Begin a journey through one of the most original first-person games of recent years.
User reviews: Mostly Positive (3,781 reviews)
Release Date: Feb 14, 2012

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Buy Dear Esther

Buy Dear Esther + Soundtrack

 

Recommended By Curators

"Is this even a game? I dont think so.... Its a very atmospheric experience though."

About This Game

“A deserted island…a lost man…memories of a fatal crash…a book written by a dying explorer.”

Two years in the making, the highly anticipated Indie remake of the cult mod Dear Esther arrives on PC. Dear Esther immerses you in a stunningly realised world, a remote and desolate island somewhere in the outer Hebrides. As you step forwards, a voice begins to read fragments of a letter: "Dear Esther..." - and so begins a journey through one of the most original first-person games of recent years. Abandoning traditional gameplay for a pure story-driven experience, Dear Esther fuses its beautiful environments with a breathtaking soundtrack to tell a powerful story of love, loss, guilt and redemption.

Forget the normal rules of play; if nothing seems real here, it’s because it may just be all a delusion. What is the significance of the aerial -- What happened on the motorway -- is the island real or imagined -- who is Esther and why has she chosen to summon you here? The answers are out there, on the lost beach, the windswept cliffs and buried in the darkness of the tunnels beneath the island… Or then again, they may just not be, after all…

Dear Esther is supported by Indie Fund.

Key features:

  • Every play-through a unique experience, with randomly generated audio, visuals and events.
  • Explore Incredible environments that push the Source engine to new levels of beauty.
  • A poetic, semi-randomised story like you've never experienced in a game before.
  • Stunning soundtrack featuring world-class musicians.
  • An uncompromisingly inventive game delivered to the highest AAA standards.

Soundtrack

Jessica Curry's haunting and beautiful soundtrack to Dear Esther, now available on Steam, has been a hit with gamers and critics alike. Reviewers have said ""Curry's score reflects the player's feelings without oppressively instructing them. Exquisitely constructed, both sonically and visually" (Eurogamer), "as beautiful as the game is, it’d be remiss not to mention Curry’s atmospheric soundtrack...impossible to ignore." (Edge), "spellbinding, fascinating aural landscape: a resounding success" (Square Enix), "Curry's delicate & understated musical score achieves a level of excellence. It's the ultimate achievement of composition." (Bitgamer). The soundtrack was shortlisted for the Excellence in Audio award at the Independent Games Festival 2012

System Requirements

PC
Mac

    Minimum:

    • OS:Microsoft Windows XP / Vista / Vista64
    • Processor:Intel core 2 duo 2.4GHz or higher
    • Memory:1GB XP / 2GB Vista
    • Graphics:DirectX 9 compliant video card with Shader model 3.0 support. NVidia 7600, ATI X1600 or better (Pre-Sandybridge Intel graphics chipsets not yet supported)
    • DirectX®:9.0c
    • Hard Drive:2 GB HD space
    • Sound:DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card

    Recommended:

    • OS:Microsoft Windows XP / Vista / Vista64
    • Processor: Quad core 2.4GHz or higher
    • Memory:1GB XP / 2GB Vista
    • Graphics:DirectX 9 compliant video card with Shader model 3.0 support. NVidia 8800, ATI Radeon 2900 pro or better (Pre-Sandybridge Intel graphic chipsets not supported)
    • DirectX®:9.0c
    • Hard Drive:2 GB HD space
    • Sound:DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
    • OS: MAC OS X 10.6.7 or higher
    • Processor: Intel Core Duo Processor (2GHz or better)
    • Memory: 2GB
    • Hard Disk Space: At least 2 GB of Space
    • Video Card: ATI Radeon 2400 or higher / NVIDIA 8600M or higher / Intel HD Graphics 3000
Helpful customer reviews
16 of 22 people (73%) found this review helpful
1.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 12
Absolutely mesmerizing storytelling, with the tone of a masterfully penned novella and music that bears the weight of endless sorrow. An island that feels more like a character than a place. The only choice you have is to keep advancing or stop playing.
Dear Esther manages to be a profound and unique experience, even though it consists solely of walking through a virtual environment and listening to a man slowly lose his sanity for a little over an hour. I've replayed it many times and loved it more each time, while still feeling like I hadn't understood all it had to offer. Whether you consider it a game or not, Dear Esther is certainly a work of art.
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: October 26
The perfect game just for walking in beautiful serene places, it's seriously dreamy. The walking isn't even that slow, don't know what those people are talking about at all.... *Raises eyebrows* ... lack patience much? Sheesh!

