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Begin a journey through one of the most original first-person games of recent years.
Release Date: Feb 14, 2012
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Buy Dear Esther


Buy Dear Esther + Soundtrack


About the 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.


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

PC System Requirements


    • 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


    • 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

Mac System Requirements

    • 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
240 of 295 people (81%) found this review helpful
160 products in account
8 reviews
3.1 hrs on record
Well there's something you don't see everyday - Dr. Peter Venkman, Ghostbusters

Dear Esther is not your ordinary game. In some respects, it is not a game at all. Focusing on environments and atmosphere rather than gameplay and action is a nice way to change the pace, but it will definitely put some people off. If you're a person who prefers Serious Sam and Doom over Amnesia and Proteus, I do not think this game is for you. The sound in the game is, well, not very exciting overall. The intro plops you into the island with explanation of why you are there, if you pay attention. The story is told by a nameless narrator, who talks about the island, his hobbies, and the mysterious Esther. Digging deeper into the story explains more about the characters and the settings, but only if you are willing to look.

The game can be frightening and intense if you let it. Beautiful environments are accompanied by the haunting yet calming voice of the narrator, who tells his life to you. While not the best decision for gameplay, Dear Esther provides with an amazing narrative and an atmosphere that is so thick you could wrap yourself up in it. The first chapter is the make or break point in this game.While not looking very stunning, the first part does do its job to set up the second half of the game. Not giving away too much, but not boring you to the point of no return. The end of the second chapter is where it is its best. The aesthetic changes completely, music greets you immediately, and the haunting feeling kicks in. The third chapter is my personal favourite, with the climax of the game leaving you able to interpret it however you please.

There is no gameplay whatsoever. If the developers wanted gameplay, they could've at least given you the choice to turn off and on your flashlight, or maybe do some simple puzzle. Face the facts: You walk extremely slow. Perhaps for pacing, but it can be frustrating whil you spend the whole damn game going 10mph (That's metres, not miles). Also, for a game about discovery, there is very little to discover, not that you'd feel inclined to due the the speed of your walking. It can be quite boring if you're playing it after watching a walkthrough of it on Youtube, TwitchTV, or whatever place you use to watch gameplay videos, so I'd recommend not watching gameplay of Dear Esther before playing it. Also the visuals of Dear Esther deteriorates when it is put into videos, no matter how you set the graphical quality (1080p does NOT do this game justice via video).

There are two types of people in the world. Type one is the type who prefer Proteus over Dear Esther, and the other type of people prefer Dear Esther over Proteus. I fall into the latter category, for many reasons. If in doubt, get it on a sale. If you like it, great news! If you don't, you spent $5 and 1.4GB 'playing' a game that you didn't like. Personally, I think that the third chapter is the best chapter in this game. For the first two chapters, you explore the island, and at the end of the second chapter, a forced plot point happens which sends you to the most beautiful part of this game. The final chapter wraps it up nicely, and some people will like the final chapter more, so suffice to say the second half f the game is generally liked more. Also, this is NOT a game for children. It can be difficult to understand and there are so many plot elements that are metaphors or relatively unusual.

-Proteus, in many ways, but also differs greatly
-Amnesia: The Dark Descent, although without being as scary

For more reviews check out http://steamcommunity.com/groups/truereview
Posted: November 27th, 2013
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118 of 169 people (70%) found this review helpful
107 products in account
1 review
11.5 hrs on record
First off, let's be clear: this isn't a game for everybody. Nor is it really a 'game'. If you want fast paced action, turn back now, but if you're looking for something different, something a bit avant-garde and arty, Dear Esther is well worth your time.

You play a nameless character (first-person) who wanders along a basically linear path accross an abandoned Hebridean island for about 2 hours while a narrator intermittently reads fragments of letters to a woman named Esther. Interaction is minimal: you can walk, look around, and zoom in slightly. A flashlight automatically turns on when you enter a dark place. That's it in terms of gameplay, but Dear Esther's focus is not gameplay, it's on story.

And what a confusing story it is. Piecing together the narrative will require you to listen carefully to everything the narrator says, read past the symbolism and shifting characters, and to play the game a few times (the fragments are mixed semi-randomly each time you start the game, so you won't hear every fragment until you've played the game at least 4 times). On top of that, you'll have to look around for visual clues on the island: objects littered on the ground, books in houses, diagrams and messages painted on walls. Even then, you'll still have trouble figuring out everything exactly what happened. However, you'll be able to work out the bare bones of the story from one playthrough.

As mentioned before, the story is primarily told through letters read out by a narrator who is the protagonist of the story. The writing is poetic, symbolic, and digressive, often making it difficult to follow, but this is intentional I believe. The writing is really excellent (although a little over-wrought at times), and is delivered fantastically by the voice actor. Without giving much away, the story concerns a tragic accident in the narrator's past, and explores themes of guilt and redemption. Its stunning conclusion nearly brought me to tears, and loses none of its power on replays.

The visuals of Dear Esther are stunning, wonderfully complimenting the loneliness and sadness of the story. You get a real visual feast, from the rugged hills above ground to the etheral caves below. The music is also beautiful, and goes well with the visuals and story.

By now, you know whether this game is for you or not. If you think it is, buy Dear Esther right now and get ready for the experience of a lieftime.
Posted: November 25th, 2013
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142 of 239 people (59%) found this review helpful
1,224 products in account
15 reviews
0.8 hrs on record
Dear Esther is the remake of an experimental mod for Half-Life 2. The original was developed by a research project at the University of Portsmouth led by professor and media researcher Dan Pinchbeck.

