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Mixed or average reviews- based on 543 Ratings

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  1. Feb 16, 2012
    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.
  2. Feb 26, 2012
    Flawless. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  3. Koo
    Apr 21, 2012
    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
  4. Feb 15, 2012
    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
  5. Feb 17, 2012
    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
  6. Jul 7, 2012
    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
  7. Jul 14, 2012
    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.
  8. Mar 7, 2012
    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.
  9. Mar 4, 2012
    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.
  10. Feb 26, 2012
    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
  11. Mar 6, 2012
    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.
  12. Feb 15, 2012
    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
  13. Feb 16, 2012
    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
  14. May 23, 2012
    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
  15. Feb 14, 2012
    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.
  16. Sep 26, 2013
    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
  17. Mar 8, 2012
    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
  18. Mar 5, 2012
    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
  19. Feb 21, 2012
    Dear Esther marked the beginning of a new genre in games. Half - interactive trip with meditation elements. Example of how far can a fantasy authors who do not need to look at the gameplay. I think this is a qualitatively new stage in the establishment of games as art.
  20. Feb 20, 2012
    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
  21. Feb 14, 2012
    This remake looks better than older but this is mod for half life you have to half life 2 and thats bad for someone
  22. Dec 2, 2012
    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
  23. Feb 18, 2012
    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.
  24. Feb 23, 2012
    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
  25. Jun 4, 2012
    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.
  26. Mar 28, 2012
    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.
  27. Feb 17, 2014
    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.
  28. Feb 15, 2012
    '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.
  29. Feb 16, 2012
    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
  30. Feb 20, 2012
    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

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 37
  2. Negative: 3 out of 37
  1. Jan 10, 2013
    With no story or true narrative to latch onto, there's no reason for players to care about what's going on. And there's only one thing ever going on in Dear Esther: nothing. Broken up into individual pieces-the graphics, writing, and music clearly show talent and might have led to interesting stories or games-but together they form a dull, lifeless experience that's quickly forgotten.
  2. 50
    To call this piece "a game" and rate it as an ordinary game is not fair. You can find many flaws in the game's mechanics but if you just follow the story your experience will be unforgettable. [Apr 2012]
  3. Mar 13, 2012
    Thechineseroom studio managed to create something surprising and original, but Dear Esther is something you experience rather than play. [April 2012, p.79]