What are your thoughts about it?

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#1 Edited by GeekDown (1170 posts) -

So I just started playing it and apparently I'm halfway through it. Just wanted to know what everyone thinks about it. I'm loving it and it's really like nothing else I have ever played before. The best way to describe it is like playing through a novel or a poem.

EDIT: So I just finished it and it took about an hour. I'm almost at a loss for word about it. It's absolutely amazing and I'm gonna play through it again as soon as I can.

#2 Posted by Aviont (20 posts) -

I have not played it, but saw it today on Steam for 10 bucks. It looks amazing and from the descriptions sounds like something I'd be into except... I have heard nothing about gameplay. All I hear is that the game is beautiful and the story is amazing.

#3 Edited by Droop (1831 posts) -

I found rather restrictive and underwhelming. Overall I enjoyed it. Took about one hour for one play through. I'll most likely play through it again at some point to see how much it actually changes. Looking through the game files it looks like there is 3-4 different variations of each dialog instance.

Visual and sound design is really amazing though, highly immersive game.

#4 Edited by mortal_sb (520 posts) -

first off: if you want to play this "game", i beg you: take some time. shut the doors. ignore the phones. dim or shut the lights. play it on the best and biggest screen you've got.

no spoilers: i'm now at the final chapter and i absolutely love everything about it. i'm going as far to say it that it will change the way videogames are designed and defined. i agree with saying that it should not be classified as a gamey "game". it's an interactive movie, poem or even just an observation. the narration, the look and music (if you like it, you should check out stars of the lid) remind me in a lot of ways of the movies by werner herzog or terrence malick. the story and it's movement have an ethereal like pacing to them and the visual and sound accents are so well placed. it's totaly absorbing in a way i have never experienced it in a "video game" before. the narrator is top notch and i like how they play with the things that are in the environment and the parts of dialogue that are then triggered. and man. this game is beautiful. i don't mean "pretty", this game has a soul.

i have to play the last chapter now. but right now, after the things i just did, this is an GOTY contester for me. (note: i love everything slow, i like ambient music and experimental movies like "uncle boonmee can recall his past lives") i can see many people be turned of by it and call it plain boring.

if you want to see where the medium hopefully is heading. give it a try. i think its 10 bucks or 7,99€ (what i paid). you owe it to yourself.

#5 Posted by ThePoark (56 posts) -

I just finished this. It's not a game -- all you can do is walk very slowly around a path. It might as well be on rails for all the good it does to have any control at all. You don't make any decisions -- there are no choices. Perhaps I'm a simpleton, but I found it to be incredibly pretentious. I kept waiting for something to happen, and all I got was a slow, broad walk along a trail with disjointed story fragments read to me, trying so hard to instill mystery and evoke some intrigue. It felt like a lot of bullshit, and I really wish I had my $10 back. I wish someone could help me understand the purpose of what I just "participated" in, but I know this much: I didn't just play a video game, nor did I feel satisfaction of any kind.

#6 Posted by Dustpan (1690 posts) -

From what I've heard it takes 1 hour to complete the game.

Doesn't sound like it's worth $10. I'll definitely pick it up when it goes on sale in the near future though.

#7 Posted by GloomyTangent (194 posts) -

It's not a game, and anyone who says that it'll change the way games are made is completely deluding themselves.

I saw someone describe it as "digital installation art" over on RPS, which I think is the perfect label. It's fantastic for what it is, and if you go in expecting something akin to walking through a museum and reacting to the different pieces as opposed to completing a game or even watching a movie, you'll probably really enjoy it. I did.

#8 Posted by Aviont (20 posts) -

Sadness, judging by the description of the "Gameplay" I think I'll be passing on this one ;( sounded like a neat little short Myst type game but apparently that is not it at all XD

#9 Posted by BasketSnake (1166 posts) -

I finished it in about one and a half hours. There are no puzzles. You walk from start to finish while you're fed the story. I was expecting to find something and having to solve some puzzles but even though that never happened I was more and more drawn to the overall visuals and the bits of story you're being told. Thirty'ish minutes in I didn't care about anything but walking towards the next exit and listening to the story which made little sense to me. And I really liked it. Play it in a dark room from start to finish.

