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75

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

User Score
6.4

Mixed or average reviews- based on 589 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, makingDear 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
    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: 86 out of 234
  1. Jul 16, 2012
    10
    First things first, you will only get about an hours game play out of this game and if you're looking for action then go elsewhere. Now that'sFirst things first, you will only get about an hours game play out of this game and if you're looking for action then go elsewhere. Now that's out of the way I would definitely recommend this game, gripping, interesting, at times emotional, breathtaking and I have no regrets about paying the price I did for it. At first you may think £9.99 (RRP?) is a bit of a rip off for such a short game, think again, this game gripped me from start to finish, it is a breath of fresh air, don't compare it to other games, think of it as a concept within itself, try putting yourself in the mindset that you are playing through a film or a story rather than a regular game. It will play tricks on you, you will be unsure if you just saw/heard something or if you just imagined it, the story drags you in, you feel attached to the character despite not seeing them, you understand their mindset, and the game sort of lets you make of it what you will, give it a chance, play through to the end, and you won't regret a second of it. Expand
  2. Jul 7, 2012
    10
    I went back and forth a lot on this one, between 9 and 10. Rationale for "10": the developers have made something that captures ourI went back and forth a lot on this one, between 9 and 10. Rationale for "10": the developers have made something that captures our imagination; we become enrapt in an environment without having to blow anything up, kill things, solve complex puzzles, etc. There seems to have been a general trend towards less story-driven content and more blowing stuff up, and in my opinion the question has been, can we increase the story, the art, the atmosphere, etc., decrease the explosions, and still entertain people? This title *is* that experiment, having taken the shooting and problem-solving to absolutely zero -- and the response has been surprisingly (to me) positive. Rationale for "9": I was a little confused at the end; I had an expectation that by uncovering clues, I would be able to piece together a story that made sense. And I also read a little bit about this title, both before playing and after completing it, and I thought there would be more of a "ghost story" aspect to it. In the end I decided I was leaning more towards "10", as the rationale for "9" was reasoned away. Specifically, it dawned on me that there is no reason not to consider a game as a work of art; and as I began to consider this work amongst the many other types of works, such as poetry, music, painting, etc., and I realized that in art, there often is no "right answer" as to the meaning of the work. Some art works aren't so much important for their meaning as for their creativity, beauty, and their ability to make us think. The artist may have an idea in mind, a message to convey, but sometimes a work can lead to more questions than answers. It is often up to the beholder to decide what the meaning is, and to fill in the gaps. As for the "ghost story" aspect, once I came to find out (through fora and such) that there were mysterious shadows lurking around, and where they might turn up, I have to admit that I could no longer attempt play-throughs at nighttime with the lights out. That is a powerful statement. I'm not a spiritual person, but for some reason this story, setting, music, etc., had a very real effect on me. I'm not sure if I agree with the designers' approach of not allowing the player to get all the story fragments in one play-through, but it does give us the opportunity to go back through and pick up subtleties that we may have missed the first time through. In short, 9.5; I'll round up. 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 gameTo 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 16, 2012
    7
    Dear Esther is not a game, so it should not be reviewed as a game. It uses a game graphics engine, and game controls, but games require atDear Esther is not a game, so it should not be reviewed as a game. It uses a game graphics engine, and game controls, but games require at least a basic level of skill or interaction, and Dear Esther requires nothing more than movement (as do 'maze' games, but they require skill).
    What you do have is graphics, a story, music and atmosphere; things which most modern games require and are critiqued upon in games reviews, so it's these things that should be evaluated. Dear Esther excels in all of these areas, putting most games which try to be 'atmospheric' to shame.
    The problem is, because it looks and feels like a game, you want to do game things, at the very least, jump, crouch, open doors and pick things up. Once you get over this lack of freedom and settle into the narrative you start to enjoy the experience a little bit more.
    It should probably come with a 'this is not a game' sticker, but if you keep an open mind, and offer Dear Esther your time and patience, you'll enjoy a visually enchanting, and occasionally creepy story.
    I would still have liked the ability to jump and crouch!
    Expand
  5. Oct 1, 2012
    5
    While the island you visit is pretty, you
  6. 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 IThis 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. Expand
  7. Dec 25, 2014
    0
    This whole game could have been included in a larger trailer. It is no more than one long cut-scene, and the developers and players bluntlyThis whole game could have been included in a larger trailer. It is no more than one long cut-scene, and the developers and players bluntly lie to you - it is NOT INTERACTIVE. It is NOT AN INDIE ADVENTURE GAME.

    It's an okayish mind-teaser, but it is even below low-quality visual novels and doesn't deserve being paid for. As a free mod or video, this would be nice.
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See all 234 User Reviews

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