Begin a journey through one of the most original first-person games of recent years.
User reviews: Mostly Positive (5,123 reviews) - 76% of the 5,123 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Feb 14, 2012

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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
126 of 142 people (89%) found this review helpful
4 people found this review funny
10.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 17, 2015
It isn’t a game, it’s an experience.

A lot of the criticism and confusion of Dear Esther is brought about because it is not exactly 'a game'. There are no enemies, no objectives, no inventory, nothing we've come to expect in video games. It is where art, storytelling and games intersect, to create a masterpiece.
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=553155472

Dear Esther is visually astounding. Journey deep into the island's caves and you will be utterly in awe of the beauty therein.
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=498467039

The music is beautifully haunting, always appropriate in intensity for the situation, and never overwhelming it.
The narration contributes significantly to the player's emotional state while traversing the island. His rantings and musings, his rage and his despair, all help lend color to the landscape, and keep the player firmly rooted in the world before them.
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=532172608

Whether you would define Dear Esther as a game or not, it is without a doubt an experience you will not regret.

10/10
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87 of 109 people (80%) found this review helpful
5 people found this review funny
2.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 30, 2015
Dear Esther is beautifully designed, hauntingly atmospheric and splendidly narrated. It also has a couple of very big problems...

<Contains minor spoilers>

The Old Argument

...but funnily enough, the question of whether or not Dear Esther is a game isn't one that bothers me. Gaming is still a relatively young medium, and writing off a game just because it doesn't meet the traditional definition can only stifle innovation and discourage others from experimenting. Ultimately, I'm more interested in the question: did Dear Esther succeed in what it set out to do? Well, allow me to elaborate on what I think.

Hebrides

Dear Esther is a so-called "walking simulator" (i.e. has very little gameplay besides walking and looking) set on a bleak Hebridian island. This island is perhaps the most compelling character in the entire story: it is nothing short of breathtaking. I regularly visit these islands in real life, and Dear Esther succeeds magnificently in capturing their bleak magnificence. Coastal winds whistle through rusted chain-link fences, smoky clouds hug towering cliffs, bothies speckle the terrain and rocky bays with rotten wooden structures dominate the landscape. Both the visual (spinning 2D plants aside) and the sound design are spot-on in establishing the atmosphere, which in turn is helped by the superb soundtrack. There were some moments that left me literally stunned at what I was witnessing on my screen, that's a rare achievement for any video game.

Anywho, you play as a nameless, voiceless, faceless protagonist shipwrecked on a harsh Scottish island, who must make their way towards the radio tower on the horizon. It's not really clear what you intend to do once you get there, but never mind. Interaction is limiting to walking around the island and sometimes poking your head into forlorn buildings, only to find them empty and long-abandoned. The lion's share of the game is spent listening to a well-spoken narrator reading a series of letters written to the eponymous Esther. The narrator himself is another highlight of the game; speaking in a deliberately monotone voice to start with, but rising to passionate speeches as you approach the game's climax.

So I like everything so far, and I don't mind the bare-bones gameplay, so why a No?

Crux

Because of the limited interactivity, the narration pretty much forms the crux of the entire experience. Sadly, I found the quality of the writing in Dear Esther to be wanting.

If ever there was a walking definition of purple prose, this would be it. Although it contains a handful of reasonably well-written lines, the core parts of the narrative are so cluttered with flowery dialogue that it repeatedly draws attention to itself with how ridiculous it sounds. I admit to not being the smartest when it comes to analyzing good writing, but I can usually get invested in a well-told story even if I don't fully understand everything behind it. But Dear Esther is so full of itself and so utterly pretentious that I found myself getting frustrated rather than intrigued by the story. Here are a couple excerpts from the game:

"An imagined answerphone message. The tires are flat, the wheel spins loosely, and the brake fluid has run like ink over this map, staining the landmarks and rendering the coastline mute, compromised. Where you saw galaxies, I only saw bruises, cut into the cliff by my lack of sobriety."

"I had kidney stones, and you visited me in the hospital. After the operation, when I was still half submerged in anesthetic, your outline and your speech both blurred. Now my stones have grown into an island and made their escape and you have been rendered opaque by the car of a drunk."

Perhaps my experience with human beings is limited, but this sounds like it was written by a teenager in English class trying to sound far cleverer than he actually is (this I can speak from experience though, because it sounds like one of my old essays). This is the only story I've experienced that somehow manages to be both frustratingly vague and tiresomely heavy-handed at the same time. Not sure how they did that, but that's the thought that kept crossing my mind as I listened to it.

