User Score
6.5

Mixed or average reviews- based on 584 Ratings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    If you're someone who likes Iain Banks, 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', Wes Anderson films, Sigur Ros, Laura Marling or Lisa Hannigan, I think you'll enjoy Dear Esther.
    Expand
  24. Koo
    Apr 21, 2012
    9
    I won't re-hash what others have said RE: Dear Esther. How you experience the game will be unique to you. What I CAN say is that for myself, Dear Esther has been an experience like no other: I found it calming, soothing and quiet - the perfect alternative to first-person shooters and other violent computer games. If you're willing to keep an open mind about what a PC game "should" be, and you want to unwind, I recommend Dear Esther. Expand
  25. Mar 4, 2012
    10
    Dear esther puts you into a beautifully crafted world, the attention to detail is just excellent. Its one of the few games that ive played where it just leaves you sitting there wondering what just happened. The visuals, music and dialogue are all incredible and are weaved into the game perfectly.
  26. Feb 23, 2012
    10
    If you take the discussion about "is this a game or what is it?" aside, this mod is what brings once again an inventive way of using game engines to another level! If people were to search and experience the limitation from the Source Engine (even the Portal version), you could not say this was made on an 'old' engine, pre-made brushes and whatever. If there were people to come close to this level of world design, I would like to see it. Regardless of the facts, the poetry, voice, story, atmosphere and visual content expands our imaginations and possibilities, being a mod that can now motivate other players to start on the Source Engine, and perhaps make a game, mod similar to this or something totally different, but on the same level. If I were to say it, Dear Esther deserves a 10/10 just because of all those reasons. If I could meet Robert Briscoe ever, I would be honoured! Expand
  27. Feb 16, 2012
    10
    This game exudes polish. it is so organically presented and real attention was paid to color palettes, voice-over work and timing. its a gorgeous game that tells a cryptic yet emotional tale. it's a shame that it only takes an hour and a half to experience it, but i see it as a massive step in the right direction for games being finally taken seriously as an artistic medium. you don't have to solve puzzles to get past a door, but to understand the story better you have to look and really listen. it is an interesting gameplay mechanic, i am guessing the drawing board in their offices said "look, this is a story, but we're gonna tell it in a way that television, movies, books, paintings and photographs (and other games for that matter) have never been able to do." that is an achievement. Expand
  28. Feb 16, 2012
    10
    This game certainly was very different to most games of our time, I first saw it on steam and it looked pretty interesting so I looked at a review for it, instantly fell in love with the idea and bought it. In total I was able to put in about 80 minutes of game play by straight out playing it from beginning to end, I was not disappointed even by the shortness of the game. For a £7 price tag (UK currency) it was defiantly a treat, re imagining the idea of what games can do. The dialogue is extremely poetic and interesting and at first you will have no real idea what the protagonist is talking about, but as you walk around the island you will start seeing signs of things as the dialogue becomes more and more obvious. Once you get into the game it also becomes very eerie and creepy. This game is nothing short of a ghost story and it represents that perfectly, I swear I saw a man carrying a lantern off in a cave this one time I was looking around the island. As the game got to the conclusion I was so gripped I had to go on, ignoring my friends talking to me over steam. This game was an incredible experience for me and for gamers who do not mind and enjoy story and dialogue more than actual interaction with the game world. I only wish now that the developers would make a sequel or a similar game. Expand
  29. Feb 24, 2012
    9
    It is just a beautiful game. It redefines how we play video games today..... a MUST HAVE. It has amazing graphics. And it's really for anyone. It's just such a smart game. You can play it over and over and over again. It never gets old. I just love it!
  30. May 18, 2012
    9
    Dear Esther is a thrill ride, brilliant in the way it immerses the player without having to interact in any way with the environment (which btw is stunning) other then movement. One of the best indie titles ive had the joy of playing and sooo worth my £3.75 on steam
  31. Mar 25, 2012
    0
    The game in Dear Esther is to put the story together, to walk through the character's turmoil and feel his thoughts and memories moving through you. The beauty of Dear Esther is that part of the narrative must come from the player... impressions formed in the art, exploration of the countryside. It is up to you how much of this story you will experience, how far into the depths of its fever-dreams you will wade. Will you struggle to interpret what is scrawled upon the ground, etched into the hills, carved like lines of white chalk that alienate all help even as they cry distress? How much empathy will you feel, and for whom, and what will you make of the person whose voice comes echoing through your head, whispering to you to come back when you wander too far? How will you interpret a world which all at once gives you its narrative and yet leaves you with all the options as to what any of it means? I played Dear Esther with my partner, and I recommend doing that, because we discussed what we saw along the way, reacted to the narrator, and the experience each of us drew from the game was tinted by our own backgrounds, our own points of reference. Where I saw chemistry, she saw art, where I saw delirium, she saw verse. Together we made it something even more-- and when we've had time for the memory to fade, when the chalk lines etched across our brains have grown over and been erased, we'll walk again along that shore and perhaps take a different path, perhaps feel another way, or perhaps relive our first discovery. We will haunt that beach, now and then, and to me, that is enough, especially for the price. But, I cannot give it a perfect score when it is somewhat inaccessible and I wish it would have yielded up just a little bit more. 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]