Begin a journey through one of the most original first-person games of recent years.
User reviews: Mostly Positive (3,736 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
5 of 6 people (83%) found this review helpful
1.9 hrs on record
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.
Posted: October 12
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12 of 22 people (55%) found this review helpful
8.6 hrs on record
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
Posted: October 13
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
7.8 hrs on record
Amazing Game, would walk again 10/10!
Posted: October 10
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
1.1 hrs on record
It's okay
Posted: October 23
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
0.9 hrs on record
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.
Posted: October 5
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
0.9 hrs on record
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.

Posted: October 15
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3 of 5 people (60%) found this review helpful
1.1 hrs on record
Dear Esther opens with the beginnings of a letter. As the game's protagonist sets foot onto a deserted island, he starts the game's morose, floridly allegorical narrative with the titular words, "Dear Esther". This letter written to Esther contains a rich story whose open-to-interpretation-type narrative makes multiple playthroughs of Dear Esther equally lurid and enlightening, despite the game's somewhat tedious gameplay elements. When paired with Dear Esther's ethereal environment, this narrative creates a deeply mournful and intriguing walking simulator.

The player's journey up the island begins in the day time, beneath ominously gathered clouds and amid rolling hills of withered plantlife. The atmosphere of Dear Esther is filled with tragic elements that add to the story's themes of suffering and grief. During the first half of the journey, the player will pass by grounded ships and abandoned cottages. As the game continues on, the day will grow darker and soon you're plunged into the fantastical darkness of a cave that is illuminated by the rising moon and studded with chemically inspired, glow-in-the-dark paintings and lines of scripture. The environment of Dear Esther grows stormier and more otherworldly as it approaches the climax of the game.

The astounding scenery of Dear Esther is paired with frequent pieces of narration from the story's main character. The character's letter to Esther is one filled with metaphors that will depict incredibly abstract images while instilling terrifically tangible emotions in the player. The style of the letter swings between a solemn sadness and a bitter rage, and often the contents of the letter are vague and disjointed—almost as if there are multiple letters and the player is only getting pieces of each one. Each sections of the letter unveils another piece of the story behind your character's climb to the beacon, while leaving enough room for you to speculate about some of the game's more ambiguous plot points.

Completing more playthroughs of Dear Esther reveals more pieces of the game's shadowy plot; each piece of dialogue the player receives is one of many potential speeches delivered by a supurb voice actor. Untangling the mystery of Dear Esther's story is a slow and thoughtful journey that, with a little bit of patience, could leave you thinking about this game in moments when you least expect it. Dear Esther's literature quality writing and thought-provoking style of gameplay earns it a steady recommendation from me.
Posted: September 24
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5 of 9 people (56%) found this review helpful
2.1 hrs on record
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.
Posted: October 5
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6 of 11 people (55%) found this review helpful
0.7 hrs on record
I fell asleep trying to "play" this "game."
Posted: October 1
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14 of 27 people (52%) found this review helpful
0.1 hrs on record
Dear Esther,

Your game is boring and consists of little more than a walking simulator. You attempt to pass yourself off as a would-be Myst-like adventure, but fall short on nearly every important game mechanic necessary for doing so. The only one thing you get right is mysterious scenery, but that's about it.

Puppies and hand grenades,



Gun Sage
Posted: October 9
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
2.4 hrs on record
Dear Esther is a walking simulator that will bore you to death.

A walking simulator needs to provide a compelling reason to play it... it must provide a reason for simply exploring with little to no interaction. It must provide a compelling story, interesting things to discover and an immersive believable environment. Let me address all 3 of these points.

Compelling story: the story is revealed as you progress in the form of text that appears on the screen, read by a gentleman with an english accent. It resembles journal entries, but the language is thick with metaphores making it difficult to follow at times. By the end of it I basically understand the gist of the story but I have nothing to pick up or re-read so I can't go back and review something that I have already heard. So, for me there was little emotional impact at the end, even though I "get" what is really going on.

Discovery: there are maybe 3 different area "types" in the game, each providing some interesting things to look at. Each of these areas though were not very dynamic, meaning after the first 2 or 3 minutes you have pretty much seen everything there is to see. There are occasional buildings to explore but there is not enough detail in the interior to make it memorable.

Immersive environment: This aspect of the game was most disappointing to me. A walking simulator NEEDS this above all else. First of all, my walking speed is very slow, so I am naturally inspecting everything I see. Close up the textures are terrible and low-res. Although the game can be played in 3d (all walking simulators need to support 3d) I don't recommend it... the textures appear flat and lifeless in 3d. The ambient sounds were "ok" but the transitions between areas was often abrupt, and the sounds were not directional. Also where are the birds and other wildlife? Insects? Even dreams are more interesting than this. As I'm walking through the environment I can hear my footsteps... but there is no special noise when I walk through the weeds... there are many examples of this.

In the end I'm pleased that this game only took an hour because honestly I would rather be doing something else.

3/10
Posted: October 13
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
1.2 hrs on record
I secretly enjoy pretentious art games. Don't tell anyone, OK?
Posted: October 7
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5 of 10 people (50%) found this review helpful
1.3 hrs on record
Pretentious game. Walking simulator in nice settings. Good music.
Posted: September 30
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2 of 4 people (50%) found this review helpful
1.5 hrs on record
It's hard to call Dear Esther a game, as the player makes literally no interaction with their environment, all they do is simply walk through it and look around.

Every once in awhile the narrator will speak about random things when you eventually reach the next trigger (at a tediously slow walking pace I might add). While this is supposed to help you understand the story, the simple fact is that the "story" is left so incredibly vague that it's somewhat pointless to attempt to figure it out, as there's no right answer. Sometimes this works for games, but in Dear Esther's case, the game does a poor job at getting the player invested in the story, and considering nothing about it is for sure, the player isn't able to piece together some kind of answer like in other vague stories, as you can't rule out any possible conclusion. There are also no meaningful, developed characters in it, rather you're told a collection of names and left to come up with who they could be on your own.

The writing reminds me of some teenager trying to write "deep" poetry for the sake of being deep. The narration snippets are told in a boring, artificially drawn out fashion, much like the game itself is. You'll dread backtracking from one of the many pointless, long dead ends so much that you'll probably noclip to get back to your previous location faster.

So is there anything good about this game? Yeah, it's pretty, and has a good soundtrack, that's about it. Not nearly enough to justify the $10 price tag.

I see this game compared to The Stanley Parable often (which made me look forward to trying this out), but the big difference between that and Dear Esther is that the player's actions actually matter in The Stanley Parable. The player has no purpose in Dear Esther, they're pretty much just moving the camera through scenery for the entire game. All I can say is, I'm glad I didn't pay for this "game", even $2.49 would be stretching it to me. You can find equally great scenery and far better story telling in games with actual gameplay.
Posted: October 11
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
2.7 hrs on record
If you like pretentious walking simulators with nothing of interest except pretty visuals, this is the game for you.
Posted: October 5
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
1.7 hrs on record
Boring
Posted: October 11
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
0.1 hrs on record
Longest 6 minutes of my life
Posted: October 11
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
1.3 hrs on record
It looks pretty but it's not a game. It's a walking simulator with a stupid, pretentious "story". I still regret buying it. Gah.

Only people who think video games are an artform enjoy it.
Posted: September 27
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
1.2 hrs on record
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.
Posted: October 4
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3 of 6 people (50%) found this review helpful
0.1 hrs on record
Great stuff for autists.
Posted: October 19
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