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 $10 this is a fantastic deal. Expand
  2. Feb 19, 2012
    4
    A pretty visual game, but it is 85 minutes of gameplay for 10$. I cannot seem myself walking through that island again. Maybe at 3$ that would not be so bad
  3. Feb 14, 2012
    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
  4. Mar 4, 2012
    6
    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
    1
    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
    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
  7. 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.
  8. Feb 14, 2012
    9
    It would be difficult for me to call this a game in the traditional sense. It is certainly an adventure, and the fragmented, random narration really helps to expand on the very heavy themes found in Dear Esther. I certainly enjoyed it, and would definitely play through multiple times, just to get a better grasp on the big picture that the plot constantly alludes to. That said, the ending is... remarkably intense, and the last action that you take really makes you think. Not enough games are willing to take existentialism and the strangeness of the unknown into their plot, and it definitely pays off in this one. This is the kind of plot that keeps you awake at night, thinking of actions and consequences, as well as how all things must end.

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

    Excellent Game
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  9. Apr 18, 2012
    1
    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
    0
    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
    0
    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
    0
    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
    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
  14. Jul 16, 2012
    0
    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
    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.
  16. Mar 11, 2012
    1
    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
    2
    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
    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.
  19. ktm
    Feb 14, 2012
    10
    Dear Esther is more of a poem about the degradation of the mind, rather then a game. The story offers a engaging story of a man struggling with the death of his love, abandonment, guilt, and his ultimate degradation into insanity at the hands of an unforgiving desolate island. The story is amazing, but so is the beautiful environment. I have never seen a source game (let alone with any game) with such a stunning, visually pleasing environment. The beginning is quite beautiful, but once you hit the caves, you will be taken back by the beauty. All in all I would say this has to be one of my favorite releases in the last two years. I really hope that games like this will make their way to the spotlight.

    What, your still reading. Please go play the game. Really, you won't regret it.
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  20. Mar 5, 2012
    0
    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
    5
    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
    6
    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
    10
    First of all, game or not, this is for sell for a fantastic price. As for the mechanics of the game, there is very little to do in the way of interaction, apart from walk your character around a beautifully graphical island, and immerse yourself in the narrated story that creates an emotional effect as if you were really there. Gazing at the graphics mainly as I wandered around, I found the music to pull me deeper into the story. There are places that are truly amazing, and although some plants do have a 2D effect, they never bothered me at all.

