Average User Score: 6.5Jan 1, 2013First and foremost, Dear Esther is a game that will cater to a very specific type of gamer, so if you aren't the kind of person that likes walking along a fairly linear path for no reason other than to progress the story (i.e. Final Fantasy without the battle sequences) then chances are you won't like Dear Esther enough to justify the $10 required.
Dear Esther is quite a change of pace in the video game industry, moving the emphasis away from action and twitch gameplay and toward passive narrative and storytelling. Right off the bat you are dropped in a world in which nothing is readily apparent except to just keep exploring, and all the while you hear snippets of dialogue from an unknown source. Throughout the game, these snippets come together to explain the setting and story as well as the significance of the world you are in.
As far as what makes Dear Esther a good game, I feel like I should point out that it isn't a game as much as it is a narrated benchmark. Interactivity in the game is next to nothing as the only things you as the player are allowed to do is to go from area to linearly-arranged area at a single set speed. The controls are limited to walk (emphasis on "walk") and a slight zoom, and the only real motivation to proceed further into the game is to find the next scripted point in which you are gifted another chunk of dialogue.
That said, Dear Esther is a remarkable narrative experience. The game is presented in a very poetic and artistic style. The graphics are beautifully presented and the dialogue is well delivered. There's a bunch of places in which cryptic spots of graffiti are splattered onto the wall, adding to the mystery of the world that you are placed into. Also, if you play the game multiple times through, you are given new secrets that explain the story further.
In conclusion, Dear Esther is a beautiful example of narrative-driven gameplay, although the term "gameplay" is used here very loosely. The lack of any real forms of interaction would seriously challenge anyone's definition of the term "game", and as such it would be a specific demographic of gamer that would appreciate what this game is. At the end of the day, if you were one of the people who only played Diablo III or Mass Effect for the visuals and the storyline, then you wouldn't be amiss giving Dear Esther a go.… Expand