Dear Esther Review

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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

But one could argue that saying the the voice over is random is. And the bit about the car crash, though not as much. It's just that it's a game that's best experienced with a blank slate.

When I think about games as art, the games that come to mind are games like Deus Ex, Bioware's RPGs or the Legacy of Kain series - Games which are not just games. but experiences - not games that try to be out of the box by not letting you do much.

With that said, this game looks like it might be interesting to experience but I have to ask the following question: Is there much of a difference between watching a playthrough on youtube and playing it yourself?
The review leads me to believe that this is a linear game with few chances of extra exploration where all you get to do is walk around.
While I am a fan of story driven gameplay, this looks like it might be better to experience as a film, rather than a game.

Metalrocks:

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.

Under normal circumstances I'd completely agree with you, but seeing how this game feels (at least to me) like walking through a slightly randomised film I thought the analogy held up. Who knows, maybe the fact that I went to the movies to nights ago and felt gipped for paying 13 Euros for a bad flick factors into my point of view here.

Imbechile:

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?

How would I know, I'm not a fruit farmer. :P
As for the reasoning behind my original statement, I refer you to the answer I provided directly above. Sitting through Dear Esther, which felt like a sort of interactive movie to me, cost me 8 Euros and was immensely satisfying, while just recently I felt ripped off for paying 13 Euros for seeing Ghost Rider 2 (which kinda sucked).

Sonicron:

Under normal circumstances I'd completely agree with you, but seeing how this game feels (at least to me) like walking through a slightly randomised film I thought the analogy held up. Who knows, maybe the fact that I went to the movies to nights ago and felt gipped for paying 13 Euros for a bad flick factors into my point of view here.

lol,from this point, you are right. it is cheaper plus you are in control of the movie. but still, a game is a game, you do expect a longer playing time.
havent seen ghost rider 2 yet. i rather wait till its out on dvd. still thinking of watching underworld 4. not that i expect much of it but well, lets just see.

Doom972:

With that said, this game looks like it might be interesting to experience but I have to ask the following question: Is there much of a difference between watching a playthrough on youtube and playing it yourself?
The review leads me to believe that this is a linear game with few chances of extra exploration where all you get to do is walk around.
While I am a fan of story driven gameplay, this looks like it might be better to experience as a film, rather than a game.

A great deal of the game is an exercise in atmosphere, the kind best experienced by sitting behind the controls yourself. You could watch a walkthrough at get almost the same end result, but it wouldn't have the same fun of feeling like you're really exploring the island. Even though you don't actually physically interact with anything, just being there walking and listening somehow gives you a much better sense of contribution and ownership to the story that films can't really provide.

Plus the randomized dialogue is pretty cool if you want to replay it, since it can actually change quite a lot.

Saxnot:

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

That line was actually from a little later on in the game, but I wouldn't say it's particularly spoilery. One of the trickier parts of putting together this review has been figuring out what constitutes as a spoiler considering the random nature of the narration.

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.

As a person who can see her smile, I feel fine saying I still don't know why it's as famous as it is. But then, the art world (marketing, pricing, popularity, etc., as opposed to the art itself) often perplexes me.

This game actually sounds interesting. So where is it distributed at?

CkretAznMan:
This game actually sounds interesting. So where is it distributed at?

Steam only I think.

OT: I bought this game as soon as it came out, played it in one night and LOVED it! Now if only The Stanley Parable could have a change as big as this one I would be able to die happy!

blackdwarf:

i cant say anything about the first picture because i don't know it.

There's this thing called Google...

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.

Night Driver. You have to drive through the landscape to get to the end...

Here's another game:
image

Here's a simpler one:
image

Dear Esther is a more complicated version of this; with better view, a randomised monologue, a storyline and a haunting soundtrack.

Why does that make it so difficult to call it a game?

The_root_of_all_evil:

blackdwarf:

i cant say anything about the first picture because i don't know it.

There's this thing called Google...

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.

Night Driver. You have to drive through the landscape to get to the end...

Here's another game:
image

Here's a simpler one:
image

Dear Esther is a more complicated version of this; with better view, a randomised monologue, a storyline and a haunting soundtrack.

Why does that make it so difficult to call it a game?

Ok, you have a point here. The examples have given are indeed the same in idea. and when are saw those last two pictures i instantly thought they were games. So yeah, maybe dear Esther is a game, but i for me it didn't feel like one, because i was more focused on the story and environment. I wasn't thinking at all about finding the correct way. So maybe that was the reason why i hadn't the feeling i was playing a video game.