Amputation

Then we come to the second problem: the player. The fact that Dear Esther may not be a 'real' game isn't what bothers me. What does bother me is that the player is completely amputated from the story being told. We're not here to partake in a moving tale of human loss, instead we're merely treated as a vehicle for the narrator to force flowery nonsense down our throats without getting to experience or even influence any of it. In fact, we're almost a hindrance to the game for our mere presence. This makes me wonder why Dear Esther is even a game in the first place, especially since it wrestles control from you during the ending (the only time something of note actually happens). The only benefit from it being a game is that I get to hold down W for 90 minutes, so it's essentially like watching a film on a DVD player with a broken pause button. On top of that, the walking speed is painfully slow:

"People need to be more patient and take their time with soaking in the atmosphere"

This is what admirers of the game often tell me when I bring this up. Fair enough, I like immersing myself in a slow-burner, if anything I prefer a slower-paced story. But more often than not you'll wander down rather lengthy corridors, find nothing of interest, not even a bit of narration, and then have to slowly plod all the way back again. At this point, all the carefully planned pacing in the game comes to a crashing halt. Then there are other times when you have to traverse fairly featureless expanses all the while sliding along at the speed of a Peugeot driver on the Edinburgh bypass. This is not good pacing, this is just time wasting.

Final...

Some might say that I've simply missed the point of the game, and that I'm too thick or impatient to fully appreciate Dear Esther's strengths. In all honestly, there's a good chance that you're correct in saying that. However, this game did not engage me on any level. I never felt invested in any of the character shells we're given a vague description of, and its eagerness to be intellectual and thought-provoking just came across as pretentious and condescending. I can give it credit for trying, but not for failing in its primary purpose. For that reason, I cannot recommend Dear Esther as a video game.

(But I do recommend buying the soundtrack. Seriously, go get it, it really is that good)
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32 of 39 people (82%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.0 hrs on record
Posted: December 21, 2015
NOTE - This game has been provided to me for free for review purposes.
Overview
Dear Esther is not a game, it is a walking simulator, and it is an experience. You walk on a deserted island, while your mind narrates some letters you wrote to Esther (hence the name). It focuses on the environment, the music, and the very detailed world to amaze and relax you.

The Pros:
  • Beautiful - The game is beautiful. The world is very detailed, put together with much care and thought. Every scenery is breath-taking. Lots of dense foliage, rocky cliffs, and watery caves. Wonderful lightning as well! This is a walking simulator, of course. It is meant for you to behold, to explore, to enjoy.

  • Great Narrative - The narration is very well performed, and the contents are nice as well. Pay close attention and you will get a grasp of what happened in the past. I won't give details about them here. Experience them yourselves.

  • Relaxing - Besides buying a game, you also get free relax pills. This is excellent for when you are stressed out. Just enter the game, pick a chapter, and slowly walk, breathe in deeply, enjoy the beauty. Works like a charm!
Cons:
  • Linear - The game doesn't allow you to stray too far off your obviously paved paths. There are some occasions where you will encounter dead ends, but fear not. Just turn around, look for 5 seconds and the true path will surely be revealed to you.

  • One Hour - That is the approximate time you will spend walking around. This is the standard length of this type of games, and I am not disappointed with it's length. But the world is so well made, I just want to see more of it!

Conclusion
For a 2012 game, this was a fresh breath of air. Good looking, interesting, and highly relaxing. If you like this type of games, get it, you won't regret it.

If you liked this review or want to see more of my recommended games, you can view my reviews here, and be sure to follow our curator group: Follow Original Curator Group
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26 of 33 people (79%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2.0 hrs on record
Posted: December 10, 2015
More of an experience than anything, Dear Esther delivers the stunning and riviting tale of a man who reflects his memories of his past wife who fatally died in a car crash. Exploring the area allows you to further understand the story, with a well laid out path for you to follow. The tale also inspires extremely beautiful visuals for just being a Source game, known for their fast pased gaming titles previously released. At a slow and easy pase, there's absolutely no distractions from a unrelaxing experience, rather you'll actually get some sort of sadness out of it.

My experience playing it was great. I understood everything from the story, and was instantly hooked by the second of four chapters. The visuals were added bonuses. I loved every minute of it, up to the very end of the tale, with the game ending in the most scenic way possible, and provided a lovely score to it as well.

I encourage you to give this game a try, no matter the price, because at the price I got it ($2 USD) I feel I should have payed more for such a beautiful and relaxing tale.
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16 of 19 people (84%) found this review helpful
6.6 hrs on record
Posted: August 27, 2015
I don't normally do reviews because I'm too lazy and stuff, but this is such a good game that I have to write a positive review just in case I can persuade someone to buy this game and try it for themselves.

Arguments about whether it's really a game or not don't matter, the point is that it's a deep, thought-provoking experience that I enjoy each time I play through it. It's all about story, and this game tells its story in such a way that you kind of have to interpret it for yourself.

No NPC's giving you exposition, no fetch quests, no half-naked elf women; Just a tragic, romantic, and deep story told amongst the beautiful scenery of an uninhabited Hebridean island.

I definitely recommend giving this one a try. Also the soundtrack is awesome.
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