Begin a journey through one of the most original first-person games of recent years.
User reviews: Mostly Positive (4,542 reviews)
Release Date: Feb 14, 2012

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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

Windows
Mac OS X

    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
30 of 37 people (81%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: March 15
I love this game.
Why? Cause it's unusual. It's not like any other exploration/adventure game i've seen on steam.
You can compare it to book with missing pages and those pages that you have are not in order.
It was so beautiful in term of visual appearance and atmosphere back in 2012.

Dont buy if you are looking for any kind of action and can't spend few hours just walking around this island, slowly unfolding story.
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54 of 84 people (64%) found this review helpful
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: January 2
Positives:
+ Visually stunning, the scenery is beautiful
+ Enjoyable soundtrack

Negatives:
- Doesn't really feel like a game. The only controls are to turn and move forward, with a zoom feature I never needed to use. There's no interaction at all, you just walk along a mostly railroaded path, with occasional snippets breaking in to tell the story
- The story is somewhat convoluted, and while it makes you think a bit, it didn't really hold my interest enough
- It's extremely short, I finished the game/story in just over an hour

Comments:
The graphics, scenery and sound track are excellent, but I just didn't really enjoy this "game". The lack of any real interaction meant the story would have had to be incredible to really hold my interest, and I didn't find it to be so. That, plus it being incredibly short, mean I can't really recommend Dear Esther.

Overall Rating: 4/10
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17 of 19 people (89%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: April 11
I really enjoyed Dear Esther. Whether it be the beautiful visuals, the powerful ambient music or the in-depth analysis into the human mind. Dear Esther has it all.

I was perplexed upon reaching The Caves, it's truly stunning at what can be achieved within the parameters of the Source engine.

I'd consider this as more of an artistic experience than a game. I found myself questioning so much during my playthrough and for that, I'm thankful for such a wonderful journey.
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41 of 62 people (66%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: January 29
This game is a gamble. You'll either have a near-life changing emotional experience and come out a changed person, or... you will be bored witless on an otherwise pretty walk on an island. I fell in the latter group unfortunately, and I cannot recommend this game.
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38 of 63 people (60%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2.1 hrs on record
Posted: January 3
10/10 Would walk again. Great syphilis simulator.
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20 of 30 people (67%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
3.0 hrs on record
Posted: January 28
Well, I finally got around to playing this after years of languishing in my backlog (3 years I think?). Initially, I didnt play it because my computer couldnt handle it and it kept freezing. However, I realized that since I had upgraded my GCU, there was no reason not to, and on maxed out settings no less.

The game is in a word: BEAUTIFUL. Seriously, this might be one of the best looking games if not THE best looking game ever. It's probably a bit messed up, but I kept thinking that this is how Skyrim should have looked (not that Skyrim looked bad). Anyway, I digress. This is actual a mostly linear exploration game, where the story is revealed as you check out locations.

The story itself is the subject of much speculation and debate. One thing that is not debatable is that this isnt exactly a happy story being told, although possibly it has a hopeful ending depending on how you perceive the entirety of the story. I will give my take on that at the end of this review so it wont spoil the game for anybody who doesnt want to read it. It is told in narrative fashion.

The gameplay itself is simply you walking around, looking at stuff. You can zoom in, and that is exactly all your actual gameplay options.Keeps it pretty simple that way.

I mentioned the graphics before, but seriously, the attention to detail, even the minutia of a scene, is fairly well flawless. I can find zero fault with it whatsoever. You will be truly amazed with this aspect of the game in my opinion. There are some really jaw dropping images in this game. If you are curious, take a peak at the 140 or so screenshots I took, lol (but be wary of spoilers in them).

So, that is pretty much it. This game is perfection as far as walking simulator/exploration games go. I've seen nothing better yet. 10/10

Alright, now to the SPOILERS

It is my opinion that our protagonist is a ghost, revisitng his final days, his final regrets, and finally coming to terms with everything. I am of the opinion that, whether or not s/he was actually dead (the voice is male, but the reality of his gender is ambiguous at best), he was at the very least hallucinating and/or in a hospitalized, drug induced state of disorientation. His mind is clearly fractured and I think the people he references (himself, Jacobson, Esther Donnelly) are all parts of his own consciousness. The cause was obviously an auto wreck, although maybe this was just metaphor as well, and I coulnt help but think that he had lost a daughter, which was the source of his wrecked mind.

