Dear Esther: Landmark Edition
Top Critic Average
Developer: The Chinese Room
Genre: Interactive Story
Two years in the making, the highly anticipated Indie remake of the cult mod Dear Esther arrives on PC. Dear Esther immerses you in a stunningly realised world, a remote and desolate island somewhere in the outer Hebrides. As you step forwards, a voice begins to read fragments of a letter: "Dear Esther..." - and so begins a journey through one of the most original first-person games of recent years. Abandoning traditional gameplay for a pure story-driven experience, Dear Esther fuses its beautiful environments with a breathtaking soundtrack to tell a powerful story of love, loss, guilt and redemption.
Forget the normal rules of play; if nothing seems real here, it’s because it may just be all a delusion. What is the significance of the aerial -- What happened on the motorway -- is the island real or imagined -- who is Esther and why has she chosen to summon you here? The answers are out there, on the lost beach, the windswept cliffs and buried in the darkness of the tunnels beneath the island… Or then again, they may just not be, after all…
Dear Esther: Landmark Edition Teaser
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.
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.
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.