game for its soundtrack, as it has a very mesmerizing quality to it and adds to the overall atmosphere of the game beautifully. Expand
  53. Jul 4, 2013
    0
    There is no gameplay. Its NOT a game. extremeky boring, you just walk slowly trying to discover the correct way out there is an annoying story that doesn't matter too much since there is nothing today. Even if u don't pay for this so called game it would be a waste of time
  54. Jun 25, 2013
    2
    The walking is jittery, the graphics are pretty bulky and unimpressive, and the story just isn't good. The sound effects don't even work well. Its like someone took everything good that Proteus had and forgot to put it in this game.
  55. 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 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.
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  56. AWG
    Jun 17, 2013
    4
    Boring. I really wanted to understand what was behind Dear Esther but I couldn't do that over the amount of boredom this "game" inoculated in me: you can do nothing, you can interact with nothing, you never have to take a decision, a choice. You keep walking and listening, walking and listening. walking a listening.
    It's not a game, it's an audio-book.
  57. 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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  58. 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
  59. 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
    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.
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  60. 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 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
  61. May 29, 2013
    4
    I played Dear Esther and Proteus back to back, and it is clear to me that this is the superior "art adventure" game. I went in to this game knowing what it was and I have to say i was somewhat pleasantly surprised. The environment you are in is actually interesting and the narration that plays throughout your experience adds to that. But, I must say, I tried so hard to make sense of the story but I just couldn't do that. If your game is all about enjoying the story, yet the gamer is having a hard time trying to understand it, then you've messed up. The graphics and sounds are decently done, I can't really complain about them. The game length, however, is very, very short. I completed it in less than 1 hour and really have no desire to return to it. With such a short length, and a price tag of $10, it's very difficult to recommend this. There is no interaction with the environment whatsoever and that is something I feel was a mistake. This game could have really benefited from being able to find hidden notes or other items relating to the story throughout the environment. This would have encouraged me to explore my environment more so than I did. This was a promising game that ultimately fell very short of expectations. Hopefully this developer tries making a true interactive experience in the future. Expand
  62. May 14, 2013
    8
    There's not a huge amount to Dear Esther but what there is genuinely touching and positively intriguing. It tells a slow and confusing story and I enjoye trying to piece together the elements as I made my ascent to an equally obscure climax. It's not going to be something for everyone as it lacks what most would consider gameplay elements but it was a game that I enjoyed my time with and that's all I was looking for. Expand
  63. Apr 26, 2013
    1
    This dosen't even deserve to be called a game. It's an hour or so long "game" where all you do is walk on some island and listen to narrator telling an very uninteresting story. If there is one thing i can say good about this game is that it had very nice graphics. But graphics don't make game good. This is something that i assume The Chinese Room didn't understand, and that is why we have this utterly boring game. I am giving it a low score because this is a game i am reviewing, but if this was made for artisic attempt, it would have better score. I am guessing that's why there are so many positive score for this game, because all this people looked at it as an art but not as a game. But i will not go there as developers are saying that this is a game, so i am giving it a low score. Expand
  64. Apr 25, 2013
    8
    A beautiful environment and poetic story, making for an amazing experience. You can't play it just once. It only seems lacking in that you only get to see the one path.
  65. 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
    ultimately, it really is more like a video "museum" and less of a video game. Expand
  66. Apr 6, 2013
    8
    Anyone who goes into this game expecting it to be like any other game is going to be surely disappointed, but I knew what sort of game Dear Esther was and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The pacing is a bit slow, but the overall story is thought provoking and open to interpretation. The landscapes you'll come across are absolutely gorgeous, with the caves section probably being one the most awesome places to play through in any game I've played from a graphical standpoint. Sound design is top quality as well. My recommendation is to research the game first and know whether it suits you or not. If you decide to play through it, wear headphones for a truly immersive experience. Expand
  67. Apr 2, 2013
    8
    Nope. It's not a game. Perhaps it should be listed under movies?

    And yet.... haunting. Strangely disturbing. The music and the ambience create an atmosphere that will immerse your psy and make you wonder. Some of the places you "find" are stunning and at least one scene became my desktop for months. The soundtrack sits as a folder on my desktop and occasionally I play it and relive the
    tale.

    It was cheap. I finished it and I bothered to write this review.

