To me, a good game has to have a well told story. I don’t care about fancy graphics, multiplayer and unlockables. Give me a game with a story that grabs me by the ears and drags me in, and I’ll be happy. With this in mind, can Dear Esther pull of this feat of epic proportions?
It’s been quite hard to class this game; it’s in first person perspective, but there’s no obvious objective, goal, or even anything to interact with. Upon first starting this game, you open to a very run down cottage, and a voice reading out a letter to a woman called Esther. You then move your character around a deserted island, trying to figure out what you’re here for.
I don’t want to go too much into the story, for two reasons. One, it’ll give away spoilers, and two, it’ll ruin the game’s core feature; it’s ambiguity. As you travel across the island, searching various areas and structures, you hear a voice over read more letters to this Esther.
It doesn’t tell you what to think of the situation, or what your character thinks; you decide for yourself, and you make your own interpretations. It’s the kind of story that can be discussed with other people who have played the game, giving your opinion on the plot. Soon as I started playing, I was enthralled. I wanted to carry on to its conclusion. Not many games have ever done that.
Graphically, it has a very atmospheric feel to it. As you’re walking around, you notice a lot of minute details: from a flashing tower in the distance, to carvings on the rock, and even the beautiful water effects. I spent a lot of my time just admiring the locations and décor. It’s very easy to get lost in the beauty of the landscape.
Now while it may be a negative to have such a minimalistic game in this day and age, Dear Esther has some very good points to it. This is not a game you play; it’s a game you experience. You feel genuine intrigue, sadness and other such emotions as you play it.
It is said that most things people enjoy have a section that is reserved for people with an acquired taste: Music has its experimental electronica, movies have art house and film noir, and even drinks have their fine red wines. And this is what Dear Esther can be classed as: it’s the fine wine of gaming.
Pour yourself a glass of your most aged plonk, sit in a comfortable chair, and let yourself get lost in the story and bittersweet melancholy of Dear Esther
Dear Esther is available on Steam priced $9.99, for more info visit