I dont know though. This story leaves a lot of your own subjective interpretation, which is actually another appealing aspect of this game

SPOILER/REVIEW END.
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22 of 34 people (65%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2.3 hrs on record
Posted: December 28, 2014
It's a pretty game, but that's about all the nice things I can say about it.

There's no real "exploration" when you're almost totally on one path to the end. So a game that took the creators 2 years takes about 2 hours to complete. Only changes that could justify another playthru is dialog changes at certain points. But the story doesn't seem to matter, because there's limited connection between what you're doing and the narration.

The only real mystery is WHO BOUGHT ALL THESE FREAKIN' YANKEE CANDLES?!
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9 of 12 people (75%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.4 hrs on record
Posted: March 21
Dear Esther is a beautiful, touching, moving experience. It is as some have said, a work of art. As you move through the desolate island alone the story unfolds. The music is excellent too. This isn't a game. It is an experience. I hope that tells you enough to know if it would be for you. It took me a little under an hour and half to take this in. I know you can see my listed playtime but I just wanted to indicate that was how long it took from start to finish.
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25 of 44 people (57%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 29, 2014
Considering this game is often on sale for dirt-cheap (and included in many humble bundles) it might be worth checking out if you're a fan of atmospheric walking simulator games. However, there are two things I wish I had known going into this title:
1). As many have stated in the reviews, it is art not a game. The only thing you control is movement. There are no puzzles and there is no challenge whatsoever. Because of the limited controls, this leads to my second major problem with the game.
2). It can be agonizingly slow and tedious. I understand thechineseroom's decision not to include a sprint button, as this game is quite short and it would feel out of place. However, a simple fastwalk button (or making Esther walk faster than a drunk snail) would have helped tremendously. At several points in the game, you find yourself at one end of a HUGE plain or cliff that you must traverse to the other. You will also make many wrong turns and have to turn around and re-tread these massive terrains. The game requires a lot of patience and, unfortunately, it fails to deliver.

This game does succeed in its gorgeous visuals (easily the selling-point, oddly enough) and the conventional British narrator. It also has a very open-ended conclusion if that's your sort of thing. But ultimately I find it difficult to recommend Dear Esther as a good game, if it's even a game at all. While I'm not bitter about the dollar I probably spent on this title through a humble bundle, I still want my hour and a half back.
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10 of 16 people (63%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
0.3 hrs on record
Posted: April 12
I'm not really sure what this is. I'm not usually one to scoff at the proverbial “walking simulator”. Though, this is one seems to be slightly.. almost entirely absent of interaction. Maybe a switch to pull? Even just a simple “let me move with a little, I don't know... motivation button” Even if the motive is.. well, a mystery? Despite a pretty heavy implication that our “dear” Esther is quite dead.

Not to mention that I literally got stuck in the geometry multiple times. I mean, you had one job videogame. Was I not supposed to explore? Don't feel bad for missing out on this one.
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17 of 30 people (57%) found this review helpful
1.2 hrs on record
Posted: December 17, 2014
Interesting experince and a different approach to a story driven game but due to its lack of any interactions and just walking with narration, I cant recommend it for a $10 price tag. I only played through it one time and I've heard that multiple run throughs can bring up some various changes in narration but that doesnt drive me to want to play again. There also was not any payoff at the end, it was far to open ended and didnt seem to have a point. It does look great and the audio is wonderful. Pick it up on a discount.
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.5 hrs on record
Posted: May 23
It's a poem where you get to walk in it. It's short so it won't have any chance to bore. It looks great, music is absolutely awesome and it makes you think and comment on it (while you're alone in your room, talking to yourself)

