Begin a journey through one of the most original first-person games of recent years.
User reviews:
Mostly Positive (26 reviews) - 73% of the 26 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Mostly Positive (5,378 reviews) - 76% of the 5,378 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.


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

Mac OS X
    • 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
    • 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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Mostly Positive (26 reviews)
Mostly Positive (5,378 reviews)
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4,085 reviews match the filters above ( Mostly Positive)
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: September 25
The buildings and areas I explored felt empty and without any real substance.

The dialogue in this game, though incredibly well voiced, felt as if without any real merit. It left me more confused than informed. It served as flowery filler to bridge the time voids created by way of the laboriously slow world navigation.

The game's biggest flaw is it's most obvious one. After moving around at the most sluggish speed I've ever felt in a title, I decided to discontinue my attempt at progressing through this experience.

Allowing for more freedom of movement speed, and making the discoveries and dialogue a contiguous whole would have made this "game" slightly more redeemable.
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2 of 4 people (50%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: September 23
Peace and quiet at last with no zombies or enemies leaping out to kill you! It is awesomely beautiful with the sound of waves crashing against the shore, wind blowing mist off the ocean, streams and waterfalls, and birds chirping. Wondrous caves to explore. We all need quiet time in a safe place frequently. This is one of the places we can go. The music is beautiful, along with the scenery. The water is exceptionally well done. It isn't healty for us to only play "kill, kill, kill" games. We need to rest our minds and merely explore the lovely island to refresh ourselves.
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2 of 4 people (50%) found this review helpful
2.8 hrs on record
Posted: September 23
Less of a "game" and more of a journey through character and emotion, a partaking in the unfolding of story and memory, told through flawlessly acted (and written) vocal lines and a stark yet strangely familiar landscape. The allegorical story is deeply moving (I, a grown man, weep tears of raw emotion and catharsis at the game's conclusion), and the accompanying music is equally so: very consciously Ralph Vaughan Williams-esque, a perfectly pastoral, haunting soundscape to complement the barren, windswept island on which the story unfolds.

Don't buy this if you expect it to be interactive, like Myst; there are no puzzles to solve per se. But if you want an experience, a deeply enriching experience that poses deep questions about life and love and loss, that opens your eyes just a little more with its sheer poignancy, then Dear Esther is for you.
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2 of 4 people (50%) found this review helpful
1.2 hrs on record
Posted: September 24
Explore the serene island around you to discover clues that will help you unlock pieces of a multi-headed storyline, recalling memories in the beautiful moonlight and the warm sun. Sometimes frightening, sometimes sullen, sometimes heartwarming, the experience is memorable.

  • Peaceful. So peaceful.
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Good exploration experience
  • Amazing soundtrack

  • Not for everyone (no action/puzzles/etc.)

It really can only be described as an experience. You explore the island and, upon finding certain areas or items, will "unlock" part of the narrative ultimately giving you final say at what the story really is. It's not for everyone (if you're looking for action, item collection, etc.), but if you enjoy serene walks through nature to somewhat meloncholy music while talking to yourself with an Edgar Allan Poe voiceover, this is right up your alley!
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
2.3 hrs on record
Posted: September 25
Short and atmospheric, a bit creepy at times. Good as a walking simulator, but not much else. Sound design is really good. I got the "game" on discount and I would recommend you do the same.
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2 of 5 people (40%) found this review helpful
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: September 23
I don't recommond, nor do I not recommend this game.
It's too tricky to do so.
For the sake of being able to post this at all, I'll select 'recommend'.

First and foremost: this is not a game.
It's literally just walking around with no purpose other than walking and following a path. There is a story.. Now the part that people who love this game will hate me for.. The story wasn't really great. I love stories in games, it's why I bought this game in the first place, but this story just seemed to be pretty irrelevant, and try hard and end up being bland.
Now, if I feel like this, why do I not simply not recommend it?
The scenery is goreous, really really beautiful. Not only that, but the soundwork, both the music and sound effects, are really good too.
I personally love islands, and the sea, and seeing weathered stuff. If you're into that sort of thing, like I, then this game might be (just barely) worth the money.
Maybe you even make more sense of the story than I did.
All in all, my opinion on this is sorta split.
Buy it if the screenshots intregue you, and don't otherwise.
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1 of 3 people (33%) found this review helpful
1.0 hrs on record
Posted: September 27
One hour, walking, abandoned island, vast cave system, beautiful.
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
218 of 260 people (84%) found this review helpful
6 people found this review funny
10.6 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.

Dear Esther is visually astounding. Journey deep into the island's caves and you will be utterly in awe of the beauty therein.

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.

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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325 of 408 people (80%) found this review helpful
3.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 27, 2013
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

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226 of 287 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.


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?


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.


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.


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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Recently Posted
4.0 hrs
Posted: October 19
For me this was the awakening to Walking Simulator, and this wasn’t a very good start, since it placed the bar way high, and no other has come close to this one. Love it!
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Mr Flibble
1.3 hrs
Posted: October 18
You walk around and half listen to a narrator for abit then its over. Abit like shopping with the missus except you only have to suffer this once. If you have cash to burn and too much time on your hands, treat yourself to this "game".
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Mad scientist
1.6 hrs
Posted: October 15
Beautiful and inspiring journey, quite short though.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
2.4 hrs
Posted: October 14
Even tho it is short, i really like this style of game. Also is has one, if not the most beautifull cave
done in Source Engine ever.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
1.6 hrs
Posted: October 14
I liked it a lot. I don't really get why it's getting negative reviews. It was a very nice and emotional story. Plus it has some of the most amazing sights that the Source Engine is capable of. If you like a nice story and amazing atmosphere, then definitely check this out.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
3.1 hrs
Posted: October 14
Beautiful, haunting, and engaging. Loved walking around and finding things. Enjoyable.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
1.6 hrs
Posted: October 11
A very special video"game" about sadness. It's good at what it wants to be and might be interesting for some. Playing it made me genuinely sad^^
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Gordon Ramsay
2.4 hrs
Posted: October 9
Beautiful game. 8/10.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
1.2 hrs
Posted: October 8
Hated this game. It's not the fact that it's a "walking simulator". I loved Firewatch and it mostly consisted of walking around and enjoying the story. The story itself was poor and disturbing.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
1.3 hrs
Posted: October 6
Do I recommend it or not ?

Yes because it's gorgeous and has a great atmosphere / soundtrack.

No because there's no interactivity with the world whatsoever, the story unfolds when you cross a checkpoint and that's it, you're spoon fed, no object manipulation, no discovery by yourself. For me, it's awkward and doesn't help with the immersion. On top of that add an irritating slow pace, the "keep on track" level design and a convoluted open interpretation story.

Doesn't work for me, like reading a book with my imagination restrained.

Better choices : Ethan Carter, Gone home

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