Dear Esther Review

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Dear Esther Review

Dear Esther is a haunting, unique game that favors narrative over gameplay.

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Dear Esther is both Art and a Game.

Some people ask why the Mona Lisa is famous; this game isn't for them.

Those that can see her smile will love Dear Esther.

I played the original when it was really visually basic. It sounds like it has been given a fresh coat of paint. :) The original was compelling as all hell, and this sounds to be no different.

What makes this game has, above any other medium, is the story told through the environment.

Unlike any other medium, this game can draw you in and show you a story, as well as telling it to you.

No other game has truly drawn me in so much that I genuinely felt that I was on this lonely island, trying to unravel it's meaning.

Like Firia, I played the original a while back. I liked the idea, but it was somewhat... sloppy. It's good that this iteration is out and hope that they have, at it appears, improved upon the original's shortfalls.

WMDogma:
abandoned by the shepards and farmers who used to live there

I think you mean "shepherds". Someone's excited for Mass Effect 3, methinks :P

this reminds me of just a book. put to a game surrounding so you explore what the narrator is saying and im excited at that prospect. like audio book is reading it this seems like a further step. may i just say it looks amazing and those graphics make me want to cry. i'd love to just spend all dday on that island i may pick it up if it gets cheaper as i don't want to pay 6 pounds atm (starving student) but i like all about this

visually a very good looking game, this is what skyrim should have looked like

it is really interesting, only downside, it is to expensive for such short walk.

but can we even call this game? there is no gameplay at all. you are experiencing a story in a virtual world, but you aren't interacting with anything. it is what you can call a virtual experience, but for some reason we are still calling it a game...

No he was actually refering to Commander Shepard.

"I'm Commander Shepard and this is my favorite abandoned island on the Citadel."

Dear Esther is amazing, but it's not a game. It's an interactive story. It's completely drowning in atmosphere with it's beautiful scenery, brilliantly delivered poetic narration and unbelievably stirring music. The story also leaves a lot of questions to ponder and has far more to it than meets the eye. It more than warrants more than one run through. But that's no problem, it only takes about an hour to get through. Gamers should experience Dear Esther, along with everyone who is interested in unique forms of storytelling, but do not make the mistake in thinking that this is a game. There are no mechanics given to you to complete any kind of goal. It should not be thought of as a game, but it is something that really should be experienced.

blackdwarf:
it is really interesting, only downside, it is to expensive for such short walk.

A short walk through Disneyland will cost you a lot more than 7.

but can we even call this game? there is no gameplay at all. you are experiencing a story in a virtual world, but you aren't interacting with anything. it is what you can call a virtual experience, but for some reason we are still calling it a game...

image

Similar controls, no interaction...if that's a game...

image

Less controls, no interaction, still a game.

Your interaction in this is also your movement - that's why it fools a lot of people.

Will wait for it to be on sale...

Did anyone here play Trauma? Also a narrative story, but with actual puzzles to solve!

blackdwarf:
but can we even call this game? there is no gameplay at all.

The "Gameplay" here is very subtle in that it takes place outside the game itself. You're not trying to save the princess or kill all the terrorists. You're basically trying to figure out what this place really is. Who are Esther and Donnally? Who painted these symbols all over the place? What do they mean? Is this place even real?

Of all the games I've played it gave me a feeling most similar to Myst. That feeling of wonder at exploring and finding new bits about what this place actually is and trying to fit those bits together into some kind of coherent whole.

The reviewer is right though. This game just won't click for a lot of people. It's much more cerebral then your common game. Anyone going into it expecting action and cheap thrills will be sorely disappointed. With the proper mindset however, this is a beautiful and fascinating experience.

blackdwarf:
it is really interesting, only downside, it is to expensive for such short walk.

but can we even call this game? there is no gameplay at all. you are experiencing a story in a virtual world, but you aren't interacting with anything. it is what you can call a virtual experience, but for some reason we are still calling it a game...

How can there be no gameplay? What you just said makes no sense.

sshakespeare:
visually a very good looking game, this is what skyrim should have looked like

Fun fact. That's the Source Engine. Compare the mod release to the commercial release.


Same engine, different years. And Source can still manage to produce fantastic results.

I don't know that I'd quite call it a game, honestly. It's more like a an artsy movie but with less pretension. But it's not really a movie, because you actually control the player. I'm not sure what to classify it as.
Except maybe an extremely interesting experience.

The_root_of_all_evil:
Dear Esther is both Art and a Game.

Some people ask why the Mona Lisa is famous; this game isn't for them.

Those that can see her smile will love Dear Esther.

I think you mean... those that can see the genius behind her weary smile
and the deliberate screw-ups in the scenery behind her will love Dear Esther.

Yeah... it is indeed a work of art.

This is exactly the kind of thing I love to rub in people's faces when they tell me either...