If you have the patience of someone who even can't stand game intros (you idiots) stay away. Otherwise take a walk, listen to the wind and see the reflections of an old man on a beautiful island.
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6 of 9 people (67%) found this review helpful
1.2 hrs on record
Posted: February 22
It's pretentious as hell and I completed it an hour, taking my time along the way. Yet, the ride was enthralling and the feeling I got in the end was rather unique and hard to explain. I generally detest walking simulators but when they're as pretty as this one and the story is told in such a David Lycnhian manner, I am inclined to give it the Thums Up rating.
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12 of 21 people (57%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.9 hrs on record
Posted: February 15
When I first saw this game I was astonished by it's scenography and bought it immediately, and I didn't make a mistake!

Graphics 8/10
Scenography and graphics are gorgeous in this game, it's a rather a piece of art, then just what we are used to see. There's some problems with edges (for example: rocks), but those are small things which won't ruin your experience in this game.

Sound 8/10
The music is very relaxing, you can really set your mind free while listening to it, it's oftenly followed by amazing voice acting, which reminds me of one in "The Stanley's Parable".

Gameplay 4/10
There isn't much gameplay here, you just walk around and do some sightseeing without interaction with your environment at all. I don't find it interesting to just walk around, but I guess everyone has their own likes and dislikes.

Story 6/10
The story is pretty short, you can complete it under 2 hours, which is a shame. To be honest, I don't have much to say about it, except that I didn't like it very much, they could write a better story.

Overall experience 7/10
It's a great little game, and I have fun with it, though the story is a little bit short. Everyone should try this game without any doubt.

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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.3 hrs on record
Posted: May 3
I want the reader to completely understand that I do fully recommend Dear Esther.
Even though I don't have any idea what it can be defined as.

To call Dear Esther a "walking simulator" is unfair.
However calling it a video game is also unfair.

A game is: "A competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more opponents who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators."

Dear Esther contains no rules to follow or games of chance. It offers no opportunity to use any physical or mental endurance. There are no skills to learn, nor opponents that would attempt to prevent you from achieving any progress.

So how would I define Dear Esther? I would call it what it is.
An exploration of a digitally constructed island.

Lets be honest, that is what you are getting with this title.
You stroll around a gorgeous island with beautifully rendered scenery.
The experience is also wonderfully complimented by a soothing soundtrack and eerily haunting dialog.

Believe it or not, people should enjoy this thing of beauty.
I won't go into detail about what you will see or hear.
You simply need to experience it for yourself.

I just want people to understand what they are buying.
Dear Esther is a walk in the park.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
1.7 hrs on record
Posted: May 5
I bought this game a long time ago, I was younger then. I believe the purchase was out of spite for people bagging on it for not being "enough of a game" or whatever. I'm always annoyed by such arguments, especially when so many actual horrible games continue to clog steam every year.

Anyway. I finally played this - alone with good headphones. It was amazing. A fantastic experience for a few dollars I dropped years ago. I would recommend it to anyone in a reflective mood, it requires a bit of patience and adjusting. The experience is quite restrictive compared to other games. By the time you get to the second "act" however, the mood really kicks in and the story takes over.

It is a game which is slightly different each time, not merely because of the path you choose, but because of variations in the island itself, as well as the narration. I strongly recommend it - though I'd warn anyone looking for more interactive gameplay to steer cleer.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
2.0 hrs on record
Posted: April 5
9/10 Best walking simulator I have ever played.

No need to run (not that you can), just enjoy a nice leisurely stroll around a deserted island. Game contains varied environments to appreciate. Savour the beautiful scenery while free roaming and exploring.

I deducted a point because of some narrator that kept interrupting my otherwise immersive walking experience.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
1.2 hrs on record
Posted: May 9
This is not a game. This is an experience. A damn good one at that.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
1.3 hrs on record
Posted: May 23
A beautiful experience, but I would not recommend it to anyone in a depressed state of mind.
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5 of 8 people (63%) found this review helpful
5.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 30, 2014
Dear Esther was probably my favorite game - Very relaxing, with beautiful music, great graphics, lovely views and an ending that made me cry (even though I hate to admit it).
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