    Must have meant something. Not sure what though...... Still.
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  68. 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
  69. 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.
  70. 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, it's hard to recommend. Expand
  71. Mar 5, 2013
    0
    Honestly, it's not a game. It could easily have been a cut scene or a short movie, but then again you wouldn't get the fan boy defence corps or all that juicy profit if it wasn't sold as a game. The game tells you the story of Esther's husband wandering through a Hebridean island (A thoroughly ugly scene to behold) coming to terms with his wife's death. You are somehow automatically expected to care about the wife or his plight and are subjected to 45 minutes of gripping.... holding down the W button. You walk painfully slowly through the island, often being encouraged to take a wrong turn to try and find additional dialogue. The problem is the dialogue just isn't interesting or rewarding. The whole piece is neither emotionally gripping nor philosophically gripping, so I honestly don't know what it is aiming for.
    What Dear Esther needed was dynamic content and emotion. What it has is neither.
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  72. Mar 1, 2013
    0
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Possibly one of the most lamest games I have ever had the unfortunate displeasure of playing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The game took me about 30 minutes to complete this morning, but now knowing how it works I could probably whizz round that island in about 10-15 minutes.
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  73. 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.
  74. 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
  75. Feb 1, 2013
    1
    I wouldn't even really call this a game. Its just wandering around in some nice graphics with a not so good story line that doesn't really go anywhere.

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

    I play most of the games I have at least twice. But this one I wont go near again as its just a waste of my time.
  76. Jan 29, 2013
    3
    I'm all for stretching the boundaries of what can be considered a "game," and I love games with a emphasis on story. But this game fell flat. The story was uninteresting, the music was forgettable, and the pace was unbearably slow.
  77. Jan 28, 2013
    3
    Oh dear. I "played" (read that as walked) though this game and was left wanting. Although the story itself was compelling enough I felt no connection to it's world as you can't interact with anything at all. It is essentially a walk though some admittedly scenic areas but that's really all there is to this "game". If your in the market for an art game there a lot better titles out there; but if you like waliking about (without leaving home) and listening to an audio book this is you thing. Expand
  78. Jan 15, 2013
    0
    As a mod for a game, this is cute. As it's own game, it's nothing worthwhile. The story could easily have been packed into 20 minutes instead of 60-90 minutes of walking through beautiful, but generally uninteresting terrain.
  79. 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
  80. Jan 1, 2013
    8
    First and foremost, Dear Esther is a game that will cater to a very specific type of gamer, so if you aren't the kind of person that likes walking along a fairly linear path for no reason other than to progress the story (i.e. Final Fantasy without the battle sequences) then chances are you won't like Dear Esther enough to justify the $10 required.

    Dear Esther is quite a change of pace
    in the video game industry, moving the emphasis away from action and twitch gameplay and toward passive narrative and storytelling. Right off the bat you are dropped in a world in which nothing is readily apparent except to just keep exploring, and all the while you hear snippets of dialogue from an unknown source. Throughout the game, these snippets come together to explain the setting and story as well as the significance of the world you are in.

    As far as what makes Dear Esther a good game, I feel like I should point out that it isn't a game as much as it is a narrated benchmark. Interactivity in the game is next to nothing as the only things you as the player are allowed to do is to go from area to linearly-arranged area at a single set speed. The controls are limited to walk (emphasis on "walk") and a slight zoom, and the only real motivation to proceed further into the game is to find the next scripted point in which you are gifted another chunk of dialogue.

    That said, Dear Esther is a remarkable narrative experience. The game is presented in a very poetic and artistic style. The graphics are beautifully presented and the dialogue is well delivered. There's a bunch of places in which cryptic spots of graffiti are splattered onto the wall, adding to the mystery of the world that you are placed into. Also, if you play the game multiple times through, you are given new secrets that explain the story further.