If you want to go for a nice walk and hear a story, go here! :D
The cave is the best level. ;)
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
2.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 28
My recommendation to anyone thinking about playing this game is to go into it with the proper mindset. It is not so much a game in the traditionally understood sense of the word. Rather, Dear Esther is an almost entirely cerebral experience. It works on the player in much the same way a good painting will effect an observer who sees in the art not merely a window looking out on our own world, but that same world slightly altered by the surreal, and thus bringing to light things about ourselves we might not otherwise see. That said, Dear Esther, by it's very poetic nature, is one of the most immediately captivating games I have encountered; I do not believe it should be overlooked simply because it does not conform to the usual way in which people have come to view video games.

Overwhelming is the sense of solitude on this gloomy, desolate Hebridean island. Heavier still is the desperately sorrowful soundtrack, by Jessica Curry. In style, it is similar to film composer Christopher Young's most sparsely written music, and plays as a more effective voice in this introspective journey than does the admittedly potent narrator. I often find game music lacking in its ability to plunge beneath the fabric of a game and tug to light its individual and vibrantly beating heart, but this is a rare instance where such a feat is accomplished. Haunting as any chamber music has ever been, the score to Dear Esther will probe the emptiness within each of us, and get us contemplating questions most prefer to ignore.

This is a relatively short journey, requiring the gamer to simply progress across the island until they have reached a lone radio mast. There are no decisions to be made, no objects to interact with, and the fragmented narration of the main character plays out as you progress. The epistolary narrative renders the intent of the story in a vague light, like a sequence of events seen through shimmering tears. It is debatable what Dear Esther is actually trying to say (and I believe it to have been done that way intentionally), but anyone willing to open themselves to the voices haunting this Scottish island are certain to draw some very strong conclusions.

To me, the story deals primarily with unspeakable loss, and how we set ourselves up for even greater heartache (potentially leading even to madness) if God is not our anchor in all things. I, for one, see the issue of personal transcendence (as it is articulated at the end of the game by the main character's leap from the radio tower, who then begins a ghostly flight across the moon-dappled sea, followed by a black fade) to be illustrative not of our ability to achieve such a spiritual shift on our own, but exactly the opposite: There exists within fallen humanity a perpetual, aching cry to be delivered, redeemed--to transcend the shattering effects of our sinful natures.... But humanism cannot accomplish this miracle, nor any form of man-centered religion focusing on personal moral performance or upon the sincerity of their emotions as they are connected to a certain belief system. The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only atonement by which we can be saved from all this death. He is the only peace, the only Truth. The end result of all other efforts at redemption lead only to chilly shadows and vacuous spaces brimming with regret.

Hopefully sharing my personal interpretation of Dear Esther does not come across as a clumsy effort to proselytize (if that were the case, I would certainly have given the gospel in its fullness), but rather illustrates the power and versatility the player can expect to experience by such an unconventional game as this.

For anyone looking to plunge beneath the surface within themselves as they embark upon the solitary journey to the radio tower, Dear Esther offers surprising treasures that periodically flash their brilliance even years after the experience has ended.
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6 of 9 people (67%) found this review helpful
2.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 2
Brilliant experimental design. Love the narration and visual elements
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5 of 8 people (63%) found this review helpful
1.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 17
Simply stunning! I applaud the developers for showing restraint with the controls, putting the player in just the right state of mind to fully appreciate the wonderful environments & atmosphere.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
1.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 30
It's a great experience, not sure if it's a game over a novel or movie. I liked it. It's not for everyone. You'll be let down if you go in expecting a puzzle game or really any choices at all.

Protip - go to the options and set Forward to a mouse button, so you can go through it with one hand. Take lots of screenshots too, it's a beautiful experience.
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5 of 9 people (56%) found this review helpful
0.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 15
Dear Esther takes you on a 1 hour journey on an island while a narrator is telling a story. I thought the story was pretty good and some of the sceneries are pretty well done. There isn't much else to it really and you probably won't replay the game.

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21 of 41 people (51%) found this review helpful
8.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 13
IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, BUY THIS GAME!!!

I want to live in the illusion to be the only one to ever experience the story in this game.

20/10
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4 of 8 people (50%) found this review helpful
0.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 5
I can't think of the words to come up with a proper review for a game like this. I mean, words by themselves would just be a subjective representation of something that should be experienced. Like a fleeting memory of a long lost loved one, or the recurring pain you feel on a winter night, about the past you want to correct, and a future of mistakes. It's reality in your face, in a world that lives in imaginary wonderlands and facades. If humans just took one moment to see what's in front of them, and truly cherish what is most important, the world wouldn't be like it is today.

