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Mixed or average reviews- based on 542 Ratings

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  1. Feb 14, 2012
    To call this a game would be almost entirely inaccurate. This piece is better described as an interactive fiction narrative. The only game play mechanic in this work is to guide your character through the story. However, what makes this piece of work interesting and outstanding is the atmosphere that is created through the narrator's speech, the beautiful graphics, perfect music score, and amazing ambient sound. This is an experience that no one should pass up, my first play-through took up a little over 2 hours of my time; for $10 this is a fantastic deal. Expand
  2. Feb 19, 2012
    A pretty visual game, but it is 85 minutes of gameplay for 10$. I cannot seem myself walking through that island again. Maybe at 3$ that would not be so bad
  3. Feb 14, 2012
    Originally a mod for Half-Life 2, this remake is very different from what you might expect a game to be.
    Calling it an interactive story would be more accurate. There is no "action", no real items or objectives, you just explore the island while a narrator tells you a story. It is certainly not for everyone, but for people that are looking for an experience rather than a game I would
    highly recommend it. The visuals and soundtrack are breathtaking, the narrator does an excellent job, and the atmosphere in general is amazing. If you are looking for something different and have the time and patience to immerse yourself into it, this game will provide you with an unforgettable experience. Expand
  4. Mar 4, 2012
    I liked it but it just didn't make me feel like a part of the story, it felt more like walking a guided tour. I like games with a good story but this is more like an interactive picture book. Exploration is hardly awarded with extra depth in the story and it takes far to long to walk back to the right path however there are some very nice places to see. One more minor thing that annoyed me were the plants, because once you notice they keep staring at you it can't be unseen. Because they are 2d and thus have no sides it makes sense that they did it this way but it still feels a bit awkward. In conclusion I'd say that this is a pretty good story but I don't think it should be placed in the game category. If it wasn't marked as a game I would definitely have rated it with an 8 or more. But if I had to recommend a storytelling game that actually feels like your part of the story I would pick either Amnesia, Penumbra or Bastion these are all completely different game as well from each other as from Dear Esther but the thing they all have in common is that they are all heavily based on their story however my examples are far more interactive. Expand
  5. Mar 7, 2012
    i got this game the day it was released on steam, and about an hour after i was left more puzzled than anything the game had offered. it wasn't due to the story, or not being capable of deep thought. some of my favorite films are from the likes of tarkovsky (where the stalker game came from), jodorowski, and have a love of art, literature and all things strange, minimal etc. as my user name would imply i've played games of every genre since DOS. point and click adventures and so on. something like dark seed, or the path is really more reminiscent of what i had hoped for. dear esther just kind of tells you a story for an hour. at the end, i had no desire to replay it, and was left wondering if the money invested went to licensing fee's to pay for the music and narration. a few things change places, and a bit of the dialog is mixed up in replays. there's absolutely no puzzles, or interactivity other than listening watching and holding forward. upon sharing these thoughts on a forum like steam, you're immediately clawed at by a relentless army of fanboys who must have skipped over the last 20 years of PC gaming. to some this game is probably a great breakthrough, but alas i felt like it would have been great only if it were the prologue to an actual game. overall the experience was very negative to me, i felt like this should have been half price at the MOST, if not free. to top it off i was in disbelief that news dropped saying they made back all their investment, in a matter of hours after release. i guess this is why we are getting video games that could have been so much more these days. because most of them are just cash in's. they see a marketable area and go for it, inevitably enough people will buy any game that didn't cost a million bucks to produce and make it profitable. Expand
  6. Feb 15, 2012
    I'm not exactly sure what I just played, but it was one of the most beautiful things that I have ever experienced. Dear Esther is something of a new genre of game, all to itself. It's more of an artistic expression coupled with minor interactivity and a frighteningly poetic story. As an advocate for games as art, this is my new "exhibit A". The visuals, the weather, the sounds, the music, and the narration all came together to give me an experience that was as immerse and gratifying as the best of more hardcore genres. I am personally terrified of heights, and there were certain moments in this game that put that fear into practice for me, and most games don't do that. It was a unique journey and I know that I will play it again someday, and again after that. But I don't know when. I'll have to let it simmer in my mind for awhile. Expand
  7. 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.
  8. Feb 14, 2012
    It would be difficult for me to call this a game in the traditional sense. It is certainly an adventure, and the fragmented, random narration really helps to expand on the very heavy themes found in Dear Esther. I certainly enjoyed it, and would definitely play through multiple times, just to get a better grasp on the big picture that the plot constantly alludes to. That said, the ending is... remarkably intense, and the last action that you take really makes you think. Not enough games are willing to take existentialism and the strangeness of the unknown into their plot, and it definitely pays off in this one. This is the kind of plot that keeps you awake at night, thinking of actions and consequences, as well as how all things must end.

