Dear Esther [Review]

  • Platform: PC
  • Published by: theChineseRoom
  • Developed by: theChineseRoom & Robert Briscoe
  • Genre: Adventure, Indie
  • ESRB Rating: n/a
  • Number of Players: 1
  • Release Date: February 14, 2012

I’ve played a few of the available Half-Life 2 mods and I was surprised with Dear Esther at the time it was first released. With the full game now available on Steam, it captures the same type of gameplay you experienced from that mod and it did not disappoint me. The concept of experiencing who the character is and their inner turmoil without having to fight off evil demons or develop skills toward defeating a certain boss was refreshing. I was used to going on long quests in Skyrim where I’d have to fight a bear or wolf, and had little to show for the travel once I got to my destination.

The sole character is shipwrecked and is haunted by the memories of his dear Esther.  You are introduced slowly to him as you walk around the island and read passages from different letters penned by the character to Esther. You simply walk around and experience the character’s moments of nostalgia and regret. The trek through the island is more of a retelling of what has happened with the character up to the point of being shipwrecked on that island.

The length of the game was short but told the story well. It took me about an hour to play through, but I found myself a tad emotionally connected to the character. It was as if he confided in me his innermost thoughts and I was the only one who could understand or hear them. The gameplay definitely sticks in your mind along with the beautiful scenery, even the caverns look pretty as they’re pained with fluorescent paint. The eerie glow captured the haunted look and created a spooky atmosphere with the ominous music and natural sounds of the ocean and island.

Overall, I thought it was nice not having to worry about enemies or points, and it definitely gave me a break from Kingdoms of Amalur and Shank 2. This is definitely a great game to pick up, but I’d recommend getting the mod for Half-Life 2 first and try it out. I really enjoyed playing this; although the gameplay is short, it makes up by giving you insight into someone’s mind as they are shipwrecked and wandering through an uninhabited island.

FINAL SCORE: 8/10

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