It's not about Dear Esther changing the landscape of gaming, it's not the somber narrative, or the mixed messages you as the player try to interpenetrate. It's more than that, it's everything you want it to be, and nothing. It can be a silly game with no point, or it can be an important piece of literature. To me, it's what I've seen and been through, it's loss, it's regret, it's sorrow and happiness, and most importantly it's freedom. So yes, Dear Esther is an important piece of work, and it just so happens to come in an interactive format. Laugh if you must, and mock if you will, but game companies can learn from Dear Esther. It's just too bad, that the masses like shooty shooty bang bang, and sparky sparks go flashy flash.
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4 of 8 people (50%) found this review helpful
2.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 13
The protagonist has landed on a hebridean island to reminisce about their lost love, Esther. Guide him through the island in slightly different ways and you'll reveal different parts of the dialogue.

The fragments of the story are brilliantly narrated, and leave a lot to interpretation, which just draws you in further.

As a whole, this is genuinely beautiful; it can barely be described. It takes around 50-60 minutes but you absolutely must not be disturbed during it.. Don't worry about saving, or any typical 'game' stuff. Just experience it, preferably with headphones and no other external stimulus.

You will feel that you understand, but what is to be understood?
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5 of 10 people (50%) found this review helpful
7.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 10
Amazing Game, would walk again 10/10!
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3 of 6 people (50%) found this review helpful
1.3 hrs on record
Posted: October 25
I loaded up Dear Esther on my computer with high expectations. I'm a new gamer and have an arts background, so I have enjoyed exploring some of the indie games instead of the usual gun-blazing brain-blasters that seem to be so popular. I had just finished playing Gone Home and really enjoyed it. From the reviews I had read, Dear Esther was supposed to be an even better narrative-driven game. It wasn't.

When I realized you can't DO anything -- no object engagement, swimming, or overcoming the tiniest of obstacles -- I patiently explored the island, waiting for something to happen. About an hour and a half into the game I decided to give up for the day, feeling like I'd seen a lot of stunningly beautiful landscapes, but that's about it. When I reloaded the game on another day, I discoverd I was forced to start from the beginning, and there was no way I was spending another hour and a half of walking an island with nothing happening just to get through the last of the dull storyline.

I'm sure the story is great, though the metaphorical and lyrical language that guides the game was pushed too far and comes off a bit pompous-sounding. They tried too hard to be brilliant with this one, and it comes off as unnatural and forced. Skip it.
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8 of 17 people (47%) found this review helpful
1.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 4
There's something inherently appealing about the "walking simulator" genre - maybe the hope that games really can be a form of high art, that they'll be able to evoke a sort of deep, aesthetic response akin to poetry, or that the visuals alone will (must?) be so amazing that they'll stand on their own merits.

Then you actually play Dear Esther, and you wind up slowly plodding through some bland hillsides for an hour.
While there's some semblance of a story, it's too vague and frankly uninteresting to leave much of an impression.

That said, one part where you walk through some caves is kinda pretty. Watch that on YouTube instead.
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3 of 7 people (43%) found this review helpful
0.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 26
S­hit
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2 of 5 people (40%) found this review helpful
1.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 23
Nice story, artistic, about 1.5 hours long, not really a game. At £6 too expensive for what it is. £3 would be okay.
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9 of 20 people (45%) found this review helpful
0.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 1
I fell asleep trying to "play" this "game."
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6 of 14 people (43%) found this review helpful
2.1 hrs on record
Posted: October 5
In this touching NPR walkman museum audio visual coordinated headphone tour you will learn about the wonderful life of a bird with opposable thumbs who occasionally uses a flashlight to shine light on subjects like kidney stones, goats, and syphilis. Truely touching, I will never be the same again.

Can I recommend it, no. But If you want a good laugh because of ridiculous dialogue that changes each time you play all while walking though beautiful landscapes and wallpaper art, give it a shot. It wouldn't hurt. Just hearing the Fartsy Poetic Dialouge made me laugh and cringe at the same time. I have played through this game twice and have no clue what it's about.
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4 of 10 people (40%) found this review helpful
1.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 18
This game is so boring. Grey environments which you walk around for an hour, which narration that appears every few minutes and says a few vague things, which end up being less emotional and symbolical and more boring and nonsensical. Not even slightly worth buying.
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3 of 8 people (38%) found this review helpful
2.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 5
If you like pretentious walking simulators with nothing of interest except pretty visuals, this is the game for you.
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2 of 6 people (33%) found this review helpful
1.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 7
I secretly enjoy pretentious art games. Don't tell anyone, OK?
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