#10 Posted by GloomyTangent (194 posts) -

@Aviont: I would encourage you to add it to your wishlist and pick it up in the next sale. It's interesting and short enough to merit playing through, although if you're on the fence 10 bucks is a bit much.

#11 Posted by Hunkulese (2652 posts) -

This has Humble Bundle written all over it.

#12 Edited by mortal_sb (520 posts) -

note: took me a litte more then two hours. i took my time with it.

i have a question about the ending. i don't now if this is wanted or if it's a bug.

was your ending also just a black screen and the sound of waves and seagull?. no credits, no change. just static black screen and sound?

#13 Posted by ThePoark (56 posts) -

@mortal_sb: In response to your question about the ending: yes.

#14 Posted by GeekDown (1170 posts) -

@mortal_sb: It was like that for me too. Not really sure if it's supposed to be like that or if it just didn't put you back to the main menu.

#15 Posted by GloomyTangent (194 posts) -
#16 Posted by mortal_sb (520 posts) -

@GloomyTangent said:

It's not a game, and anyone who says that it'll change the way games are made is completely deluding themselves.

i'm not naming directors like werner herzog, terrence malick (tree of life) or Apichatpong Weerasethakul's uncle boonmee just for fun. these people make some of the highest regarded art and arthouse movies and the world. and i see in dear esther the equivalent to these directors and movies. it's bold in its ambition to even go that far and dial down the speed of a video game which nowadays only exist on the concepts of fast movement, flashy visuals and overhauled gameplay mechanisms. i agree with the fact that you don't have anything to do in dear esther other then to explore... but what's bad about that? if you've seen the trailer, you know a lot what to expect. people have to understand that things like movies, music, books or games always have to be about something "entertaining". they're art forms that exist in various degrees. how they are executed (hello jack and jill) and what kind of audience they target is up to the director or the maker of the game. i get what they wanted to do and i praise them for their ambition.

if you liked it, you should check out RUINS by cardboard computer. http://cardboardcomputer.com/games/ruins/

#17 Posted by Hugh_Jazz (336 posts) -

I'd say, to anyone having bought the game who is now disappointed, that maybe you should have read WORD ONE about the damn thing. Shit, this came out as a Source mod years ago and that shit was pretty much identical to this, so how didn't you know?

I'm just saying. Too bad you feel like you wasted your money. I can easily understand how people wouldn't have the patience for this out of a game.

I do. I think it's fantastic. The latter half of the last chapter did nothing for me, but everything up to that point was gold.

#18 Posted by mortal_sb (520 posts) -

@GloomyTangent said:

@mortal_sb: Same here. I think it's intentional, to make it ambiguous

It seemed to me that it was suggesting that perhaps you did die after jumping off.
i'm not clear going this far. i'm not sure if i was even "alive" while i was on the island. i know he's talking about sitting beside this guy and everything. but there were so many hints that implicate that you're wrestling with the fact that you're not over it and how this all could've happened. the black screen surely implicates death, but what if the trip on the island was him being in a coma, trying to make sense of it all?
#19 Posted by DJJoeJoe (1318 posts) -

I don't have enough money in my paypal account at the moment to buy the game which makes me really sad, but I'm definitely into what dear esther is putting down and will grab it when I can.

Online
#20 Posted by GloomyTangent (194 posts) -

@mortal_sb: I'm saying that it's not going to change how games are made because it's not a game, that's all. If you want to say that it's going to be really influential on digital art, sure, I could get behind that. But not in games.

I never took it that you were playing as the narrator, although I think that's also open to interpretation. In my game it concluded with the narrator saying that someone else will discover the island and follow his path etc., which lead me to think that you're distinct from the narrator. Alternatively, you could be Esther herself, in a coma after the car wreck, and the end of the game is giving in, hence one of the final audio cues sounding like a flat line. That's just how I took it though, I think they did a good job leaving it open ended.
#21 Posted by mortal_sb (520 posts) -

@GloomyTangent said:

@mortal_sb: I'm saying that it's not going to change how games are made because it's not a game, that's all. If you want to say that it's going to be really influential on digital art, sure, I could get behind that. But not in games.

