Begin a journey through one of the most original first-person games of recent years.
User reviews:
Recent:
Very Positive (47 reviews) - 82% of the 47 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Overall:
Mostly Positive (5,518 reviews) - 76% of the 5,518 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
Customer reviews
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Recent:
Very Positive (47 reviews)
Overall:
Mostly Positive (5,518 reviews)
Recently Posted
Brother_Webb
3.4 hrs
Posted: August 27
This is the most gorgeous game I could possibly run on my cruddy laptop. Even though the frame rate occasionally slips on broader viewpoints, I am stunned by the beauty of the environment alone.

This took me a couple playthroughs to assess; about a year apart. I was unsure what to make of it at first. It is not a puzzle game, but it still made me think. The intermittent poetry highights the purpose of the protagonists pilgrimage in a very elegant manner. Musical composition is also very, very well done. It's hard to explain the depth of emotion which is not apparent at first look. Even though it is one of the most casual games I've ever played, I found the subject matter of life, death, passion and ambition to be more palpable than most stories told through video games. Then again, somebody I know just died, so perhaps facing that reality has made my second experience with this game more relative and compelling.

I am content to explore the metaphores, meanings and landscapes simultaneously. I hope to see more like this soon.
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Hello Jihad Kitty
1.4 hrs
Posted: August 27
Honestly an amazing experience, not a traditional game and led to my love of walking simulators
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Atomix
1.2 hrs
Posted: August 22
You walk around and listen to someone talk.
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Leomin
3.0 hrs
Posted: August 22
I remember this game as a strange dream.
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shroudripper
2.4 hrs
Posted: August 19
Great walking simulator with a good and abstract story. Short but sweet, get it on sale since its about two hours long and doesn't have replay value.
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Ethan
0.9 hrs
Posted: August 19
Bootyful!
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Tsiakkos
1.5 hrs
Posted: August 19
Is it really worth the $10 (or euros which is what I payed) for 1.5 hours of gameplay? Don't think so. You can't interact with your environment, just walk around and notice things that by the end I found it all to be just sentimental mumbo jumbo. The graphics are cool sure, but in what game nowadays arent?!

I do not recommend this game at all and I honestly feel scammed by sites that suggested this as one of the best games of the year. Shame on you! Would recommend "Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons" a thousand times over this nonsence to anyone interested in this genre.
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Tagora
8.6 hrs
Posted: August 17
7/10 visuals. Too many sprites. But the cavern visuals were great despite this. Would recommend for this alone.

The game had some decent narration up until the ending. Some people cannot let art be art, and we end up with an end-product screaming its meaning into your face. Maybe the writers were scared that its audience would require a ♥♥♥♥ing plot ♥♥♥♥ at the end for us to understand the game. And so it came off as some pretentious MADD propaganda when I believe that it could have ended in the same vein of mystery as it began. 6/10.
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Lunameyza
3.6 hrs
Posted: August 17
Dear Esther was my very first Steam 'game', and I think it's time to give it a review.
First of all, this isn't a game, it's 100% a walking simulator. Some people see that as a bad thing, but this just shouldn't be a game, being a walking simulator fits the best. The narrator has a perfect voice for this experience. As you walk on the island, the narrator tells you a vague story with sometimes long pauses. You really have to pay attention to the narrator to understand the story at the end, he will make you question a lot. Who's the narrator? Who am I? What is our relation? Just try to discover it for yourself during your walk on the beautiful, haunting island.
The atmosphere is breathtaking, it's cold, grey, haunting and just beautiful. Just like the visuals and the landscapes. And I almost forgot it, but it's very important: The music, it's beautiful and fits so well! I still listen quite a lot to it because it's so beautiful.

If you like a walkingsimulator with a great story and great atmosphere, then this is a must-have! And even if you're not a big fan of walking simulators but you do enjoy a good story and it's on sale, I recommend it for you. If Dear Ester is your taste, you'll get suck into it and you will really think about it.

Perhaps it's just because this was my first game ever, but I'll always love and appreciate this experience a lot!
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Penfolds5
6.2 hrs
Posted: August 16
Who doesn't love walking
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Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
19 of 20 people (95%) found this review helpful
Recommended
9.0 hrs on record
Posted: July 31
The Short of It:
Let's get this out in the open: "Dear Esther" is not a game. It is a sublty-told story that is presented using visuals and narration. In essence, you're walking through a poem. It's beautiful to look at, has multiple ways of being interpreted, and causes you to question the story, sanity, and nature of the unknown narrator, whether the island itself is real or not, and even question yourself as the individual walking around the island. It is not for the impatient, nor is it particularly cheery. It is tragic, sorrowful and beautiful.

The Long of It:
"Dear Esther" tells a story that is tragic, mournful, reality-bending and deliberately vague. Each walk through it is slightly different, with the narration and visuals varying slightly each time. I can't guarantee you'll be satisfied once you reach the end, because in a way, it says something different to each person who plays it. Some people will go through it and be frustrated by having to walk such long distances without any option for a "sprint" button, while others will be perfectly happy to see the beautiful, desolate scenery go by while keeping their eyes peeled for the spirits which haunt the island, whether they be spectres, hallucinations, or unseen events from long ago.

