Dear Esther

Dear Esther 1.0

A first-person exploration game set on a deserted island.
 
1.0 (See all)

Dear Esther is a first-person exploration game set on a deserted island. While the player cannot interact directly with anything in the game, movement through the 3D environment prompts snippets of narration, often related to what the player is seeing, that gradually reveal information about the island and its significance. Even with all these snippets, the story is far from clear, however.

Story aside, the game's breathtaking visuals seem to justify themselves, the way it would to visit a natural wonder just to take it in. Character movement is limited to the arrow keys; the control over jumping and crouching that 3D Unity games have gotten us all used to is absent here, but the player's view lowers automatically to enter small spaces, for instance. The path from beginning to end is quite easy to follow, although there are a few dead-end side paths that may reveal additional scenery and passages of speech.

Sam's Protip: According to a speedrun video I found (yes, the irony of such a thing for this "game" is quite palpable), it's possible to move faster by tapping right and left as one moves forward. I'd advise you take the time to look around instead.

Sam Lloyd
Editor rating:

Review summary

Pros

  • Intriguing story and gorgeous scenery make for high replayability
  • Hidden areas add mystery to exploration
  • Independent application; no longer just an HL2 mod

Cons

  • No direct interactivity with game elements
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