A) Games don't or can't tell engaging stories.

B) Games, as a whole, can never be art.

or

C) All of the above.

Dear Esther is one of those wonderful games that so brilliantly proves them wrong.

Dear Esther is utterly beautiful, although I agree that it's not for everyone. That said, I've yet to talk to someone who didn't marvel at the intricketly crafted atmosphere of the caves. Whatever you think of the narrative, the enviroment is enough to make even the likes of games such as Skyrim envious.

Soviet Heavy:

sshakespeare:
visually a very good looking game, this is what skyrim should have looked like

Fun fact. That's the Source Engine. Compare the mod release to the commercial release.


Same engine, different years. And Source can still manage to produce fantastic results.

It's no secret that Valve was well ahead of its time with the Source engine. Portal 2 is a testimony to that.

blackdwarf:
it is really interesting, only downside, it is to expensive for such short walk.

but can we even call this game? there is no gameplay at all. you are experiencing a story in a virtual world, but you aren't interacting with anything. it is what you can call a virtual experience, but for some reason we are still calling it a game...

Interesting that you should raise a monetary issue. This is actually cheaper than going to a movie in my local theatre. Also, if you buy a cup of coffee and a snack at Starbucks, you'll also pretty quickly come to this price. With that in mind, I think such an emotional journey is a steal at this price.

Dear Esther has a greater sense of place than virtually every other piece of interactive media I've ever encountered. It reminds me of the two weeks I spent on Orkney Islands, and the inherent kind of melancholy the place seemed to have.

'Esther' replicates those feelings frighteningly well.

nice review, but could you please not put (what sounds like) a spoiler in the last 10 seconds of your review?

at least mention it before it starts. i'm still going to play this game and now i feel like i already know something i should not

Saxnot:
nice review, but could you please not put (what sounds like) a spoiler in the last 10 seconds of your review?

at least mention it before it starts. i'm still going to play this game and now i feel like i already know something i should not

It's not a spoiler, Saxnot. That scene happens in the first few minutes of the game.

Greg

Greg Tito:

Saxnot:
nice review, but could you please not put (what sounds like) a spoiler in the last 10 seconds of your review?

at least mention it before it starts. i'm still going to play this game and now i feel like i already know something i should not

It's not a spoiler, Saxnot. That scene happens in the first few minutes of the game.

Greg

oh, ok. in that case, never mind. it just sounded like something of a reveal

I've just played through Dear Esther, I'm amazed. With little to do beyond walking around and taking it all in, I found myself looking in every tiny place, looking at the details, the circuits, the chemicals, the breath-taking scenery - just amazed. I had to keep going - my imagination was in overdrive.

There are many more games which I'd sooner give up on. This has no puzzles, no weapons, no enemies but is really engaging.

At times I was looking for a run button, but now I've been through it once, It still haunts me and I'm glad I didn't rush it.

Ah, I hear new dialog. May have to buy it.

--

My opinions are mixed.

I'm a bit of a horror fan and picked this up figured it would be a decent bit of surrealistic, cereberal horror. I wound up not playing it yet because from what I've been reading the devs more or less came out and said shortly after it's release that the game is a giant troll and there is no sense to any of it.

Anyone can just throw a bunch of stuff out there, point some arrows between it to make it seem like pieces of a puzzle, but never actually have any meaning. I've seen that done on a number of occasions, and really I don't find that a way of someone trying to be faux-artistic when they can't do the real thing. See, part of what makes art, art, is that it has meaning even if it's not immediatly obvious, and the artist can explain to you what it means or is trying to say if you can't figure it out. Something that relies on the viewer to insert their own meaning or interpetation without any intended meaning it more of a psychological exercise than a work of art. A lot has been written on the subject.

See, if there was actually a mystery to be solved here, with clear answers, I'd be interested in piecing it together, but just wandering around waiting for sense to be made that will never really come?

Someone referanced The Mona Lisa, but that's a little differant. The Mona Lisa is by all accounts an inside joke by Davinci and some of his friends, it had a meaning, but one that can't be divined by someone outside of his long-passed peer group. It stands as a solid work by a master that makes people wonder simply because it's context is long gone.

Of course then again, I think the mystery was solved a while back, but wasn't as exciting as the speculation. I was reading a while back that someone was able to prove by the notes of one of Davinci's associates that the "secret" of the Mona Lisa was that it was a self portrait of Davinci when he was in drag. I believe this was mentioned in "The Davinci Code" but hasn't really ever been popularized. I've never cared enough to check it out in more detail. Apparently the joke was Davinci looked differant enough and carried off looking like a girl well enough that even when he was right there nobody that didn't know him could figure out it was a self portrait, so he'd flash it around and have people going "huh, who is she, and why is she smiling".

I enjoyed it as an experience but I wouldn't call it a game. Still a nice artistic statement though.

