Dear Esther: Landmark Edition
Top Critic Average
Dear Esther, You are a brief experience, but you were ever worth my time.
Dear Esther: Landmark Edition is only $9.99 on PlayStation 4, and if you’re a fan of Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture – the spiritual successor to this game – and want to see where it all started, then this is a game you have to play.
A hauntingly immersive experience which may not be as exciting as the average game but four years on it's still a beautiful piece of art. If you haven't played it before now is the time to pick it up.
While Dear Esther is visually captivating, it amounts to a little more than a countryside slog in every other aspect.
Dear Esther has always challenged the definition of what it means to be a game, but the way that it controls the placement of the narrative with the player's advancement through the world creates an experience that can only exist within a game. The environments and the score create a world that's a little more like experiencing a classical art museum rather than a traditional game world. The audio commentary from the developers provides a nice little addition that really cements this as the ultimate release of Dear Esther.
Clocking in at just over an hour, the experience provides a great look into the beginnings of the narrative exploration genre. I just don’t find the look to be entirely compelling on its own merits.
While touted as the first member of the “walking simulator” genre, there is something to be said about the mood and tone that Dear Esther evokes through what you see and hear. As a chill and explorative experience, it delivers a coherent narrative more than another recent hit (or miss) No Man’s Sky. Even if you don’t know what you are doing, it is a structured, and directed, storytelling experience.
I admire Dear Esther for what it did, when it did it. It was a novel concept that came from the humblest of beginnings. Unfortunately, the product of it all is short and unenjoyable. It feels like a dream in the worst way. It’s confusing, fatiguing, and the feeling of relief comes when it’s over. In that way, they couldn’t have done a better job.
Dear Esther has grand ambitions. On one hand, these were achieved. On the other, Dear Esther never reaches it full potential and results in a game that’s good, not great.
A beautiful early example of the narrative driven 'walking simulator' brought to life with stunning graphics and the same intriguingly muddled narrative as its become famous for.