- Game: Dear Esther
- Release Date: February 14, 2012
- Publisher(s): N/A
- Developer(s): TheChineseRoom
- Genre(s): Adventure
- Platform(s): PC, Mac
Dear Esther is a very unique, independent game. The game is centered around a story, and that story is ambiguous at times allowing for the player to use their imagination to deduce the outcome. There are no real goals for the player to achieve, no decisions for the player to make, just walking through an island and learning the narrator’s story. The story is narrated by the character which the player plays as, he has no name but from what he says, it is assumed he is the husband of the Esther from the game title. The story is told through letters which are written by the narrator to Esther and range from straight forward to very vague. There are very few characters, one being the narrator, others including: Esther, a cartographer named Donnelly, a man named Paul, and a man named Jakobson. None of these characters are seen or talked to in the game, only talked about by the narrator. The game itself is driven on the narration and the story, because of that I will not be divulging any further information on the story, as to avoid spoiling the entire game.
Dear Esther lacks actual gameplay, all the player can do is simply walk through the island on various paths and listen to the narration as it is triggered.
Dear Esther is not graphically high-end based on quality, but the scenery and setting are absolutely stunning. The game has beautiful scenery, making the player feel as though they are there on the island experiencing these events since it feels very familiar and natural. The foliage and surrounding nature of the island are well done, giving the player the the ability to relate to the realism. The narrator delves into a cave at one point in the game, and this cave is a very beautiful experience. The aesthetics of the cave are amazing: the sound of dripping water, the sheer amount of stalactites and stalagmites, the glow of crystals in the walls, and the running waterfalls throughout the area. The game itself has a brilliant soundtrack. A mixture of instrumental piano and violin, the sound of waves and waterfalls, and a soft breeze blowing throughout the game are what make up the audio, along with the narration. The simplicity of the surroundings and music intertwined made for a marvelous experience, in addition to the story.
For what the game was, it was simply amazing. I expected to be somewhat bored when I realized all I would be doing was walking around listening to a man talk, but I was proven wrong. Dear Esther made me what to know more, as I was playing I wanted to keep moving so that I could learn more of what the narrator’s story was. I was blown away by how simple yet amazing the soundtrack was as well. The cave scene is one of the most visually amazing scenes of any game I have ever player. It was just so well done. The game itself seemed so simple yet so complicated, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t played it before. I would recommend this game to anyone who likes a good story and awesome in-game aesthetics.