This looks like a perfect game for the "Two Best Friends" to play.

Keneth:

blackdwarf:
but can we even call this game? there is no gameplay at all.

The "Gameplay" here is very subtle in that it takes place outside the game itself. You're not trying to save the princess or kill all the terrorists. You're basically trying to figure out what this place really is. Who are Esther and Donnally? Who painted these symbols all over the place? What do they mean? Is this place even real?

Of all the games I've played it gave me a feeling most similar to Myst. That feeling of wonder at exploring and finding new bits about what this place actually is and trying to fit those bits together into some kind of coherent whole.

The reviewer is right though. This game just won't click for a lot of people. It's much more cerebral then your common game. Anyone going into it expecting action and cheap thrills will be sorely disappointed. With the proper mindset however, this is a beautiful and fascinating experience.

this is maybe a matter of opinion but figuring out a story in your mind i do not call gameplay. for me gameplay is the mechanic you interact with to go trough the story. shooting people of solving puzzles are example of those. in dear esther however you are only walking. that is the only interaction you do. but you aren't interacting with the world itself. you are just following a path and you are getting a story told.

Farther than stars:

Soviet Heavy:

sshakespeare:
visually a very good looking game, this is what skyrim should have looked like

Fun fact. That's the Source Engine. Compare the mod release to the commercial release.


Same engine, different years. And Source can still manage to produce fantastic results.

It's no secret that Valve was well ahead of its time with the Source engine. Portal 2 is a testimony to that.

blackdwarf:
it is really interesting, only downside, it is to expensive for such short walk.

but can we even call this game? there is no gameplay at all. you are experiencing a story in a virtual world, but you aren't interacting with anything. it is what you can call a virtual experience, but for some reason we are still calling it a game...

Interesting that you should raise a monetary issue. This is actually cheaper than going to a movie in my local theatre. Also, if you buy a cup of coffee and a snack at Starbucks, you'll also pretty quickly come to this price. With that in mind, I think such an emotional journey is a steal at this price.

hmm, i guess you have a point, but maybe this happened because i was comparing to other games, and maybe that is the same as comparing apples and bananas.

The_root_of_all_evil:

blackdwarf:
it is really interesting, only downside, it is to expensive for such short walk.

A short walk through Disneyland will cost you a lot more than 7.

but can we even call this game? there is no gameplay at all. you are experiencing a story in a virtual world, but you aren't interacting with anything. it is what you can call a virtual experience, but for some reason we are still calling it a game...

image

Similar controls, no interaction...if that's a game...

image

Less controls, no interaction, still a game.

Your interaction in this is also your movement - that's why it fools a lot of people.

i cant say anything about the first picture because i don't know it. the second one i guess is a dodge game or something? in that case, dodging is gameplay. you are trying to dodge so you can survive longer to get higher points or to get to a ending.

and i want to make clear that i really liked dear Esther for what it trying to do. my reason to bought it was to support such risky thing. ok, i found it a bit expensive, but some people already made comparisons with stuff besides games, in which they have a point. it is really something interesting, but the moment i finished it, i was asking myself if i could call it a game.

really a beautiful game. finished it in 2 hours after i downloaded it. i have to admit, that i expected to solve some puzzles by interacting with objects and the environment but well, i still had a good time.
the cave is really the most breath taking chapter of the whole game. at times i was just standing there admiring the surroundings.

its for sure this game is not for everyone. but its something different instead of shooting things down all the time.
havent played it second time though, so i would not know if the environment has changed.

Breathtaking little game, especially the bit in the caves. Definitely something in favour of the position of 'games can be art', too. Hard to believe a game that restricts its gameplay to the most basic of movement controls can be a more satisfying experience than the majority of AAA titles with multi-million dollar budgets behind them.
Also, I'm in love with the soundtrack... I can't stop listening to it.

For people saying 8 Euros is too expensive for a game that'll last you 90-120 minutes on a single playthrough... consider what you have to pay nowadays when you go to the movies.

Sonicron:

For people saying 8 Euros is too expensive for a game that'll last you 90-120 minutes on a single playthrough... consider what you have to pay nowadays when you go to the movies.

point taken about the movie part, but you actually know that a movie mostly is between 90 min to over 120 min long. do you like to sit there for over 3 hours watching a movie? i sure dont like that, and i love watching movies.
hell, i nearly wanted to walk out of the cinema (and others too) when i saw the last lord of the rings movie. now this was really too long.

with games you expect more then 6 hours at least. even when you pay 10$ for it. im not saying im regretting spending this money, but i did expect a longer playing time.

Sonicron:
For people saying 8 Euros is too expensive for a game that'll last you 90-120 minutes on a single playthrough... consider what you have to pay nowadays when you go to the movies.

So you're saying if you need to pay 8 euros for apples, oranges should also be 8 euros?

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