I never took it that you were playing as the narrator, although I think that's also open to interpretation. In my game it concluded with the narrator saying that someone else will discover the island and follow his path etc., which lead me to think that you're distinct from the narrator. Alternatively, you could be Esther herself, in a coma after the car wreck, and the end of the game is giving in, hence one of the final audio cues sounding like a flat line. That's just how I took it though, I think they did a good job leaving it open ended.

good thinking with the ending. could be a possibility.

because of the "game": i said it too that it's not a "gamey" game. but what defines games? what defines playing? what differentiates playing and experiencing? we can't think of games in the same form we did 20 years ago when mario and his pals were the big hits. i'm probably getting a bit annoying right now with drawing another comparison to movies and i'm sorry for that, but you have to see: the tree of life is nominated for a best picture oscar and won several other awards, including the most prestigious award of them all: the palm d'or. it's a highly artsy movie without a narrative storyline and demands a complex view and understand of the viewer and the world and opinions that surround him. there were even reports that people left the movie theatres because they could not understand what was happening! there's brad pitt on screen but what is the movie trying to say?!

we're still calling the tree of life a movie. a very good one even. why can't we call dear esther a game? because of the missing interaction? we're experiencing the same emotions and immersion a movie can give us. one thing that is super rare in video games and also fairly new. (for comparison FFVII or the ending to portal 1/2)

#22 Posted by buft (3302 posts) -

Doesn't sound like my cup of tea, I'm not a big believer in making things interactive just because you can.

#23 Posted by GloomyTangent (194 posts) -

@mortal_sb: It's more akin to an art installation where you're walking through various sections that are ambiguous and different to every person than to a movie, which is where your Tree of Life comparison breaks down. "Game" implies a win condition along with a set of codified rules. You could argue that Dear Esther has rules based on movement, and a win condition of reaching the ending, but I think that's pretty weak, especially given the fact that the ending isn't really an ending. It's more of a 'fuck you, you don't beat this. You experience it.' For an example of something that is both a game and digital art, take a look at Flower. It has codified rules, and each section has a distinct win condition.

#24 Edited by mortal_sb (520 posts) -

@GloomyTangent: i understand what you mean but i'm just not so keen on these "rules". it depends on why you play games. for fun or to win. (that's a pretty narrow definition, i know. you can do both too) but i noticed that my taste in this regard has changed in the last couple of years. i don't have much time to play nowadays so i'm more into the fun and experience aspect. playing mw3 in mp would be torture to me. anyway. good talk.

#25 Posted by ShadowConqueror (3050 posts) -

Does anyone know if all the narration is the same as in the mod version?

#26 Edited by Oni (2095 posts) -

I just played through this and have no idea what to make of it. Like, is it good, is it bad? Did this need to be interactive at all? I'm leaning towards probably yes, but it's not 'fun' in any sense, or even all that interesting as an interactive experience. Some more interaction would've made it a lot easier to stomach the slow pace, even if it's just picking up and looking at objects. But then I guess the point is that you're ethereal, that you're not even sure if you're actually there.

SPOILERS! (how the fuck do I spoilertag?)My read was that the island was a person's subconscious. Whose, I couldn't say. I will say I'm pretty sure you're not playing as the narrator. But hell I could be wrong, I don't know. Possibly Esther's subconscious as she's in a coma. It says 'come back' if you go into the water and you see flashes of the accident, just as you see the accident site earlier on in the caves.

Whether 'you' die at the end or not I'm also not sure. I'm thinking no? You see a bird's shadow and fly away, possibly leaving 'the island' behind. Then again the last note kind of sustains like a flatline.

Regardless, if you have any interest in the medium you should play this. Even if only to find out where you stand on this kind of thing. If you finish it, I'm pretty sure it will stay with you for a while, even if you hate it. I didn't hate it, I didn't love it either. I couldn't even begin to review this as a conventional videogame, with a score attached to it. But I'm glad I experienced it.