Dear Esther is quite simply amazing. Not just for the beautiful, poetic, metaphor heavy dialogue nor for the haunting soundtrack or the stunning graphics. No, Dear Esther is amazing because it attempts something bold, something new and something frankly quite risky... and yet it works, it works so well.

As said in the review, Dear Esther is NOT going to appeal to everyone, in fact its target audience is probably quite small. But anyone can find enjoyment in this game if they keep an open mind. If you play games mostly for the story, as I often prefer to do, this will be a real treat.

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...

Let's see...

- It's made in the Source engine, used for making video games.
- It's distributed through Steam, a platform for the distribution of games.
- The player must use keyboard controls to control a digital avatar within the game.
- It has a start point and a goal, which means there is an objective.
- The player has an effect on the world, dialogue will play depending on where you go and no single playthrough will be entirely similar.

I would say that those points more than make it worthy of the title of game. There is still interaction required from the player, however small. Dear Esther requires an enquiring mind to physically interact with it before it's content can entertain. You cannot simply sit and watch Dear Esther, you must interact, explore, discover and experience.

As for the price, regardless of the amount of coin in anyone's pocket, I believe the developers deserve every penny of it.

blackdwarf:

So yeah, maybe dear Esther is a game,

Maybe; I'd say it is.

but i for me it didn't feel like one, because i was more focused on the story and environment.

I think this is the thing with some of these more nebulous concepts. If a five year old splashes paint on a canvas, is it art?

I wasn't thinking at all about finding the correct way. So maybe that was the reason why i hadn't the feeling i was playing a video game.

That's also another great pitfall, how much can you take away from a game while still leaving it as "a game"?

Is Audiosurf a game? If so, why isn't Winamp? Could you make Winamp into a game?...huge nest of questions.

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 Ģ7.

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 still wouldnt call it a video game in the traditional sense. Im not sure I would call it a game at all. As for posting pictures of other "games" - well, maybe those arent really games too?

Not that theres anything wrong with Dear Esther. I havent got my hands on it yet so I cant say. It looks very intriguing though, and its definitely something I will be buying in the near future.

I don't know.. it looks interesting, but it doesn't look FUN or overly enjoyable. From what I've heard of the narrator he just seems to spew mostly nonsensical monologue about, albeit in a pleasant tone, but that just gets on my nerves.

And I've never really been huge on the whole exploring for the sake of exploring thing.. Seen it once in a game, seen it all.

I don't know, I want to like it, but for that price tag, it seems unreasonable to pay for a game I may not even enjoy.

I'd like to sing the game's praises, too.

And I'll tell you what I enjoyed most. In the words of the review: "You might be startled by a bird roosting in an empty, dilapidated house, or see an ominous light emanating from a distant cave, only for those moments to be absent your second time around." I won't go into further detail about other examples beyond those two given, but, in essence, the small events that randomly transpire really wake you up, mostly due to the fact that you aren't expecting them.

The first one I came across literally made me shiver, and for a minute I thought I was seeing things. Even knowing that there are no enemies (besides the narrator's seemingly shattered psyche) and that you simply cannot die, I began to feel unnerved.

It's always the little things that do it for me.

Still can't believe I paid $10 for this piece of shit. Ripped!!! Great atmosphere but that's all its got going for it. Under an hour I was done and no payoff - how this thing gets plaudits (such as this 4-star review) is beyond me. A neat idea that could've been so much better. Didn't know this originated as a mod. If I did I would've just got that instead or watched a Youtube Let's Play.

double post

Yeah, an artistic experience that'll cost me Ģ7. Also I didn't know that the escapist reviewed mods now.

Hold up a sec, this game was made off the source engine and released initially as a mod and developed into a full game, but still a mod. Wait another minute. The university of Portsmouth? Hampshire? The one that I'm going to in the autumn? When you look at it we discover that Britain is full of pretentious game designers.

DeeJayTee:
I'd like to sing the game's praises, too.

And I'll tell you what I enjoyed most. In the words of the review: "You might be startled by a bird roosting in an empty, dilapidated house, or see an ominous light emanating from a distant cave, only for those moments to be absent your second time around." I won't go into further detail about other examples beyond those two given, but, in essence, the small events that randomly transpire really wake you up, mostly due to the fact that you aren't expecting them.

