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Dear Esther: Landmark Edition

The Chinese Room
Sep 20, 2016 - PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5

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Game Revolution
2.5 / 5
4.5 / 10
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7 / 10
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3 / 10
80 / 100
2 / 5
Gaming Nexus
9 / 10
Push Square
5 / 10
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Dear Esther: Landmark Edition Media

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Dear Esther: Landmark Edition Teaser

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Critic Reviews for Dear Esther: Landmark Edition

As a fairly big defender of the "walking simulator" genre, I feel really let down by Dear Esther. It needed more of something, whether it be a better story, more gameplay than wandering, or more interaction with the island. Definitely needed more than a feeling of "huh" when it ended.

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Still, some people will find meaning and depth in what Dear Esther delivers. I envy that. The linchpin of these games is to develop a connection with the player. Along with that connection comes emotion. Dear Esther is simply too disconnected from itself to ever connect with me.

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Throughout its very short 90 minute run time, Dear Esther creates an atmospheric and engaging experience that begs you to keep playing. If you’ve played it before though, the director’s commentary is all that’s new for the Landmark Edition.

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Dear Esther may have played a huge part in the growth of interactive drama, but it remains an acorn compared to the trees it helped grow. It’s an ultimately shallow game, one that rattles off a story directly without any finesse or attempt to integrate it with the gameplay.

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A beautifully animated walking simulator. I recommend that you give it a play, because it really is quite a different experience from most mainstream, fast driven, AAA games. It reminded me of a form of meditation because it was simply that immersive.

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Dear Esther is a boring slog with little narrative payoff. Although it does encourage an ideal of "interpret as you will", it lacks the foundation and support to drive discussions of death, life, and grief to the point to which it strives. Fortunately, the experience is short, cheap, and a good boost to an achievement score, but beyond that, is worth a pass.

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There’s a reason why Dear Esther spawned the “walking simulator” genre. It was the first, and is still one of the best, exploration games you can play. On your second playthrough, however, the directors commentary is why you're really here.

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It's clear that the “walking simulator" genre has moved on since its birth child four years ago. The antiquated gameplay has been surpassed by the likes of Gone Home, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, and Firewatch, and the visuals are just as murky as a Scottish rainfall. There are far more and much better narrative-driven experiences to be had in 2016, and so Dear Esther: Landmark Edition feels like a bit of a relic in this day and age.

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