Begin a journey through one of the most original first-person games of recent years.
User reviews:
Recent:
Mixed (37 reviews) - 54% of the 37 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Overall:
Mostly Positive (5,420 reviews) - 75% of the 5,420 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Feb 14, 2012

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Buy Dear Esther + Soundtrack

 

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
Customer reviews
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Recent:
Mixed (37 reviews)
Overall:
Mostly Positive (5,420 reviews)
Recently Posted
king prawns
( 2.0 hrs on record )
Posted: June 26
there are lots of rocks and it gave me the tinglies
Helpful? Yes No Funny
amic403
( 5.5 hrs on record )
Posted: June 24
stands out for the soundtrack alone. Let alone the amazing visuals. I've played multiple times and end up with the same result... spellbound.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
.Yorveen
( 2.0 hrs on record )
Posted: June 24
Amazing. Atmospheric. Even more beautiful after every new attempt.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Dustonivich
( 1.0 hrs on record )
Posted: June 22
started game
walked around
clicked on stuff
walked some more
heard a story
the end
pretty game though
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Adoring Fan
( 1.9 hrs on record )
Posted: June 22
Not worth the ten dollars... There is no way to interact with anything around you, nor does the game last the player more than a couple of hours to finish, nor does the plot make sense. Will say that the artwork was decent. Do not recommend...
Helpful? Yes No Funny
tagz_flood55
( 5.4 hrs on record )
Posted: June 21
Very awe-inspiring and emotional. The graphics in this game have really been improved.

I remember when I first tried this game out when it was a mod for Source (2007 I think?). It always struck me as a unique mod at the time that sort of strayed away from action in favor of narration, suspense, and a bit of exploration.

Runtime is only about an hour and half if you take your time, but I feel its worth it. Great job.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
ChakaRazer
( 0.2 hrs on record )
Posted: June 17
Product received for free
-I guess I could 'indulge in the contradictions' but I kind of didn't want to.

I think, just being able to touch things, or jump, maybe, would have been a huge improvement for this game.

I don't know, I played it for about ten minutes. It was very pretty and the dialogue made me laugh. But even that got a little rough and shaky. It is intriguing to find out if your insane or not, but I wasn't really interested enough to keep playing.

Very pretty game though. Wouldn't recommend buying, but following the makers.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
DementedCaver
( 23.5 hrs on record )
Posted: June 17
Do not get this if you are expecting a game.
You do not shoot anything, in fact there are no other characters or any other living things with the exception of a random bird or two.

I wouldn't even recommend getting this at the full price of $10, but I am not hating on this.

This little piece of software is in a strange little categoy that is hard to explain, but it is rather fun to walk around on this island and check things out, look at the beauty, and listen to the story unfold. This is not a game it is dark poetry and I would highly recommend it if there is a steam sale on. Be warned, you can complete the whole thing in about an hour...but since it is so short it is fun to walk through several times because you have a tendancy to find things you missed the first time.

P.S. It has some pretty caves.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
CelestialCuttlefish
( 0.7 hrs on record )
Posted: June 17
Product received for free
They wouldn't let me on the boat...
I just wanted to get on the boat....
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Guile
( 1.4 hrs on record )
Posted: June 16
No Gun,
No Puzzel,
Just walk and listen.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
25 of 30 people (83%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: May 28
Product received for free
Incredibly magical experience after this game. Everything fits together like a puzzle. You know the feeling, when you want to end the game (to know the ending) but also do not want to end (because the game is really good)? I had this feeling after finishing this game.

Story
The story begins on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere. Deserted island has one charm - nature. You have to go on a journey and with exploring the island, you also uncover parts of the story to the end, which is perfect.

Graphics
I don't know what to say. The waves beating against the rocks, cold wind, in dense fog shrouded lighthouse, amazing night beach, gorgeous moon, caves - such a visual experience offered by Dear Esther. However, I miss there any wild animals on the island (i've seen just one seagull).

Audio
Beautiful soundtrack by Jessica Curry plays a big role with a voice of a narrator, who is very important in the story games. I must also mention great sounds of nature - like the sea, the wind, falling drops of water in the cave.

Gameplay
Well, all you need to do in this game is just walk around and listen to a narrator, what is a great pity. Story like this just needs some investigations of items or searching for clues, eventually some easier puzzles. But I have to commend the developer console, which is enabled in the settings. Gameplay is really short (1-2 hours).

Price
I get this game for free from my friend but I think that 9,99€ is enough because you can finish it in two hours.