    I would recommend this 'game/narrative story' to anyone wanting to marvel at the capabilities of the source engine a must. Not to mention the ambient sounds and musical score. For the price, it is definately worth buying.
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  24. Jun 18, 2012
    0
    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!
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  25. May 16, 2012
    0
    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
    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.
  27. May 12, 2012
    3
    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
    0
    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
    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
  30. Mar 28, 2012
    10
    Dear Esther was never intended to be like other productions commonly referred to as video games. So it is ridiculous to judge it according to what people think a game should be. There are no real objectives, no obstacles you have to deal with, no challenges (except intellectual ones). I would call it an interactive visual-auditory poem.
    The visuals and sounds and music are astonishing and
    create an atmosphere unlike any I've ever witnessed in a computer game. The story is intriguing; it's certainly very enigmatic and confusing, but this is exactly what makes this game so intellectually engaging. The world around you and the narration are full of complex metaphors, symbols and allusions, and you will discover new facets, new angles to view and interpret the story and the world it creates if you have the patience to play the game a second, or maybe even third time.
    Dear Esther is a successful experiment and a singular experience.
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  31. 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.
  32. 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
  33. 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...
  34. May 2, 2012
    1
    10 dollars for one hour of a game with absolutely no replay value may be worth it, if you really like the story, what you can't tell before you actually finish the game. Still, the game centers itself in two aspects: 1 - Story, 2 - Graphics. The story is nice, sometimes you wish you could just press shift so the character would go a bit faster... The graphical part is really good, if you ignore completely all the plants on the ground. They are all camera-aligned billboards and, as you pass near them, makes the game look synthetic, killing part of the immersion (and immersion is really important to it, more than to most games). In fact, it's not really a game, it's an interactive narrative that is not really interactive at all (sometimes you'll wish you had an auto-walk button or something to keep the W button down). Have to say that the title is pretentious, that's a fact. Expand
  35. 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
  36. Aug 12, 2012
    3
    Regardless of how good the storytelling is, or isn't, 10 USD is way too expensive for an hour of gameplay, let alone non-gameplay. If this is art, I'd rather stick to being an ignorant and uncultured hick.
  37. Mar 2, 2012
    5
    Art = 10/10
    Game = 0/10
    Overall = 5/10
    It's really really nice, but it's also really rally booooring! I almost slept when I was 'playing' this 'game'...
  38. 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
  39. 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
  40. Mar 25, 2012
    9
    The game in Dear Esther is to put the story together, to walk through the character's turmoil and feel his thoughts and memories moving through you. The beauty of Dear Esther is that part of the narrative must come from the player... impressions formed in the art, exploration of the countryside. It is up to you how much of this story you will experience, how far into the depths of its fever-dreams you will wade. Will you struggle to interpret what is scrawled upon the ground, etched into the hills, carved like lines of white chalk that alienate all help even as they cry distress? How much empathy will you feel, and for whom, and what will you make of the person whose voice comes echoing through your head, whispering to you to come back when you wander too far? How will you interpret a world which all at once gives you its narrative and yet leaves you with all the options as to what any of it means? I played Dear Esther with my partner, and I recommend doing that, because we discussed what we saw along the way, reacted to the narrator, and the experience each of us drew from the game was tinted by our own backgrounds, our own points of reference. Where I saw chemistry, she saw art, where I saw delirium, she saw verse. Together we made it something even more-- and when we've had time for the memory to fade, when the chalk lines etched across our brains have grown over and been erased, we'll walk again along that shore and perhaps take a different path, perhaps feel another way, or perhaps relive our first discovery. We will haunt that beach, now and then, and to me, that is enough, especially for the price. But, I cannot give it a perfect score when it is somewhat inaccessible and I wish it would have yielded up just a little bit more. Expand
  41. Feb 14, 2012
    8
    What you get out of this game depends on what you're going in expecting. Personally, I was expecting something along the lines of Amnesia: puzzle solving while unraveling a mysterious story. This is not what Dear Esther is. The simplest way to describe this game is an interactive movie. Not to say that there's something wrong with an interactive movie. The artistic gamers will light up at the mentioning of this game, whereas those who see video games strictly as constant stimulation will feel as though they wasted their money.

    You begin on an unknown island that you must explore. However, there is nothing to do in this game except to press "W" with an occasional "A" and "D" and perhaps an "S" if you're feeling up to it. You follow a linear path with branching paths that all lead to dead ends. This isn't as negative as I make it out to be; the enjoyment you get out of this game depends on how much you're willing to get involved in it. Taking the side paths and listening to the narrator's dialogue you might otherwise miss only adds to the immersion.

    Don't expect a very long experience, either. If you take every possible path and enjoy every scene this game has to offer, you're looking at 1-2 hours. Dear Esther boasts having replayability through the changing dialogue, but the ending and paths you take will be the same, questioning the definition of "replayability".