It's probably the single most visually impressive and beautiful world ever created in Half-Life 2's now aging graphics engine, and almost seems to pump new life into Source. The only things which take away from the experience from a technical perspective are some of the physical objects which lose their realism when seen up close, and the fact that audio stutters happen at certain moments to jar the otherwise ethereal mood.

I can see why some people don't like it because while in one way it's short (only 1.5 hours to get through) there's next to no interaction involved in that 90 minutes, so I can't fault anyone for saying it's too boring for them. It's slow, contemplative, and not bristling with things to investigate. So be forewarned that it will not be an exciting adventure. For those who allow the narrative and environment to speak to them (both literally and figuratively,) it can carry quite a bit of emotional gravity. All poetry is in a way, pretentious, so I don't blame those who describe "Dear Esther" that way. However, there's something beautiful about well-constructed verse, and for anyone who's experienced loss, this game speaks volumes that they will relate to.

I give it a thumbs-up for its artistry and subtlety. Some people will complain that it's not worth $10 because it's a walking simulator. Your mileage may vary, but I experienced "Dear Esther" as a guided meditation through one man's attempts at coping with loss. For me, it was worth buying, and while it's not a title that I'll be launching more than once or twice, it's one I don't regret purchasing.
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6 of 7 people (86%) found this review helpful
Recommended
1.0 hrs on record
Posted: August 1
I've just finished the game. Let me sum up my impressions:

+ The game has truly astounding visuals. Every single place during the game is scenic, every single angle is worth a screenhot. It really blows your mind that such graphics and atmosphere can be achieved with the "aged" Source engine.

+ The soundtrack is incredible. It fits the mood and the narrative like a glove. It's neither too weak nor overwhelming.

+ All the sounds in the game are carefully designed and they enhance the atmosphere greatly, especially the wind sounds.

+ The story, when coupled with multiple playthroughs and perspectives and impressions of other players, prove to be actually very deep.

+ All in all, this game has an incredible atmosphere and a spooky mood.

- The story, by itself, is very, very vague. You need to play multiple times and check other players' ideas and impressions to get the whole picture.

- The walking speed is agonizingly slow. I know this is a game mechanic but in some places it could really be faster. At least we have the console code to increase the walking speed.

In summary, I can recommend this game ONLY IF:
*You are aware that this is actually a visual-novel, and not really a game. There is absolutely no interaction of any kind.
*You are aware that you need to play multiple times and check the forums to understand the story better.
*You aware that this is, as some others call it, "a walking simulator."

I don't remember how much I paid for this game, but I think for 5 bucks or less, it's worth it. If you have a few hours to spare, this might be a good choice.
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.0 hrs on record
Posted: August 22
I remember this game as a strange dream.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
Recommended
2.9 hrs on record
Posted: August 2
I love these kind of games. Dear Esther is an interactive poetry.

A man lost within his own world, represented as an abandoned island. As he walks, he studies the traces of his own past, in search for hope. All you do in this game is walking and listening to the narrator. But if you let yourself be taken by the narrative, the experience can be amazing. This game is really special to me, because it helped me think about my own situation of loss and confusion.

The character starts walking on a familiar place, then he finds signs of a something terrible, that left marks on him. He is compelled to walk to another place. On the way, it seems to recite a letter to a woman. He also finds symbols of chemical elements and mysterious phrases.

There are deep emotional scenes that makes you think: Is suffering necessary to find peace?

Dear Esther is an emotional game, it requires patience. Do not expect any challenge. The challenge is to pay attention to details and assemble your own experience from the elements that are given. How much time do you decide to spend in a certain place, looking for a particular sign? What are you looking for? These elements will form the final narrative. So it all depends on you, really.

Dear Esther is like a mirror. What do you see? I see a man going in and out of the cave, finding hope amid the rubble of his own life. So it was a worthwhile experience for me. It will not be for everyone. But that's the difference between a work of art and an entertainment product.

Positive points
* Amazing deep emotional moments.
* Incredible graphics and sounds.

Negative points
* There is no challenge, it can't be played as a conventional game.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
Recommended
2.4 hrs on record
Posted: August 19
Great walking simulator with a good and abstract story. Short but sweet, get it on sale since its about two hours long and doesn't have replay value.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
8.6 hrs on record
Posted: August 17
7/10 visuals. Too many sprites. But the cavern visuals were great despite this. Would recommend for this alone.

The game had some decent narration up until the ending. Some people cannot let art be art, and we end up with an end-product screaming its meaning into your face. Maybe the writers were scared that its audience would require a ♥♥♥♥ing plot ♥♥♥♥ at the end for us to understand the game. And so it came off as some pretentious MADD propaganda when I believe that it could have ended in the same vein of mystery as it began. 6/10.
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
221 of 262 people (84%) 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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325 of 408 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
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230 of 293 people (78%) 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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213 of 272 people (78%) found this review helpful
6 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
2.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 10, 2014
This is a work of art.

There is little story, and even less gameplay. You're mostly railroaded along a path, where you will hear and see things. The world is visually appealing, and the voice work is wonderful, but the overall mood may or may not appeal to you.

Like any purely artistic work, it either speaks to you or it falls flat. Personally, it's not my cup of tea, but it might be yours.
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