mikelemmer's Dear Esther (PC) review

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  • mikelemmer wrote this review on .
  • 9 out of 9 Giant Bomb users found it helpful.
  • mikelemmer has written a total of 43 reviews. The last one was for Transistor
  • This review received 2 comments

A Story for Melancholy Moods

Download Size: 1.5 GB

Time to Finish: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Most Impressive Level: The Caves

Price I'd Pay: $5

Steam Price (2/15/12): $10

Like a good horror game, Dear Esther insists upon being played at a certain time: a half-hour before sunset, with the lights dim, when you won't be interrupted for 2 hours. It is for thoughtful times, those periods where you don't feel like doing anything but pondering the path you've taken so far. It's not so much a game as it is remnants of a story you silently wander through, tracing the routes and memories of a man.

The man narrates to you throughout the game, starting the moment you wash ashore onto an apparently-abandoned island. It takes a moment to learn the controls: you can only walk & look. There is no interaction, just movement and observation, listening to the man as he explains what he did here, or what this reminds him of, or something not related at all. You are soaking in a story, and although there's a few pieces of it you can seek out or just ignore, for the majority of the game you simply follow the path towards your destination. The journey is the point here; I won't go into the what, lest it ruin your enjoyment of it, but instead the how.

A Pool of Bitter Dreams

The narration is good if perhaps a tad too subdued, and the music is properly atmospheric ala Portal or Half-Life 2, but the graphics during the last 2 levels deserve major kudos for beauty & atmosphere. It manages a few jaw-dropping moments out of something as simple as a cave with a pool, or a moon overlooking a harbor. It's a pity the first 2 levels look similar & mundane in comparison; I think they could've been condensed into one level without losing any story or appreciation for Abandoned Island in Daylight.

So, were the graphics and story worth it? It depends. This is an unusual "game", a situational one whose enjoyment relies on your current mood more than any fun mechanics stored within. If you're still interested in it, I would suggest you check it out. But not immediately. Instead, wait until it goes on sale and store it someplace safe, until the time comes when you're in the proper mood for it. Like a fine, rare wine, it is consumed quickly; save it for an occasion you can savor it.

2 Comments Refresh
Posted by Cincaid

Nicely written review. Sadly I can't justify spending $10 on this (unemployed yay), but maybe I'll enjoy it whenever my money situation is looking better.

Posted by ghostNPC

Couldn't have said it better; excellent review.

Other reviews for Dear Esther (PC)

    Dear Esther Review 0

    Dear Esther is a walk through a story game created by The Chinese Room. In this game you are going to be walking around and through an island that is apparently deserted and as you go a story will unfold in front of you.Graphically this game looks amazing, the atmosphere of the island draws you in and all you want to do is take more steps along the beach, up the path, through the caves, and even in to some of the abandoned structures.The music coupled with the music is probably the most hauntin...

    1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

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