    In conclusion, Dear Esther is a beautiful example of narrative-driven gameplay, although the term "gameplay" is used here very loosely. The lack of any real forms of interaction would seriously challenge anyone's definition of the term "game", and as such it would be a specific demographic of gamer that would appreciate what this game is. At the end of the day, if you were one of the people who only played Diablo III or Mass Effect for the visuals and the storyline, then you wouldn't be amiss giving Dear Esther a go.
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  81. Jan 1, 2013
    3
    This game was quite simply boring and not an "experience" as many call it. Its story isn't bad and the graphics look nice, but aside from those two features the game is no fun. All you are doing is walking around at a slow pace throughout the duration of the game and it is being acclaimed likely because people are attempting to look for something in the game that isn't there. Don't waste your time with this game, it would better be spent playing games that are guaranteed to be fun. Expand
  82. 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
  83. 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
  84. 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 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
  85. Dec 22, 2012
    8
    I won't be discoursing if this IS a game or not, I'll just try to describe my impression. All the thing is about exploring an abandoned island and listening to The Narrators monologues, uncovering pieces of story. You don't need to fight, you don't even need to pick up/collect items. All you can do is go and watch around. The story is pretty abstract and most of it you should think out by yourself (to be honest, I'm not a fan of this kind of stories), so you can get more details by replays (some of the monologue parts are selected randomly) and also you can explore different routes across the island to get some extra ins and food for your thought. So the main things here are the storyline and the atmosphere. The atmosphere is fantastic, the depressive loneliness, feeling loss and unwilling to live. The visuals and locations design are great. And so is the perfect soundtrack (violins, cellos, piano) + The Narrator's voice fits nice. Overall, trying this was an awesome and unique experience and I'll be looking forward to check thechineseroom's new products! Expand
  86. Dec 13, 2012
    1
    Went into this expecting some kind of Myst ripoff and I got an "interactive" movie instead. The narrator speaks cryptically about everything making what little story there is here very convoluted (randomization doesn't help the situation either). Dear Esther functions on intricate set pieces and music to keep your attention away from all the other problems with the game, like the fact it isn't a game. I'd be OK "playing" this if I got it in some Humble Indie Bundle but $10 for a remake of a 1 hour mod using the Source engine is ridiculous. The only reason this game isn't being slammed as being pretentious hipster garbage is because of the subject matter at hand. Otherwise this game would be totally overlooked and reveiled for being what it is: another overpriced, misleading, pretentious "indie" game. Expand
  87. 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). 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.
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  88. Dec 3, 2012
    4
    It's already been noted that Dear Esther isn't really a game as such. That's fine, and I'm actually a bit of a fan of interactive fiction (give Shade or Anchorhead a go sometime) and other 'games' that bend the definition a bit. However, despite the lovely visuals and the neat caving section I can't really recommend it. The prose is florid and purple, and thinks it's a lot more meaningful than it actually is. Despite the ill-considered random allocation of voice clips to each playthrough, the plot is pretty much given away at the start by chemical formulae on walls and overly obvious hints. Interactive fiction is fine, but this is bad fiction. Expand
  89. 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
  90. Nov 22, 2012
    8
    This is a game that solely concentrates on storytelling and beautiful graphics. At first I felt like playing a tech-demo but the story is a puzzle in itself and unfolds as slowly as the pacing of the game is. It is a melancholic and isolated world and the player has to unravel its mystery. Although the publishers state that there is not one story here as the triggered story pieces are randomised, I have figured out a back-story that fits all pieces generated in the game. Still, the narration is not exactly reliable and the confusing bits you learn by and by will keep you thinking, long after your first play-through and the ones that will (probably) follow. I really enjoyed the ambiance of the island and the story becomes quite dramatic towards the end. For me, the experience is definitely worth the price and you should take a look at a trailer or the beginning of a let's play and see if it might be interesting to you. If you like good story-telling, you will not regret buying Dear Esther. Expand
  91. 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.
  92. 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
  93. 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
  94. Oct 16, 2012
    8
    I bought this piece of art based upon it's shining reviews. It is stunningly beautiful to look at and the music is sublime. Why couldn't Skyrim have these deep colours and graphics? I'll be honest, for £6 it's worth the investment. I don't think I'll play it again, but as others have said, it's quite an emotional experience than a game. I felt a little strange after finishing the story.
  95. Oct 16, 2012
    4
    When I pay money for a VIDEOGAME, I expect it to be something I can play. And walking around on an island is not my idea of playing a videogame. The game is visually amazing. Yes. I can agree with that. Paying 10$ to walk around and just watch the environment while a story develops might be appealing for some. It's just not what I expect when I pay money for a game. Yes, Dear Esther is very artistic, but it's not what I call a videogame. Expand
  96. Oct 8, 2012
    8
    Most people wont be able to appreciate this game. Ignore the majority of bad reviews here because most of them are from people who did not understand this game. This is a beautiful game. The visuals are fantastic and the story is very interesting. More or less you make up the story yourself based on details in the game and the narration. This is not a game that has actual gameplay in it. If you don't want a story based game where you basically go through a visual story, don't buy this game and definitely do not review it. The narration can be difficult to piece together and will require a few playthroughs to figure things out. This is a fantastic game and I would recommend it to anyone with the sophistication to appreciate it. It is not meant to be an action filled game, its meant to be a walk through kind of game and it does what it does very well. Expand
  97. Oct 7, 2012
    4
    I bought this game day 1 and found myself regretting dishing out 15 dollars for it. The island is beautiful and very atmospheric, but that's about all. I would have liked to see a little bit more interactivity than holding down the W button for an hour and a half.
  98. Oct 2, 2012
    8
    Even though it's questionable if you can call Dear Esther a game since it's more of an interactive story telling. If you're going in to it expecting it to be a game, you're gonna have a bad time. But if you're going in to it with the expectation of seeing exceptionally beautiful landscapes and and a great narrative, chances are you'll end up loving the game. 8/10
  99. Oct 1, 2012
    5
    While the island you visit is pretty, you
  100. Mar 28, 2012
    0
    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.
    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]