#27 Posted by SlightConfuse (3963 posts) -

so its a visual novel thats all style

#28 Posted by Zace (92 posts) -

Sounds not like my cup of tea. Rather be engaged than told a story to

#29 Posted by GloomyTangent (194 posts) -

@mortal_sb: The thing is that I do lots of things for fun. But without codified rules and a win condition, that doesn't become a game. You have to have some kind of conflict, either against another player's agency (a competition) or against the rules themselves (a puzzle). This has neither form of conflict, so it's not a game. I enjoyed it, but just because it's interactive and I enjoyed it doesn't mean that it's a game. It's okay to like it as digital art too man. It doesn't diminish either it or video games in the slightest.

#30 Posted by GloomyTangent (194 posts) -

@Zace: It's extremely immersive, and the sense of place is amazing, so in that sense it is engaging. If your favorite part of skyrim was wandering around and puzzling out the bits of backstory about the places you found, you'll enjoy this. Whether or not that makes it a good deal is a different matter.

#31 Edited by AhmadMetallic (18955 posts) -

I wanna go through this thread but I'm really afraid of a single sentence somewhere that might spoil something for me, so I'll refrain. 
I always enjoy supporting PC developers who push the tech forward and believe in the platform, so I just picked it up.  
 
@mortal_sb said:

note: took me a litte more then two hours. i took my time with it.

I'll do the same then!
#32 Posted by Breadfan (6589 posts) -

@Oni said: 

I just played through this and have no idea what to make of it. Like, is it good, is it bad? Did this need to be interactive at all? I'm leaning towards probably yes, but it's not 'fun' in any sense, or even all that interesting as an interactive experience.

That's basically how I feel after just finishing it.
#33 Posted by GloomyTangent (194 posts) -
#34 Posted by Breadfan (6589 posts) -
@GloomyTangent:  
 
#35 Edited by emem (1961 posts) -

I think the level design is absolutely amazing... it's a beautiful "experience". It actually managed to make me feel like I was reliving the blurry final moments and emotions of someone else and that's really rare. Imho Dear Esther is something special (no more, no less), but I can imagine that it might be a bit too heavy for kids and not perfect for people who expect to "play a game" either. 
 

@Breadfan

said:

@GloomyTangent:  
 

#36 Posted by Dtat (1623 posts) -

It's very very interesting. Worth the 10 bucks because of how unique it is.

#37 Posted by MrKlorox (11208 posts) -

Man that world  looks good! I wanna populate it with anomalies and go shooting packs of dogs with my pistol.

#38 Posted by mortal_sb (520 posts) -

@MrKlorox: haha yeah! stalker came in my mind too.

and damn, i say it again: the source engine never looked better. this game looks so amazing. i'm excited to see if what valve is doing with it next. or if there's a new revision for the next half life game. awesome times ahead!

#39 Posted by Winternet (8007 posts) -

I'm super excited for playing it. I hope I don't get disappointed.

#40 Edited by Hugh_Jazz (336 posts) -

@ShadowConqueror: To my memory my first playthrough yesterday differed in a lot of ways from what I'd played of the mod(admittedly a long time ago), though some lines were the same. Dunno if they increased the number of different lines at all.

EDIT: I should note I haven't played the mod nor the "game" several times, so I can't speak to the amount of variety. My point was that, if all the lines are randomized and almost all of them differed from my playthrough of the mod and the "game", that says something.

#41 Edited by ghostNPC (761 posts) -

I really don't think I've seen a more beautiful looking thing in my life. Was beyond impressed at this rendering of the original mod. A very singular experience; though you need to be in the mood and mindful of what this is, as in, this is Not a game. It's unfortunate that people seem to be choosing to refer to it as such and judging its quality based on that assumption. It's too bad that something like this will be impossible to avoid.

#42 Posted by yoshisaur (2664 posts) -

Didn't enjoy it. I had a lot of people telling me to try it out because it is this "new thing," but as soon as I picked it up and played it for around 20 minutes, It just didn't interest me. It felt more like a visualized novel than it did a game.

#43 Posted by august (3827 posts) -

Just booted it up and the artistic improvement from the original mod is highly impressive. One thing I don't like is having subtitles on by default, however.

