PC Gamer

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.

PC Gamer

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.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

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.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

screenshot of Dear Esther in which it is quite dark

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.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

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.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

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]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

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.

… [visit site to read more]

Aug 18, 2015
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Warning: in this piece I’m primarily talking about Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, which isn’t out on PC as yet, though I’ll willingly devour at least one item of clothing if it doesn’t walk this way eventually. Anyway, I talk about STALKER and Dear Esther too, so everything’s OK.>

Playing The Chinese Room’s new game, Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, what strikes me almost immediately is not the mystery, the science fiction trappings or even the extreme prettiness. It’s that I’m in England. A very particular England. … [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Perhaps the prototypical walking simulator, Dear Esther is a source of some division among the RPS Hivemind – John’s not at all taken with it – but I often catch my mind’s eye returning to its maudlin Hebridean coast. … [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

I've returned to this particular Proteus island many times. But am I simulating walking or exploring or wandering or dreaming or?

I’ve discovered a novel way to conduct interviews: tweet vaguely about something you’re interested in, then wait for two game designers you like and respect to have a chat about it and send you the logs. I carefully laid my bait: “I use ‘walking simulator’ warmly and earnestly. I adore walking around looking at stuff and reflecting. Walking is great! Sim it to the max.”

The trap snared my chums Ed Key and Ricky Haggett. Ed created walking simulator Proteus while Ricky is working on Hohokum, a dicking-about sim for PlayStations which might, with fewer puzzles, be called a walking simulator. Unsuspecting, they discussed Proteus, the ‘genre,’ exploring and wandering, and what a “walking simulator” even is. Afterwards they decided “Just email it to Alice,” rather than blog about the chat themselves. “She can turn it into ‘news,’” they said. Suckers!

… [visit site to read more]

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