    Overall, don't expect a game, but rather a story. Setting your own pace and really exploring the island down to every nook-and-cranny will allow for a much better story and deeper immersion, but many will find this to be boring and a waste of time / money.
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  42. 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. Collapse
  43. 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
  44. Sep 4, 2012
    3
    I like it when games dare to be different. I liked Penumbra, and I liked Amnesia even more; those games struck a nice balance with atmosphere and gameplay while being different from almost everything I had played before. This game, however, offers no such balance since it abandoned any semblance of gameplay altogether. It's been said here by other reviewers and I'll say it again, just to reinforce the notion: there is no interactivity to speak of and no real gameplay whatsoever. There are no meaningful choices to make, no consequences, no inventory to manage, no characters to interact with, no enemies to defeat or evade, no objectives to complete; you can't even control when your flashlight turns on and off (this feature is automanaged for you as you enter and leave unlit areas). It is a game that dared to be so different that it actually stopped being a game. Moving on, I don't want to obsess over what Dear Esther IS NOT this whole review, so I will talk about what it IS. As others here have pointed out, it is simply a different way of telling a story... a visual metaphor, if you will. In my opinion, it is an unsuccessful way of telling a story, and I wont be paying for any other "games" that may appear in this "genre". As a game, story, and movie respectively, it was boring and un-entertaining. Dear Esther's soundtrack is quite good, and it is visually is nice to look at, especially in the caves chapter; I will award a couple points for those qualities, even though I want to give it a flat zero. I'll award one more point to the fact that the developers had the balls think out side the box... in fact, they stepped outside the box, picked it up, folded it, put it in the recycle bin, went to the nearest Blockbuster Video and rented What Dreams May Come. So that's it, a generous 3 out of 10. Expand
  45. May 19, 2012
    3
    Very pretty graphics, the sea looks excellent and the mountains are great, if you like graphics then buy this program. The story is weird and interesting but this is NOT a game. It is a walk though a dark and wonderful 3D island, you can't win or lose so no game.
  46. Jul 19, 2012
    0
    "Dear Esther, how horrid you truly are. Like a virtual tour I grew endlessly tired and helpless, evermore hopeless I was. Wanting, dreaming, and then dreading the time would come when I would then see the light~to find no answer; a shadows cast
  47. 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.
  48. Sep 25, 2012
    3
    WARNING! THIS "GAME" IS 20 MINUTES LONG!

    I'd give the score lower were it not for the beautiful graphics. There are SO MANY DAMN BAD THINGS about this game that it's hard to decide where to begin. FIrst of it ISN'T A GAME, there is 0 INTERACTION with everything! No, really! THIS IS A HOLD W (forward) SIMULATOR! The story is really really uninteresting, this game is the equivelent of
    watching a **** film major's indie film that he couldn't get funded so he put it onto a game instead, easy to understand but arrogant and pretentious enough to believe it self to be otherwise, you will simply rather early begin to wonder when will the narrator shut up since you already got the idea of what occur a while back.

    So yeah, if you wanna spend 10 bucks like I did to see nice graphics go ahead or just you know....buy a GAME with good graphics rather than this......thing.
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  49. 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
  50. 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
  51. Jul 18, 2012
    1
    I'm all for great story telling in a game, but this is no game at all. You explore a landscape while being told a story. No puzzles, no combat, no inventory, no jumping. You can't interact with anything. None of the buttons do anything except zoom in (they all zoom in). Occasionally you find a fork in the path you are on and think "Oh man, some semblance of risk/reward" only to find out it's either a dead end or it winds back around to the other path. This is as linear,l and as boring, as a "game" can get.

    I gave it 1 point for the atmosphere and writing.
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  52. 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.
  53. Mar 13, 2012
    1
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This is not a game. A waste of time and money. If you are going to have me push forward for an hour to hear a story then please just put the camera on rails and save me the boring journey. The slow trek up the rocks did feel like passing kidney stones. By the end you just want the guy to jump off the tower to end this miserable experience. The graphics looks great but that's about it. The menu says "Resume Game" What game?? there is no game. Moving a crawling camera through a level with no object interaction and listen to a block of text every now and then is NOT a game. Expand
  54. May 16, 2012
    9
    I absolutely love Dear Esther. I've waited a long time for something like it to come along. Having created game levels in the Source engine myself its clear how much care and attention went into creating the environment, I'm sincerely impressed by what the developers have been able to build. The visuals are simply stunning and the eerie soundscape is wonderful too.

