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Last year, The Chinese Room released a console version of its flagship non-combat exploration game Dear Esther—named the Landmark Edition—and suggested it would one day land on PC. It's now doing exactly that, the developer has revealed, and will be completely free-of-charge to owners of the original on Steam as of 6pm GMT/10am PT tomorrow.
With it comes remastered audio and developer commentary for the game which is widely considered to have sparked the 'walking simulator' genre. It's been ported from the original Source Engine onto Unity 5 and has additional accessibility options, large subtitles, a crosshair, multi-language options, and a smattering of trophies and achievements.
Since the launch of the 2012 original, a number of similar games have come along—not least The Chinese Room's own Everybody's Gone to the Rapture. Of the former, Chris described it as "a trip through a brilliantly conceived landscape that rewards attentive engagement with a moving story."
Here's the launch trailer for the game's PS4 variation:
In a blog post, The Chinese Room also promises a mega-exciting announcement which will be made at 10am PT/6pm GMT when the game launches. "[We] can't say more now," reads the post, "but follow us on Twitter because you really don't want to miss the boat on this one and it's extremely time sensitive."
The ‘Landmark Edition’ of seminal walky story Dear Esther [official site] will launch tomorrow, developers The Chinese Room have announced. It’s basically the same game, but remade in the Unity engine with a few tweaks and a director’s commentary. It’ll be free for everyone who already owns the original Dear Esther, and it sounds like it’ll be separate rather than strictly an ‘update’, preserving that Source engine version and mod heritage. That’s nice. … [visit site to read more]
Alice and Pip have been off wandering their way through digital worlds from Proteus to Sacramento and are now hobbling towards a shared definition of a walking simulator. Find out what conclusions they’ve reached and why their definition categorically does not include Dear Esther!>
Pip: Alice, when I asked you to recommend me your favourite walking simulators so I could go on some digital expeditions what would you say were your criteria?
Alice: That they surfaced readily in this trash heap of a memory? Which meant they struck me for some reason. I think I picked walking simulators with a spread of form and tone, all quite different but all games where you can mostly just walk around. Some fun! Some colourful! Some spooky! Some so linear they’re literally on rails.
Dear Esther may very well be the most famous walking simulator ever released, and also one of the best. Its 2012 release made enough of an impact that a remastered version called the Landmark Edition is in the works, and in October people who live in and around the great city of London will have the opportunity to enjoy it in an entirely new way: As a live on-stage performance.
Starting on a small beach, with only a brooding cliffs and a small lighthouse in view, BAFTA-nominated narrator Oliver Dimsdale takes you through the game, journeying from the desolate Hebridean island to a car crash on the M5, a crisis of faith of a guilty heart, the lost shores of a dreamed shoreline and a final ascent through the waters of madness to the release of flight, the play's description explains. With the playthrough of the game on-screen accompanied by live narration and a live performance of BAFTA-winning composer Jessica Curry s powerful score, the story is even more brought to life here.
I would absolutely attend this play if I could. I very much enjoyed Dear Esther in videogame form, and the chance to see a live performance by Jessica Curry, who composed and performed its soundtrack, would be worth the price of admission entirely on its own. And I think that having the interactivity, such as it is, taken out of the audience's hands will result in a very new sort of experience, too. Say what you will about walking simulators, but losing all control of your actions within the game world to basically be caught within another person's dream and to be forced to simply watch and listen may well lead to a very different perspective on what's happening.
Sadly, I won't be anywhere near the UK when the players hit the stage, but maybe someone will sneak in a camera. Dear Esther will be performed at 7:30 pm UK time on October 14, at the Milton Court Concert Hall. Tickets are 22.50 plus booking fee. Full details and links to book tickets for those of you who will be in the neighborhood are at barbican.org.uk.
BioShock isn't the only game that's about to be remastered for a new generation of hardware. The Chinese Room is updating its lovely, slightly spooky exploration-adventure game Dear Esther for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It's being badged as the Dear Esther: Landmark Edition, and will also be released to owners of the 2012 PC original as a free update.
The Dear Esther Landmark Edition is a faithful port of the Source engine original onto Unity 5, the studio said, with remastered audio, a new developer commentary track, additional accessibility options including large subtitles and a crosshair, multi-language menus and subtitles, and trophies and achievements.
The promise of achievements is bound to elicit a few snide giggles, as Dear Esther is widely considered to be the game that birthed the walking simulator genre a supposedly pejorative description of first-person games that lack interactivity. And it's true to a point: Dear Esther is, if you look at it that way, about nothing more than wandering around a rocky, windswept island while some guy blubbers in your ear. But it's a beautiful journey, filled with questions and ambiguity, the sort of experience you really take in, rather than simply finish. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's a great game, but it was absolutely groundbreaking in the way it challenged widely-held perceptions of what videogames are, and could be.
(Yes, I liked it very much.)
The Dear Esther: Landmark Edition update will be released in a few months. The console version comes out on September 20.
It’s been a good four years since the remake of Dear Esther [official site] took us to a spooky-ooky Hebridean island but we’re going a-wandering again soon. Remastered audio, an audio commentary from its makers, and more are coming our way thanks to a new version created for Dear Esther’s console release as a ‘Landmark Edition’ – which will be a free update on PC.
The next game from the creators of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs and Dear Esther will be a systems-driven isometric adventure, inspired by tabletop RPGs and wargames. I spoke to The Chinese Room’s studio director Dan Pinchbeck about the game, Total Dark, and he explained that he’s wanted to make a game driven by RPG-style mechanics for a long time.
As well as providing us with some of the first details about Total Dark, he discussed the continuing influence of Esther, and the ways in which ‘walking simulators’ are returning to their first-person adventure roots.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture [official site], the latest from Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs developers The Chinese Room, is finally heading to PC. I spoke to studio head Dan Pinchbeck earlier this week and he told me that the completed PC port has now been delivered to Sony, who will be acting as publishers. Sony’s role means they’ll be responsible for selecting a release date and marketing the game, as they did with Helldivers when it came to PC late last year.
But it’s coming. The rapture is coming.
It always seemed likely that The Chinese Room’s The-Archers-Do-The-Apocalypse follow up to Dear Esther would get a PC release eventually, both given that it was originally planned to before Sony waved a bunch of cash at them and because PC is surely its most natural home. However, the extent of Sony’s involvement created a great deal of doubt about whether they’d possibly de-exclusify it.
Earlier rumours that Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture [official site] had showed up in the Steam database are now being compounded by more apparent evidence, though absolutely nothing is for certain until there’s an official announcement. I really, really hope it’s true, though. … [visit site to read more]
1) Passivity makes me fidgety. Even in a film, TV show, gig or novel I’m hugely enjoying, my mind will at some point drift to the clock, wondering how soon until it ends, how soon until I can stand up or talk or check something or eat something or go somewhere. Awful, I know. Games, broadly, need me to be doing something most of the time, and that is the greatest weapon I have against a propensity to boredom that I am not at all proud of. This is also why I start to go spare in something like StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, as it spends so much of its duration pummelling me with particularly low-grade passive storytelling, and my frustration that I have to watch this nonsense instead of do things for myself goes through the roof.