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.