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

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

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

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

    If you're someone who likes Iain Banks, 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', Wes Anderson films, Sigur Ros, Laura Marling or Lisa Hannigan, I think you'll enjoy Dear Esther.
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  55. Jul 16, 2012
    1
    How the hell do they get away with charging money for this piece of trash? This is not a game, there are no gameplay elements WHATSOEVER. You literally can't interact with ANYTHING in this game. There's hardly anything in the game, I beat it it under an hour (or finished it I should say, like I said there are no gameplay elements whatsoever). Apparently there is supposed to be a story here but it's so unintelligible that by the end you'll be left scratching your head as to why you wasted all this time thinking the story would tie together somehow.

    The creator of this game must think he's a real Stanley Kubrick, but in the end it just reaks of Uwe Bol. Trash trash trash... just utter trash, don't waste your money on this. It's not even a good looking game, the island is bland as hell and aside from a grant total of 3 or 4 structures and some meaningless paintings on the walls every now and then - the level design is literally just bland rock. The only reason I even give it a 1 and not a 0 is because I guess at least they spent a long time building their boring bland island, and I suppose there were 1 or 2 views that looked decent. In the end though avoid this game like the plague, it isn't even a game, nor is it art. It's utter **** seriously **** this bull**** I expected more from a game receiving such good ratings, you all make me sick.
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  56. Aug 12, 2012
    2
    First things first, this is not a game. By it's own admission, it is more an experiment of narrative in the game medium. It fails, in my estimation, a failed experiment. If you've played the free "Stanley Parable" mod for Half-Life 2, you will have at least an inkling of what kind of template Dear Esther uses (though clearly, the former is more lighthearted than the latter). Let's throw some complements about this title out there first. It does have some nice graphics and the environmental design is striking at times and...umm...well, I'm sadly out of good things to say. The next nicest thing I have to say is at least it only lasts about an hour. You start the game with no idea how or why you are there, nor any instructions. So, inevitably you begin to walk around. And I hope you enjoy walking around, because that is the only action that you, as the player, get to do. As you amble onward, every 5 or so minutes the game spits a bit narrative at you. Unlike the Stanley Parable, none of Dear Esther is particularly interesting or well written, and it most definitely isn't cohesive. I believe that lack of cohesion was done unwittingly, rather it was used as a mechanic by the game's designers to give the paper thin prose an air of mystery...being obtuse makes things hard to understand and, when done right, makes you work to follow the thread and give you a sense of accomplishment or reward once you start piecing things together. Problem being on this breadcrumb laden story's path, there is no thread. You come across bits of narrative slowly (and I do mean slowly - you walk at the pace of a geriatric snail, mash the Shift key all you'd like), and over time you realize none of them really connect. There is just random narrative, islands of text that refuse to work together in harmony to create an overarching story. Little things that do start to have any kind of meaning or interest or appear to be revealed in interesting ways end up being things that are already explained to you in the synopsis of the game. If you want a mild surprise, read as little about this game as you can - including, and especially, it's own synopsis. In the end, you might as well just fire up Skyrim, start wandering aimlessly, and play a 15 second clip from a different book-on-tape every 5 or so minutes. It'll be just as interesting. All I can say is I'm glad I was able to get the game on sale for $1.39. Expand
  57. Apr 19, 2012
    0
    This is not really a game when you remove the traditional gameplay style. Besides the boring storytelling, decent music and good graphics of the Source Engine, this HL2 mod turning into an Indie as a remake should have been a computer-graphic movie instead on YouTube rather than playing through it. Therefore it's not worth the money and the playing time.
  58. 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
  59. Apr 11, 2012
    3