The first thing that is to say about Dear Esther is: It's not a game. It has no gameplay elements and its experimental approach makes it impossible to categorize. The author calls it a "ghost story, told using first-person gaming technologies" but I'm not sure there is a ghost. I'm not even sure there is a story. If I had to put a label on it I would call it an attempt to evoke emotions with a series of randomised snippets of poetry that roughly ape a narrative structure, presented in the form of software. Not interactive poetry because it doesn't allow interaction. You are confined to the role of an observer, you can listen and watch but that's it. No puzzles, no dialogues, no characters, nothing can be touched, you can't even run or jump.

With the words "Dear Esther, ..." the unnamed narrator begins his monologue and you, the unnamed protagonist, begin your walk across an unnamed and uninhabited island. And walking (slowly, painfully slowly) is all you will be doing for the next 1-2 hours if you want to "play" through the whole thing... walking and listening to the narrator who will occasionally be throwing in snippets of letters and diary entries. While you're following the strictly linear path (you will encounter invisible barriers all the time) you will notice strange symbols carved into rocks, some mysterious drawings, some chemical formulas, even ultrasound pictures of a baby. Maybe they're intended as clues to help decipher some kind of cryptic story, maybe they mean nothing at all.

The scenery is very well designed, the music unobtrusive but beautiful.

For me, the narrative does nothing. I find it pretentious, flowery with no substance or meaning. My predominant feeling when I was "playing" Dear Esther was that of boredom. But that's just me. If you are curious about this storytelling-experiment, by all means, try it out for yourself. If you will enjoy the experience or not is purely a matter of personal taste.
Posted: December 11th, 2013
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41 of 61 people (67%) found this review helpful
153 products in account
25 reviews
1.6 hrs on record
During the first 10 minutes or so of this game, while I was wandering (slowly) through the game's initial area, I was bored. Very, very bored. While I was bored there was a pretentious British guy babbling to me in an overwrought poetic manner about something that had happened and for which I had no background information to help me understand what the hell he was talking about. That changed (thankfully): the backstory filled in, the environment and audio changed, and things improved dramatically.

This game has very impressive visual and audio aesthetics. The background sounds and ambient music enhance the experience significantly (you should play with headphones on). The voice acting is also compelling--you can really feel the narrator's internal turmoil as he struggles with what has happened. The world the developers built here has a sense of mystery, purpose and beauty, but also sadness, introspection, and the portent of dread. As I progressed through the "game" I felt more and more anxious about the revelations to come from the narrator. The suspense was palpable, and was reflected in the narrator's increasingly impassioned and upset dialogue. It's quite well done. I would say this is a game targeted toward mature gamers, in the sense that it is pretty sophisticated overall.

There are a few weak points: for a 1-hour experience it's quite a bit pricey at $10 (I got it on sale); the poetic tone was good but I thought it was forced in a few places, and at times obscured the backstory; the guy walks pretty slowly (you can go into console and change that, but that kinda breaks immersion).

In retrospect, I was impatient at the beginning of the game and am very glad I pressed on. This is a very worthwhile experience. I do think $10 is a bit steep, so I'd recommend waiting til it's on sale. If you are really into artistic and experiential games, then this is definitely for you. on sale or not.

I recommend it.
Posted: February 3rd, 2014
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183 of 313 people (58%) found this review helpful
729 products in account
4 reviews
1.8 hrs on record
The main problem with Dear Esther (contrary to popular belief,) isn't anything to do with the gameplay. It's 'exploration-focused' and lacks any form of conflict, but I have no real problem with that. You'll find some who spend time debating whether or not this is a game (it is,) but I think this is a useless diversion here. It doesn't really matter one way or the other.

What does matter though, is whether it's aesthetically any good. It clearly attempts to deliver in two ways here, through the writing alone and through the connection between it and the world you're exploring. This means that the opening conceit which justifies it being a video game and indeed having any exploration is that the narrator says:" I sometimes feel as if I’ve given birth to this island."

This leads to a game-length extended metaphor tying his emotions regarding the actual events of the story (which take place on the motorway in Britain,) to a hypothetical island. Unfortunately, the range and length of this metaphor means that a lot of it becomes stretched pretty thin, and limits a lot of the writing to only be able to speak in 'terms of an island.' This means that at times you do struggle to see the point of any of the speech about the island itself -- for instance, what are we supposed to gain by knowing how islanders traditionally and historically dealt with plagues? Very interesting - but doesn't help the story along in any way.

The writing reads somewhat like a parody or imitation of that from a classic novel, but carries little of the same purpose or clarity. There are clever moments, for example the Damascus motif which seems to have been put in because the narrator experienced a 'turning point on the road.' (Though this eventually amounts to little more than a cultural reference.) But a lot of it is stilted and even somewhat pointless - the 'kidney stone' motif goes nowhere and does nothing. It jumps through such a colossal range of themes that it can't take the time to establish any of them, and this isn't helped by the obscure structure. We're tied into exploring an island, and for the sake of player engagement and interest that means they have to put new scenery and things around most corners. This limits the writing even further, and forces it to find metaphorical links for a huge variety of things - which comes across as constrained when they spell it out, and increasingly obscure when they don't.

In its defence, the stuffier moments of writing are somewhat masked by a fairly good voice acting job, which does provide a good sense of atmosphere along with the sound direction, (and not just because it's a British voice.)

In conclusion, I don't think I can in good faith recommend it. The writing lurches uncomfortably from the island back to the motorway, and apart from establishing the conceit of the island (and in doing so providing an excuse for a video game-space,) it does very little else with it.
Posted: November 27th, 2013
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