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

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Mixed or average reviews- based on 577 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. Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 37
  2. Negative: 3 out of 37
  1. Mar 9, 2012
    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
    The beauty of Dear Esther is that it raises questions about content rather than mechanics.
  3. Feb 16, 2012
    Dear Esther. I will take flight.
  4. Feb 13, 2012
    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
    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
    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
    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: 83 out of 230
  1. Jul 18, 2012
    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
    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
    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. Aug 19, 2012
    Dear Esther was an unusual hate-love experience for me. For the first 45 minutes you will feel like a sucker duped into paying for nothing more than a tech demo. You will be walking around in a snail paced first person camera, unable to interact with even the most basic of objects, such as books or papers strewn about in a room. It would have been nice to be able to pick them up and read them as is common in adventure games, but apparently that was asking too much. In fact, the only controls in this title are move forward, back, left, right, and swim up (which is used sparingly if at all). Your purpose is to wander - wander aimlessly hoping beyond hope that you will stumble upon the imaginary trip wires placed around the world that trigger the narrator and bring some purpose to this dull experience. And I say dull not because of the pacing, or the lack of interactivity, or a graphically hideous engine (as in fact its quite beautiful when maxed out), but rather the lack of imagination that went into the world as the island is nothing but the same bland repeating rock, ground, and grass textures over and over. As for your lone companion, the narrator (whose voice is exceptionally well done), he rambles incoherently. Its as if he walked into a book store, picked up a random book, flipped through the pages, and just started reading obscure passages out loud. The whole experience is a disjointed mess. Oh and it got worse; the island which at first felt like a sandbox you could freely wander in is soon to be revealed as being a closed one-way track. When it does fork you are quickly led to a dead-end, with no narration, no purpose, only a few rocks that a newborn toddler could conquer, but yet you somehow are unable to step over. All that is left is to backtrack - backtrack with a slow moving camera only adding to the frustration. Troubles continued. As I approached the first interesting thing in this game, a half sunken ship submerged in shallow water, I like any normal person had the urge to swim to it. Well, I drowned in about 4 feet of water, "come back..." the narrator says, as I am transported back to land and free to continue on. Only I wasn't. I could look around, but I could not move. Nothing is blocking my way I'm just stuck. So this thing is bugged too? . In a blood boiling move I had no choice but to restart from the beginning and re-walk the whole bleh experience up to this point (interestingly however was the fact that some of the narration had changed). So, if you do decide to try Dear Esther do yourself a favour and quick-save before jumping off any cliffs or swimming in any water. I might have fallen victim to a rare bug, but no point in risking it yourself. Anyways, out of sheer stubbornness, I continued on from the start, mere inches away from bursting out in profanities condemning Dear Esther to the 9th levels of Hell. But, see... this is where the hate ends and the love begins. For the cave - the blue cave is where Dear Esther grabbed me and didn't let go. From here till the end I was captivated by the world. Long gone is the bland island and instead is a wondrous cave of waterfalls, streams, smoke-effects, creative lighting, and emotion inspiring environments ranging from psychosis to tranquillity. This was the experience I was hoping for when I bought Dear Esther. The story comes together, the narrator's incoherent ramblings start to actually make sense, and your purpose takes shape (which of course I won't spoil). I still don't know whether Dear Esther can be categorized as a game - and having only lasted 85 minutes in length (including my restart) I'm not sure its really worth the $9.99 price tag being sold for. However, if you wait and buy it on a Steam sale like I did for 75% off its hard to argue its not worth $2.50. Despite the slow starter it did come on strong and its unusual epistolary style of story telling will leave just enough holes to give you plenty to think about even after Dear Esther is long over. Expand
  5. Mar 2, 2012
    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'... Expand
  6. Sep 4, 2012
    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
    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 230 User Reviews