The first one I came across literally made me shiver, and for a minute I thought I was seeing things. Even knowing that there are no enemies (besides the narrator's seemingly shattered psyche) and that you simply cannot die, I began to feel unnerved.

It's always the little things that do it for me.

lol, true, at ship cemetery, i was sure i saw someone in the far distance. when i walked there, nothing. it was just a little path leading to a dead end.

kordo:
Still can't believe I paid $10 for this piece of shit. Ripped!!! Great atmosphere but that's all its got going for it. Under an hour I was done and no payoff - how this thing gets plaudits (such as this 4-star review) is beyond me. A neat idea that could've been so much better. Didn't know this originated as a mod. If I did I would've just got that instead or watched a Youtube Let's Play.

you dint get the meaning of the game from the looks of it. did you expect a happy ending, or getting XP or what?
so the game isnt for you, but doesnt mean its shit. the ratings the game gets are true. i can name several other games out there were the rating is way to high.

Metalrocks:

kordo:
Still can't believe I paid $10 for this piece of shit. Ripped!!! Great atmosphere but that's all its got going for it. Under an hour I was done and no payoff - how this thing gets plaudits (such as this 4-star review) is beyond me. A neat idea that could've been so much better. Didn't know this originated as a mod. If I did I would've just got that instead or watched a Youtube Let's Play.

you dint get the meaning of the game from the looks of it. did you expect a happy ending, or getting XP or what?
so the game isnt for you, but doesnt mean its shit. the ratings the game gets are true. i can name several other games out there were the rating is way to high.

What is there to get? Paper thin storyline anyway. Have my own thoughts on what it all means to me, just expected more out of my tenner. I liked The Path and bought this expecting something like it but this is just not as engaging to me. Ah well, at least it's better than Dinner Date ay?

Oh just found out the same team are doing the next Amnesia. Quite liked the atmosphere in Dear Esther so I'll be very interested in this.

So it is myst?

bdcjacko:
So it is myst?

Myst had gameplay. This has none.

kordo:

bdcjacko:
So it is myst?

Myst had gameplay. This has none.

hold on...so it is worst than Myst? Definite pass.

This game may not have interaction but this would constitute as a game, maybe not one that everyone is familiar with but this is a game. It has a goal, you have control over someone, you have a story given to you as you progress.
Myst had puzzles which this game does not have so is some senses it is like Myst but in other senses it is not like Myst.

Or at least that is what I think.

My buddy downloaded this. I wouldn't call it a game. It's more like a book with a tech demo.

Just finished playing it.

Was a nice experience, nothing amazing, but different enough for me to feel satisfied.

bdcjacko:

kordo:

bdcjacko:
So it is myst?

Myst had gameplay. This has none.

hold on...so it is worst than Myst? Definite pass.

Missing the point 101. Chapter one. Paragraph one. That's you.

Duffeknol:

bdcjacko:

kordo:

Myst had gameplay. This has none.

hold on...so it is worst than Myst? Definite pass.

Missing the point 101. Chapter one. Paragraph one. That's you.

How is knowing a game isn't for me missing the point.

I played a few minutes of this on an old desktop a few days before it went kaput.

Never re-installed it on a computer, though, just never came to mind. This looks even more compelling and interesting than that first mod I played all that time ago. I can't help but think this is the kind of game I wish the CryEngine was being used for. Shooters are nice, but too hectic to really appreciate the detail involved, imo. Not enough downtime.

Probably gonna pick this one up.

(side note- I'd really like to see Yahtzee review this game)

To me this game felt like a very bad book being read aloud while i explored some uninteresting enviroments where nothing ever happens. I fail to see why this game is getting such positive reviews, everything is overly convoluted and filled to the brim with purple prose. I have a probem with this game/story on so many levels. Everything is so bleak, empty and overly serious. There doesnīt seem to be any room for anything resembling humanity. I just really hated every second of this game, itīs basically everything thatīs wrong with games trying to be taken seriously outside of gaming circles.

I really like this game, it reminds me of a simple time, before every game on the market had to feature some kind of action for players to enjoy. If you like this title, check out "The Stanley Parable" which also is a HL2 mod that will require plenty of playthroughs... Just like this brilliant piece of gaming art.

This looks like a very interesting first person experience. Might buy it and see if it is really amazing as many people have already said.

Mr. Ebert, I humbly present you Dear Esther.

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