Dear Esther Reviews and more

Based on 23 critics – Overal Score: 77 / 100

GameInfo: The “desert island … a lost man … memories of the fatal crash … a book written by a dying explorer.” After two years of development, the long-awaited remake of the cult independent fashion, “Dear Esther” comes out on PC. “Dear Esther” immerses you in the realistic world of deafening, a remote and deserted island somewhere in the outer Hebrides. Once you have taken the first step, a voice began to read fragments of the letter: “Dear Esther …” – so begins a journey through one of the most original first-person games recently.
Leaving the traditional gameplay of the passage of the plot, “Dear Esther” discourages its beautiful surroundings with a spectacular music, to tell the great story of love, loss, guilt and retribution. Forget the usual rules of the game, and if something seems unrealistic, it is only because that all this may be an illusion. Why do we need this antenna? What happened on the freeway? A real island, or we come up with? Who is Esther and why she has chosen and called for here is you? The answers somewhere on a lost island in the open wind-swept cliffs and buried in the dark tunnels under the island … Or then again, all this is impossible, in the end … “Dear Esther” is supported by Indie Fund.

Critic Score
The Koalition Gamers have their own opinions on what constitutes a video game and how they feel about the “traditional” mechanics that make a video game what it is. These traditions are presented to gamers through countless titles of all the genres of the video game spectrum. The overall traditional viewpoint of a video game is that it includes a great deal of interaction, where the player is utilising some form of control to influence what is occurring within the gamespace. Interactivity within a video game is paramount to any gamer looking for a truly interactive experience where they feel they are in control of what happens. Read Full Review 100/100
The Electronic Farmyard Whether you’re a video-game developer, academic, a lowly critic or just a plain old enthusiast, gamers love to debate the legitimacy of video-games, in relation to art. In Dan Pinchbeck and Robert Briscoe’s ‘Dear Esther’, those looking to argue the artistic merits of their favourite past time, now have a game which has the potential to propel their argument further, more than any other game before it and here’s why. Read Full Review 100/100
TGH It seems like its been forever since we were last treated to one of those “Is this even a game” kind of games. The last was arguably Amnesia: The Dark Descent back in 2010. Now we have Dear Esther. Released as a simple mod back in 2008 and running on Valve’s Source engine, Dear Esther received a lot of attention, and with good reason. It actually garnered enough attention to be redrafted and remade as a fully fledged Indie title with its own Steam Store page and price. But just what is it? Read Full Review 90/100
EvilGamerZ I’ve been a fan of Dear Esther since it was a small mod for Half-Life 2 and now it has it’s own completely revamped, beautiful remake. This game came on sale today on Steam and I purchased it instantly, downloaded it and got to playing it.

This game is beautiful, the graphics are stunning and it really goes to show how versatile the Source Engine really is. The Source Engine has still got it! Read Full Review

SoLastGen Dear Esther was spawned as a Half-Life 2 mod that was nothing short of a critical hit in the modding community, then a year after it’s 2008 release, it was picked up by an artist who wanted to bring more vibrancy to the world. A year after that, it was being completely redone, from the ground up by a small team, seven people in fact. Then, again, a year after that we have it’s release, today. Honestly, this day is kind of a perfect choice for the commercial release of this bit of software, Valentines Day. Perfect, that is, to tell you a good story of love and loss, and a beautiful story at that. Read Full Review 90/100
VideoGamer The beauty of Dear Esther is that it raises questions about content rather than mechanics. It strips out anything that can get between you and what it wants to say, and every problem relates to how the game presents its story, and how effective that story is. We don’t have to worry about production values, or whether the whole thing will fall apart in a buggy mess. It’s what The Chinese Room wants to show you, and how you take what is shown. No barriers of entry. No obstacles. No guff. Read Full Review 90/100
Bit-Tech The struggle to define the difference between games and art has raged boringly in the background of the industry for many years now, with critics and creators drawing confident lines in the sand only for a tide of new releases to wash them away over and again. Is interactivity and firmly set rules what defines a game – and if so then how does that fit with sandbox games and the idea of player agency?

These are arguments that the commercial release of Dear Esther by TheChineseRoom, based on the 2008 mod of the same name, will dredge up again. Is this boiled-down tale of love and loss a game, or is it more of an interactive exhibit filled with unpredictable flourishes? Read Full Review

GamerZines There’s a school of thought that says games on the whole are getting better. Yet with the polished nature of most new releases also comes a stubbornness to stick with established precedents.