    This isn't really a game. The only upside of this title are the graphics (great use of a old engine), and supposedly it's history, which I didn't bother to hear because the "game" itself is sooooo boring.
  60. 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.
  61. Apr 1, 2012
    0
    I'm writing this as a warning for people not to waste their money thinking this is a game. It shouldn't be marketed or sold as a game. Steam don't give refunds (which is outrageous in my opinion. They wouldn't get away with it in any other industry) so don't waste your money. All you do is just wander around. There's nothing to do or any way to interact. Yes the graphics are fantastic and the music atmospheric but what's the point? I can't give this any score at all because it's just a graphic showcase. I can't think I've ever been so bored. Watch tv if you want something that you can only look at at and not interact with at all. Avoid at all costs because charging money for this is an outrageous rip off. Expand
  62. 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
  63. Apr 28, 2012
    0
    This is a poor excuse for a game. It simply isn't interesting to play and is just simply boring. This is not my type of game. The idea of listening to some boring English guy drone on about crap could put my in a coma. I do not like this game. I simply hate it.
  64. 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
  65. May 3, 2012
    1
    Here is my detailed guide to Dear Esther. Hold W and guide your character with the mouse. That is the limit of interaction Dear Esther offers. Along the way there are segments of a story which reveals itself as you progress through the island. This is in no way a game and I would not recommend it at even 10 notes.
  66. 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
  67. 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!
  68. May 18, 2012
    6
    This game is boring. That's it. It is fun though, the music, athmosphere and graphics are just awesome, but the only thing you do is: walk. walk. walk. And walk. I thought the game would be something like Myst, but i was disappointed, and ended with a black screen, after playing 2 hours. If i had had _some_ challenge, like discovering a giant secret story, or having at least some interactive elements, the game would be MUCH better. Expand
  69. Apr 1, 2012
    7
    Stunning visuals, but not interactive. The only controls the player has access to are movement, and looking closer at things. I really would not consider this a game, so much as a visual narrative. That being said, I enjoyed the play-through and piecing together the bits that Dear Esther gives the user. It does a good job of making the player feel desolate through environment and quality sound effects. If you are brand new to Dear Esther it's a nice change of pace from normal games, but if you've played the original source mod, I would not spend the $10 on it. Expand
  70. May 6, 2012
    0
    This is not a game its a CGI video of the Hibredian islands I know its £6 or so on steam but save your money go on youtube and look at the vista's on there it will have more gameplay than this
  71. 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
  72. May 16, 2012
    0
    Where is the game here? Interactivity ends and begins with movement and observation. This is not the problem in itself; what is: the sum of all possibilities effected by this mode of "interaction" amount to no more than a monologue being regurgitated piecemeal. There's no problem with this not being a game - just that it is marketed (and priced) as one. Wandering around an environment with a couple of audio tracks does not constitute a game. End. Expand
  73. 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.
  74. Jun 5, 2012
    0
    To score this game even 0.01 would be generous. A game that is not a game, is not a game! If I wanted to walk round listening to an old man talk about a crash on a motorway that may or may not have happened, I would go to the local old folks home. I feel totally robbed. Does the graphics designer wear a mask? What is relaxing about having a headache whilst trying to figure out what this tack is all about? £6 my left arm. Rubbish. Expand
  75. Jul 16, 2012
    1
    I'll give this game a 1, on the principle that it tries to do something different, it is visually stunning, and its got a great soundtrack. All of that, ups it to a 1. It is possibly one of the worst PC experiences I have ever had. Look at the screen shots and put on some classical over ocean sounds in the background and you've played the game. Don't waste even $1 on this game. I would not be nearly as upset if this game was touted as including "Exploration" and "Adventure" there is nothing. It is a straight line experience with zero interactivity. Art hanging on a wall is more enticing and engaging then this piece. Do NOT buy this "game".

