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Dear Esther: The Chilling Review

March 18, 2012

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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5 comments

  1. Ghostofeazye - April 15, 2012 8:55 pm

    Wow, none of you got this game.

    Reply
  2. ScrotusKilmystr - March 19, 2012 7:00 pm

    I remember you talkong about this before and thats when I saw the original HL2 build there’s a ton of footage on you tube to check out if your curious like I was after reading this I am tempted to check it at for if anything because it’s something different

    Reply
    • thsoundman - March 19, 2012 8:40 pm

      Yeah it’s fantastic… the more I think about it the more I like it. I think it would be cool if they turned the ‘game’ into something of a set of ghost stories. Stories that you can walk through much like that one. Would make things interesting and if they can match the visuals of this one. It will be well worth the price of admission.

      Reply
  3. IronJade - March 19, 2012 7:55 am

    You explained it well enough, it was originally a HL2 source mod before. They re did it creating and entire engine to run it and all. It is gorgeous graphically but that is due to the linear type of style its run as. Awe inspiring as it is, I would love to hear what folks who have played both have to say. I have not tried the new one so I dunno.

    Reply
  4. thsoundman - March 18, 2012 10:28 pm

    I should also note that this game ran beautifully on my machine. I’m running AMD Phenom 965 X4, 8GB DDR3, Radeon 5970, Asus Xonar Sound Card at a Resolution of 5760 x 1080 and it ran flawlessly in the wide open and incredibly complex environments and I had all settings maxed. I suppose the best way I could describe this story would be to call it a ghost story… because that is what it is. It’s hard to explain the game without trying the game.

    Reply

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