#44 Posted by asmo29a (149 posts) -

The visuals and the music(!) are awesome. The narrator's VO is great.

This does not need to be interactive at all, in fact I think it suffers from it. It would have been okay as a 15-30min machinima, it's not so okay as a thing where you have to walk yourself. And walk the whole way back at that creeping speed if you dared to stray off the beaten path just do discover that, in almost every case, there's nothing there to see.

I'm also no fan of the "plot". There is some clever stuff in there and it's great when a game (or a movie) has deep athmosphere and some story fluff to it that didn't necessarily have to be there. But ~90% of this are made up of atmosphere and fluff, the actual plot is not very substantial and not even very imaginative or interesting. Some parts also got way too artsy and pretentious for my taste.

Different? Definitely. Worthwhile? Not really. And the value proposition of 10$/8€ for sitting 74 minutes in front of your home PC screen just sucks, whatever the content.

#45 Posted by Ethan_Raiden (341 posts) -

Absoutely fantastic game.
 

#46 Posted by RagingLion (1363 posts) -

It was a blissfully melancholic experience for me. I know I’m atuned and receptive to the tone that Dear Esther creates and therefore it meets me in a way it wouldn’t for everyone, but what I personally got out of it was a very memorable experience that surpasses what I experienced playing the original.

And I have to emphasise that the caves section for me was without hyperbole the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in a game – just utterly, utterly beautiful. I was frequently mouth agape, just saying “wow”, and complemented by the music those moments were really special.

The deliberate walking pace that is all Dear Esther allows meant that at the end someone who was watching me play said “I just feel like I’ve walked across an actual island this evening” and we had. In a very real way we had made that journey that felt like a real-life one. I’m still trying to piece together what I think about whether it delivered everything as effectively as it could and whether the randomisation of audio clips and a deliberately obfuscated story makes sense as a methodology, but wow, what an experience it all was.

@ShadowConqueror said:

Does anyone know if all the narration is the same as in the mod version?

There have been some new lines recorded and written compared to the original though I don't think a large percentage. The narration is randomised of course though so there's all kinds of line in there that you might not have heard in the original either depending on if you played it a few times.

#47 Edited by MikeLemmer (534 posts) -

I think it's very situational. You need to be in the proper mood, at the proper time, to really enjoy this game. I'd suggest a night you have 2 hours without interruption, one of those slow nights where you feel a little melancholy. Dim your lights and start it 30-45 minutes before sunset. Play the entire game in one go. Trying to buy & play it immediately is akin to watching a horror movie in broad daylight.

Posted a more in-depth review of it here.

#48 Posted by kishinfoulux (2256 posts) -

@Breadfan said:

@Oni said:

I just played through this and have no idea what to make of it. Like, is it good, is it bad? Did this need to be interactive at all? I'm leaning towards probably yes, but it's not 'fun' in any sense, or even all that interesting as an interactive experience.

That's basically how I feel after just finishing it.
Anyone else notice a figure walking off in the distance at some point?

Yes near the beginning right? Heading up a path or something I believe. I went to follow "it" but when I arrived it was a dead end. Creeped me the fuck out.

I feel torn on this game. On one hand it sort of aggravates me that I see gaming press/reviewers praising this game to the high heavens. For one I think it sets the bar way, way too high for someone coming into it not knowing what to expect. It also just strikes me as the "cool" thing to do. All in the "in" people like it, or so it would seem.

That being said I can't deny that the mood and atmosphere were very well done. The music is great and I felt rather tense, at many points. I was never sure if something was going to happen or not. Oddly enough this game is probably a more effective "horror" game then a lot of others that claim to be just that. I think for $10 it's worth it. Play it with the lights off and headphones on. Don't let yourself be disturbed. for an hour or two. Just take it in. It's not for everyone, but I think it's worth trying out at the very least.

#49 Posted by Blommer4 (191 posts) -

What's the differences if you play this game again? Will it be different at all, or just all the same with different music now and then?

#50 Edited by Spark (46 posts) -

@Blommer4 said:

What's the differences if you play this game again? Will it be different at all, or just all the same with different music now and then?

Different narration, different objects, different wall paintings. It can alter how you interpret the story.

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