    Honestly I'm considering not buying any game that gets recommended to me if I "Liked" this game. I would not trust their content at all.
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  76. Jul 22, 2012
    0
    The zero was for the sole purpose to bring down Dear Esther's score. I knew it was not a game and that it has no gameplay. But I thought I should give a try 'cause there are plenty of positive review.
    Somebody said it is a piece of work. A pile of crap would be the most accurate definition.
    You wander two hours on a very beautiful island, guided by an high quality atmosphere blending
    soundtrack. The purpose of Dear Esther is telling a good story in a different way. Unluckily, the story is crap. Random monologues, representing character letter to a dead girl are heard from time to time. The fact is, they don't make sense. And the story, if there's one behind this letters, is a crappy pile of cliches.
    As many suggested, a short film would have made more sense. If I knew, I would have refused Dear Esther even if it was for free. There are tons of things you could enjoy more, including being raped by a gorilla.
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  77. 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
  78. Mar 7, 2012
    10
    An incredibly beautiful and fascinating "game" with deep story and the brilliant music. It is not a game, actually, it is a wonderful prose poem, the unbelievable experience. It is a very rare piece of art in our times.
  79. Feb 16, 2012
    9
    Absolutely brilliant. Very poetic, relaxing and beautifully enjoyable experience.
    Dear Esther is a interactive story driven game where you explore an island while you listen a story. The sounds, music and graphics, everything makes this game so artistically wonderful.
    The bad thing is that it is a bit short. However, i'm looking forward to see additional content and new stories. I would
    gladly pay for more content in this game. Expand
  80. Mar 8, 2012
    10
    Play Dear Esther in a dark room, headphones on, no distractions, and subtitles turned off. Dear Esther is a broadly magnificent and genuinely moving experience, and that was almost entirely on a sensory level. Playing the game on ultra, I've never seen something this beautiful before. Not even the great BF3 on ultra can't compare itself to this island. Deciphering the plot â
  81. May 19, 2012
    4
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This game is visually beautiful, audibly intriguing yet because of the content of the story I find it actually let me down like a falling stone. This contains spoilers so stop reading NOW! Due to the fact that I have actually experienced a "suicide" personally pretty recently in my "own" family, I see absolutely no value on the subject of death for "entertainment's" sake. But rather it's a harsh reality that we all have to succumb to one day, in our own lives. Because life is already very difficult at times, it sincerely pissed me off to see me investing 3-5 hours of my own life's time, to see the outcome of some unfortunate soul commit such a tragedy at the end of this short story. I will share a pure truth with anyone that's just curious enough to ponder suicide. I personally feel that if you are "brave" enough to end your own life? Then you are "brave" enough to face any problem that comes your way. And in closing, this game really made me furious when they tried to "incorporate" Christianity within the madness of this story. Trying to fuse the logic of ending one's life, to make it just ok with God that's I "offed" myself? Doubtful...very doubtful...It had a lot more promise, yet miserably failed with such a bad ending. Expand
  82. Feb 20, 2012
    10
    If you are a David Lynch fan(as i am), then you would love this "game" To call it a game is very inaccurate. It is an emotional, atmospheric, story telling experience. Its a very alien experience in the sense that it will make you feel odd sensations and emotions you never even knew about. You'll never expect what you must do to keep moving on in your journey. Definitely the most unique title I've ever played. Expand
  83. Feb 20, 2012
    9
    A new medium for story telling, the story consists of diary entries and narration that serve the explorable world. The graphics are spectacular, and help aid the story by being relevant to your immediate surroundings or places you soon encounter. It's very original idea to use computer game graphics to serve a story while allowing the audience general interaction while it's taking place. Like a picture book on steroids, this new approach to story telling should certainly be expanded in the future. At $10, it's the price of the usual paperback and delivers a unique experience that's well worth the money. Expand
  84. Feb 19, 2012
    9
    A very... different experience. I really enjoyed it over all. Simple and minimalist can be a good thing, and it certainly is here. Not a hack and slash in any way, very much a contemplative game. Finished it in two hours, but it was well worth my $10. Very sad, but in the end it seems hopeful, maybe because I am optimistic at heart. It's all so left up to the player.
  85. Mar 1, 2012
    10
    Easily the very best game that I have played for years. The level design is first rate, as are the superb graphics and sound and incredibly immersive atmosphere. They story-telling is excellent - it gives you enough to get an idea of what is going on, yet doesn't spoon feed you. Multiple playthroughs will reward you with more narrative clips and different objects to see. It's a game that rewards patience, open-mindedness and imagination - those who only like to play shooters should avoid this, unless you feel like trying something very different. Dear Esther gets an easy 100% from me. Expand
  86. Mar 7, 2012
    10
    It is what it is. A short semi-interactive story. If you're looking for more in a "game" then it's not for you but if you accept what this is then you'll love it. It's beautiful, emotional and best enjoyed with a good alcoholic beverage. 10/10 and hoping to see more.
  87. Mar 8, 2012
    10
    This game is simply pure art. Something between good movie, game and book. Or combination of them all. I really experienced island and was there with main character, deep inside his mind. Ending is very sentimental. I can only hope there will be more games ( or what ever it is ) like this one.
  88. Mar 24, 2012
    10
    definitely not for everyone. It was willing to take the chance in creating sheer atmosphere and speculation for the audience.