Like many other indie releases, Dear Esther flies in the face of such cowardice and offers an interactive experience which is unlike any other. Read Full Review

PCGamer Dear Esther provokes thought and feeling in a way few other games do. Stripped down to its constituent parts, there’s very little game here at all. But at the same time, it’s a story that only games give us the freedom to hear. Read Full Review 84/100
HonestGamers Dear Esther is barely a videogame by any conventional sense of the term and approaching it like one will lead to nothing but frustration. But if you’re lucky, it clicks, not as a game but as a powerful and moving emotional experience. Read Full Review 80/100
Edge Some commentators might argue that Dear Esther’s reduction of the firstperson shooter to a walking tour makes for a mechanical dumbing down of a richer and more mind-taxing medium. But one thing’s for sure: thanks to this astonishing overhaul, it’s now quite impossible to ignore. Read Full Review 80/100
Wired It’s clear from the very first moments of Dear Esther that you’re not playing just any old game. Your view fades in on the dank shore of a Hebridean island. ‘Dear Esther,’ the narrator intones. ‘The gulls do not land here anymore.’ Read Full Review 80/100
Eurogamer Is it a game? I can’t say I know the answer, but I do know that unless you’re an IGF judge or a prissy dogmatist who sets out to pedantically define the boundaries of an extremely fluid medium, then you shouldn’t really care. All that matters is that Dear Esther is worth your time – and that its two-hour long chill will remain in your bones for a long while after. Read Full Review 80/100
GameInformer Dear Esther isn’t suited for every gamer. In fact, suggesting the game to someone based off other titles they’ve enjoyed would be a mistake. Rather, the game is recommended for anyone who likes taking a close look at a piece of art that goes against the grain of the medium. Read Full Review 80/100
IGN Dear Esther is that rarest of things: a truly interesting game. It left me feeling pensive, mildly saddened, and confident that games have plenty of directions left to explore. If you’re interested in what can be achieved when you abandon the conventions of games and explore the fringes of the form instead, it’s a must-play. Read Full Review 80/100
BagOfGames Dear Esther is a morose interactive storybook which was originally a Half-Life 2 mod and now returns several years later as a retail release.
To appreciate Dear Esther you must be introspective, empathetic and patient. Read Full Review
Nerdemic Daniel finds himself alone on a deserted island, wondering exactly who this Esther is and ponders the point of everything with this cheap indie title. Read Full Review 70/100
NowGamer Dear Esther is refreshing to play. It’s something that doesn’t involve relentless smiting, and it’d be nice if other games could take a cue from its presentation and storytelling, so we never have to get embarrassingly wistful about Aeris’ death ever again. Read Full Review 70/100
Examiner Dear Esther started out as a Half-Life 2 mod that reached cult status when it was released in mid-2008. Developed by thechineseroom, with artwork from Robert Briscoe and Ben Andrews, Dear Esther dares to challenge the notion of what constitutes a video game. Read Full Review 60/100
IGM The past hour of my life has been spent running, well walking, around an island in search of answers. Answers such as how I arrived at such a place, will I ever leave and who might the woman named Esther be? These questions all dance around my brain with every step I take further into the world of Dear Esther. Read Full Review 55/100
Arcadyr Dear Esther slows external influence to a dragging pace. Imagine watching a movie, but you need to constantly hold down the play button for it to progress. It can best be described like a trip to an art gallery, and as you are walking around, the audiobook playing in your ears is quietly battling with classic ensembles echoing through the marble halls. A very enchanting experience, providing you commit. Read Full Review 50/100
BeefJack Dear Esther has no challenge, choice or competitiveness: it’s just a journey. There are plenty of things to see and hear and mull over in your head, but you have no impact on its world beyond the pace at which you follow its narrow little path. It’s hardly interactive fiction and it’s even less a ‘game’, but it feels quite happy not to have some niche to fit neatly in with. It is enjoyable to experience and soak in, but its unique offering is ultimately unsatisfying. Read Full Review 50/100
Destructoid Dear Esther is an experiment but it is a flawed one. I have to wonder, even if it were a short film, if its vague plot and predictable conclusion would be effective. The ironic thing is that the most pedestrian of stories can be convincing when coupled with intelligently applied interaction — something Dear Esther stubbornly stands against. It’s as if it wants to be a part of this wonderful medium of ours without asking itself why, which is exactly why you should seek it out and learn from its failures as a game enthusiast, critic, or developer. Read Full Review 45/100


System requirements:

Operating system: Windows XP / Windows Vista / Windows 7;
Processor: Intel core 2 duo 2.4GHz or higher
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Video Card: DirectX 9 compatible video card with Shader model 3.0. NVidia 7600, ATI X1600 or better
Hard disk: 2 gigabayta free hard disk space


Genre: Adventure, Indie, Casual
Developer: thechineseroom & Robert Briscoe
Publisher: thechineseroom
Release Date: 14 Feb 2012

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