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75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics What's this?

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6.5

Mixed or average reviews- based on 584 Ratings

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  • Summary: Dear Esther is a first-person ghost story. Rather than traditional game-play the focus here is on exploration, uncovering the mystery of a lonely island, of who you are and why you are here. Fragments of story are randomly uncovered when exploring the various locations of the island, making every each journey a unique experience. Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 37
  2. Negative: 3 out of 37
  1. Mar 9, 2012
    100
    Dear Esther is an auditory and visual experience that interweaves a consuming narrative and array of emotions. The game's actual value must not be solely based upon its gameplay length, but rather on the random elements and new secrets discovered through multiple playthroughs. Those that brave the journey into the narrative and world of Dear Esther will discover an experience that few games have been available to accomplish in years. Highly recommended.
  2. Feb 13, 2012
    90
    The beauty of Dear Esther is that it raises questions about content rather than mechanics.
  3. Feb 16, 2012
    90
    Dear Esther. I will take flight.
  4. Feb 13, 2012
    80
    The game is recommended for anyone who likes taking a close look at a piece of art that goes against the grain of the medium. You should consider checking out Dear Esther the same way you'd appraise a film. If you're interested in absorbing an intellectual story and gorgeous visuals without having to exert a drop of effort, take a chance on this curious experiment.
  5. Feb 20, 2012
    80
    If you're into the idea of experimental "games" pushing the boundaries of the medium, you might like Dear Esther, but if you're looking for a detailed story of Event A causing Event B which then naturally led to Event C, then this is not for you.
  6. Feb 29, 2012
    77
    Play this just for yourself and try to see where things might go from here. The possibilities are endless and almost completely unexplored.
  7. 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.

See all 37 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 84 out of 231
  1. Jul 18, 2012
    10
    This game is beautiful. I have never written a review before and created a metacritic account specifically to say how wonderful this game is. It made me smile at how stunning and ethereal some of it is, it made me sad, it made me a little scared in places, it even made me shiver while sitting in a warm room because the mist blowing off the sea is so effective. I played through this in one sitting and I am glad for the experience. It's important not to go into the game expecting the usual fare, it's a very passive experience. Having said that the game does reward players partaking in the small amount of exploration available. As a gamer I think we need more of this. A game made out of love, with attention to detail and not to a financial bottom line. Game designers have a duty to make good games, true, but game players also have a duty: to support pieces like this when they come along and reward them like they deserve. If your looking for a unique experience that is a far cry from the usual FPS on rails shooter then I cannot recommend this game highly enough. Incredible Expand
  2. Dec 2, 2012
    10
    Great interactive story. Be ready that you won't get a game, but you'll get a story. Story is just clear to me, game (uhm, story) has a great idea behind, visuals are incredible, music is spellbinding. I really admire projects of these kind because developers respects not only instincts but also a brain. I really glad that more projects are on the way, not only from "the chinese room" but from other independent developers. Great stuff, really worths to spend money and time. Expand
  3. 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
  4. Jul 28, 2012
    7
    This...story has surely some good points, but also some bad ones. I said "thing" because I can't really talk about game because it has almost no game elements in it except, maybe, for the menus, but I can see why people are both discouraged and impressed by this: the first thing that actually disappointed me is that the story itself is very slow and sometimes very confusing...but that is actually one of the main points of the story, and at each playthrough the lines change among them, making the story more or less clear; however I can see people having issues with the story and even I had some issues to understand, at least in the beginning. Also, the fact that there is no exploration can be a little frustrating, because there's isn't much else to see and, unfortunely, you can't even run. Another flaw maybe is the length: it lasts only 1-2 hours tops and I can see why people are discouraged to pay (not a lot at least), for a game that don't even last like a movie. But with that said, this story is actually a good one, even if it's confusing: even if the lines and the descriptions takes a little to understand, once you get it you see that it's extremely touching and very deep, because it's basically a travel in the mind of a man and his thoughts about things around him and his past, and all of this has a reasonable but also a more confusing ending, after you have seen all of the places... and about these places, I must say this: even though I'm not a graphic lover, the scenery in this game are simply beautiful. I honestly never seen such beautiful scenery put in games: it looked like I was in a real place! And even though graphics alone are never worth the price in ANY game, this game showed that graphics can create a great scenery and beautiful places, and not only make a game more realistic. I can't say to give it a try mainly because, as I said, it's short and there is almost no gaming elements, but if you are interested in something different, in a different story, and in a different yet beautiful scenery, this is a ticket for a graphical museum that will accompany you together with a good, but also confusing, story. Expand
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. Jan 15, 2013
    0
    As a mod for a game, this is cute. As it's own game, it's nothing worthwhile. The story could easily have been packed into 20 minutes instead of 60-90 minutes of walking through beautiful, but generally uninteresting terrain. Expand

See all 231 User Reviews

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