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

    Excellent Game
  9. Apr 18, 2012
    This is not a game. It is a story, that's it. Nothing more than a story, where you can walk around. It doesn't have anything else but the walking and the story. I don't think that this should be marked as a game, since this simply isn't a game.
  10. Feb 18, 2012
    To each their own I guess. Dear Ester is not a game. At best it is an interactive movie. In reality it is one of the 1990 Multimedia scenery viewers. This "game" has been horribly mislabeled and advertised.
  11. Jun 3, 2012
    Horribly boring. I based my decision only because the reviews were ravingly good. Even the ratings were in the upper 80s. I will never base my choices on that again. I will from now on, download demos and see for myself.
  12. Mar 12, 2012
    A lot of people tend to try and justify the purchase of something that they cannot return. It's quite sad that people, held hostage by their own denial, have mistaken holding forward for gameplay and 'listless' narrative for a storyline. Sure, it has graphics, but every game has graphics. In fact, lots of films have graphics and some books have pictures in them too. And I think a film or graphic novel would be an infinitely more rewarding experience than this 45 minute "game", for the same price. Don't buy this. Expand
  13. 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
  14. Jul 16, 2012
    this is really not a game. there is not gameplay to be had. no exploring to do. in fact you really dont do anything. you just walk in a straight line from point a to point b. then its over. took me about 10 minutes to beat the "game". there is no content. no story. nothing.

    really poor.
  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. Mar 11, 2012
    Dear Esther, What a complete and total waste of time and money you were. You thieving bastard give me back my money and 60 minutes of my life. I recommend staying away from this boring, slow moving, poor graphic motion picture.
  17. Jul 16, 2012
    I picked this game up in the Steam Summer Sale on July 16th. People complain about video games becoming movies, then talk about this game as if it is something unique or game changing. This game is an interactive island walking simulator that tells you bits of story every now. The people telling you that it is an "interactive fiction narrative" or "interactive story" are misleading you. It is no more an interactive story than a book is an interactive story. The story is partially randomized at the very start of the game and it is set in stone at that point. You must then walk through the island, discovering fragments of the story, and have the game tell the story to you. There is nothing intellectual, artsy, or deep about this game. The game is stunningly lackluster in everything that makes it a game. This game comes across as being made by a company that wanted to do a 1 hour cinematic, but knew that moviegoers wouldn't care for this narcissistic, pretentious drivel. Expand
  18. Feb 14, 2012
    Simply amazing , the incredible atmosphere in this game is worth it's price alone , the environments are gorgeous , the ambient sounds are perfectly done , this is easily the best looking and atmospheric game i have ever played , hopefully these guys will make a bigger game with more than just exploration.
  19. ktm
    Feb 14, 2012
    Dear Esther is more of a poem about the degradation of the mind, rather then a game. The story offers a engaging story of a man struggling with the death of his love, abandonment, guilt, and his ultimate degradation into insanity at the hands of an unforgiving desolate island. The story is amazing, but so is the beautiful environment. I have never seen a source game (let alone with any game) with such a stunning, visually pleasing environment. The beginning is quite beautiful, but once you hit the caves, you will be taken back by the beauty. All in all I would say this has to be one of my favorite releases in the last two years. I really hope that games like this will make their way to the spotlight.

    What, your still reading. Please go play the game. Really, you won't regret it.
  20. Mar 5, 2012
    Wasn't sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a waste of ten good dollars. You roam around this island with basically the same type of background replicated repeatedly.. There seems to be no point to any of it. The cave is an endless maze of similar background where the most exciting thing are mushrooms that turn toward you as you move. I want my money back, this game was disappointing..
  21. Feb 15, 2012
    Poetic to say the least. Don't buy it if you don't like story driven games. In fact, I'm not sure I would even call this a game. It's definitely art though. Beautiful for a source game. Pretty music. Makes you think for a little bit. The reason I gave it a 5 is because it left me extremely empty after I completed it. While I understand the story, there is no real resolution. Oh, spoilers or whatever. All in all I felt like this was strictly eye candy with a story. Nothing more, nothing less. I don't necessarily regret spending money on it.... but you know.. RESOLUTION NEXT TIME? Expand
  22. Mar 14, 2012
    Dear Esther is a somewhat beautiful, somewhat tepid mixture of "doomed romance" and Ballardian psychology. That is, the island appears to be a representation of masculine Inner Space, haunted by loverghosts and cryptic prose. Cool. But the developers never push the human element or the weirdness far enough, leaving us with a lavishly detailed but paradoxically empty experience.
  23. May 16, 2012
    First of all, game or not, this is for sell for a fantastic price. As for the mechanics of the game, there is very little to do in the way of interaction, apart from walk your character around a beautifully graphical island, and immerse yourself in the narrated story that creates an emotional effect as if you were really there. Gazing at the graphics mainly as I wandered around, I found the music to pull me deeper into the story. There are places that are truly amazing, and although some plants do have a 2D effect, they never bothered me at all.

    I would recommend this 'game/narrative story' to anyone wanting to marvel at the capabilities of the source engine a must. Not to mention the ambient sounds and musical score. For the price, it is definately worth buying.
  24. Jun 18, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This "game" is pathetic and horribly disappointing. I'm very much looking forward to the sequel to Amnesia by thechineseroom, so I decided to play this first. Sadly, it was terrible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I wouldn't call this a game at all. And people giving this a 10 are probably out of their minds. If
    this is a 10, then what would you put on Amnesia? 310? Expand
  28. Mar 9, 2012
    Since we are reviewing games here i give this 3d show reel a 0/10. And to kids the only piece of art they've seen is located in a bathroom saying this is art, replicating reality with photo-realism and nothing else in mind is not ART, it's just mere artisan's work, and not even the best attempt at. The narration is even worse than the visuals, enough said.
  29. 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
  30. 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.

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]