9/10
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11 of 12 people (92%) found this review helpful
Recommended
6.8 hrs on record
Posted: June 14
As an English major, maybe I am biased. Maybe also I am biased by the facts that my fiance died 12 months ago, that my mother died several months after that, and that my father soon died after her. It has been a rough year. Maybe that's why I love this game, and why I already own about ~3-4 copies of it so far, due to Humble Bundles and whatnot...

But perhaps not.

I loved Dear Esther long before any of that stared, after all. I certainly played it at least more than 21 times, trying to figure out where its lines were, though I could never exactly locate them on my maps. I would try to explain it to my fiance, to my dad, to my mom, back when they were still alive, why a 'video game' meant so much to me. How stupid was that? Trying to explain why a 'video game' actually meant something? Instanity, right? Like a barnacle, clinging stupidly to a rock, just trying to not slide into the ocean.

Or, perhaps, it is just that Dear Esther is really not a game, but rather a brilliant piece of existential human literature? Is that a real option? Really?

Maybe this 'game' is as good as the hype, or at least maybe it is for those who are listening for its quiet themes and narratives. Maybe it captured something its 'haters' are deaf to.

Ah, who cares...

This is my all-time favourite video 'game', and I don't care if it's not really a game or not, or if scores of others don't understand/appreciate it and instead choose to pile heaps of scorn/mockery/ridicule on it for not fitting within the mold they've decided it needs to fit.

This is, uquestionably, IMHO, the greatest video 'game' I've ever played, full-stop, even if there is no actual game to play. Dear Esther is a rare, precious gem of a 'game', and it makes me feel good just to have had the priveledge of experiencing it.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
6 of 8 people (75%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
0.8 hrs on record
Posted: May 29
Personally I found this game pretty good. The broken fragments of the narrator recalling letters he sent to Esther and the bits and pieces of left behind mysteries you find among your walk of the island are haunting yet calming. I find the game had me creating my own story of what happened, which personally I like as it's essentially reading a book that you get to visualize and make your own image of whats happening. There is a few points where you see figures among the mountains and in various areas, makes me wonder exactly what is happening, almost like following the life of a schizophrenic obsessed with a woman named Esther. I recommend it at sale price, not for 10$.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
23.5 hrs on record
Posted: June 17
Do not get this if you are expecting a game.
You do not shoot anything, in fact there are no other characters or any other living things with the exception of a random bird or two.

I wouldn't even recommend getting this at the full price of $10, but I am not hating on this.

This little piece of software is in a strange little categoy that is hard to explain, but it is rather fun to walk around on this island and check things out, look at the beauty, and listen to the story unfold. This is not a game it is dark poetry and I would highly recommend it if there is a steam sale on. Be warned, you can complete the whole thing in about an hour...but since it is so short it is fun to walk through several times because you have a tendancy to find things you missed the first time.

P.S. It has some pretty caves.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
2.5 hrs on record
Posted: June 15
I played this when it first came out on Steam. And it stays with me to this day, unlike almost everything else I have played. The music is superb - bravo, Jessica Curry! - and the journey I took meant so much more to me than any other PC game.
No, you cannot hop and jump etc. That takes some getting used to. But you don't need to. From the vistas to the haunting speeches, from the shock of a half-seen spectral figure to the jarringly unnatural elements of some of the scenery, such as car parts and glowing paintings, playing this game changed me. I genuinely experienced a great deal, and the ending left me speechless with joy.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
Recommended
5.4 hrs on record
Posted: June 21
Very awe-inspiring and emotional. The graphics in this game have really been improved.

I remember when I first tried this game out when it was a mod for Source (2007 I think?). It always struck me as a unique mod at the time that sort of strayed away from action in favor of narration, suspense, and a bit of exploration.

Runtime is only about an hour and half if you take your time, but I feel its worth it. Great job.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
4 of 8 people (50%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
1.9 hrs on record
Posted: June 22
Not worth the ten dollars... There is no way to interact with anything around you, nor does the game last the player more than a couple of hours to finish, nor does the plot make sense. Will say that the artwork was decent. Do not recommend...
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
217 of 255 people (85%) found this review helpful
6 people found this review funny
Recommended
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, if you have any interest in narrative driven adventure games, you’re sure to find a new favorite here and it is without a doubt an experience you will not regret.


Verdict: 8/10
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323 of 404 people (80%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 27, 2013
Well there's something you don't see everyday - Dr. Peter Venkman, Ghostbusters

THE GOOD
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 GREAT
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.

THE UGLY
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).

THE VERDICT
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.

SIMILAR GAMES
-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
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
217 of 273 people (79%) found this review helpful
14 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
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 limited 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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