Dear Esther: The Chilling Review

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If you’re here you prob­a­bly saw this game on Steam or heard about it from a friend.  I should prob­a­bly start out by say­ing this isn’t really a game, not in the tra­di­tional sense really, as there is lit­tle or no player inter­ac­tion other than walk­ing through the map.  The game and story are drawn out by nar­ra­tion of  sev­eral indi­vid­u­als.  The dis­tinc­tion between them seems to blur as the game goes on and it’s left up to the player to inter­pret who is actu­ally talk­ing to them.  Hav­ing said that I found myself very intrigued by this game and it sucked me in from begin­ning to end.

As men­tioned above the story is dri­ven purely by nar­ra­tion and the player is left to put the pieces together.  The story takes place on one the unin­hab­ited Hebridean islands.  As you progress through the map you will see many things writ­ten on the wall, many items and objects in the envi­ron­ment that give clues as to what hap­pened there.  The game actu­ally puts you on the edge of your seat dur­ing cer­tain sequences as things are tense even though they are calm.

While Dear Esther may not be a game in the tra­di­tional sense of the word it is eas­ily one of the most beau­ti­ful games I have ever played.  There is a sec­tion of the game that takes place inside a cave and I can say I have never been more in awe at the detail and beauty ever ren­dered on a screen.  Cyan Worlds, the devel­op­ers of Myst, should take notes from these guys or higher them on because I have never seen some­thing so beau­ti­fully rendered.

The images of the game are made that much more impres­sive with the sound that goes with them.  Going back to the caves the sounds that accom­pany them just make thing ‘haunt­ingly beau­ti­ful’.  The sound of the water hit­ting the shore, fall of water into a pit in a cave, burn­ing of fire, sounds of your foot steps, rat­tling of chain link fences and the music all come together to make a very engag­ing  and immer­sive atmosphere.

The only real prob­lems with this game is that it was very short, as in 2 hours, and I would have liked to get a lit­tle more story or seen maybe a few more envi­ron­ments.  Some of them just brought chills to my bones.   That all being said the $9.99 price tag is worth the price of admis­sion.  I’m curi­ous to know what some of our read­ers thought of this ‘game’.  Did you guys enjoy it?  If any­thing I would encour­age all of you to watch the slide show of the images.  They are  sight to behold.  I took them in Eye­fin­ity 5760 x 1080.

Dear Esther

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