    It's not at all like conventional games, for better or for worse. Despite the short length its production value (graphics, sound) is quite high. I personally liked it so I'm giving it a 10, that is, however, purely subjective and should only be taken as such
  89. Apr 28, 2012
    1
    Dear Esther is not a game.

    If it is anything, it is an art piece. However, the developers have billed it as a game, and this is a title it fails utterly to live up to. Artistic as it may be, and Dear Esther is certainly beautiful, only by the most loose of definitions can it ever be called a game. Simply put, it is missing any element that would qualify it as one.

    In games, there is a
    challenge. In games, your choices and actions have an effect on the outcome. In games, there is the possibility of success or failure. However, in Dear Esther, there is only observation. You walk through a world that you have no influence over, an audience rather than a player. Nothing you do will have any influence on the story. In fact, there is nothing you can do. You walk. You observe. You listen. The story is spoon-fed to you, but without context and requiring your own interpretation.

    In essence, Dear Esther bares more in common to a painting than a videogame. Look at it from any angle you like. Take as long as you want to study it, or see it all quickly. These are the kinds of choices that Dear Esther offers. It invites you to admire its beauty...to look but not touch. The result is a very moving experience, but not a very entertaining one. It feels very much like seeing an exhibit in a museum. Indeed, artistically it is excellent. However, as I said at the beginning, Dear Esther is presented as being a game, and it is nothing of the kind. It must be scored as a game, and not as art.

    Dear Esther is not a game.
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  90. 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.
  91. Aug 12, 2012
    9
    I agree with others that calling Dear Esther a "game" is a mistake. I am also not convinced that it is well described as an "interactive story" either, as the level of interaction is quite minimal. You can control how quickly you move through the space, and to some degree in what order the story elements are revealed, but ultimately the path and the story are unalterable. It's a poetic short story. The fact that it was created and delivered using the tools of game creation and distribution have created some confusion on the user end.

    I very much like Dear Ester. When playing a FPS I will often clear a level of monsters and enemies so I can spend some time just wandering around and explore the environment, looking at the details. My only disappointment with Esther came when it ended. I wanted more.
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  92. 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
  93. 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
  94. Mar 3, 2012
    6
    I respect the artistic merits of this 'game.' I do. But let's be honest, this is slightly interactive fiction. It's an amusement park ride, albeit a tepid one. I recognize I am not the target user of this game, and that's fine.
  95. Oct 1, 2012
    5
    While the island you visit is pretty, you
  96. 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
  97. 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
  98. 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.
  99. Feb 17, 2012
    7
    An incredibly beautiful 'game'. The art style and aesthetics are, perhaps, the best that I've seen so far. Dear Esther really manage to capture the subtleties of nature in their graphical style. Are rare feet indeed.

    Combine that with a fantastic voice acting and music, and you've got a emotionally moving story, which brilliance is that it doesn't tell you much. That is the very genius of
    this game.

    A word of warning though. This is not your ordinary game, there is no interaction other than controlling the camera and movement. There are no objectives and nothing of the sort. It's a story.
    Expand
  100. Feb 26, 2012
    10
    Flawless. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  101. Mar 15, 2012
    0
    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. 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]