Dear Esther: Landmark Edition | PS4 Review.

Monday, 15 February 2021


Publisher: The Chinese Room, Curve Digital
Developer: The Chinese Room, Robert Briscoe
PS4 Review

I have been slowly clearing my backlog and Dear Esther was on the top list of games to complete, it's not my usual game, there isn't much to it but the story behind it is a very sad one that I was able to experience and play through in one sitting. I have had a mixed response to the game some people enjoyed it yet others found it boring, I'm the former! it's hard to deny that the game is visually stunning, a lot of thought has gone in the surroundings and how best to envision yourself walking through the Island making it easy to be distracted and wonder off which is a good thing as it will prompt dialect to add to parts of the story.

As I mentioned you're on an Island in the Hebrides (Scotland) which is eerily quiet, far too quiet if you ask me as you walk along you come across text spoken from a brothers point of view to his wife Esther, you learn of how he ended up shipwrecked and stuck in such a beautifully cut of Island but there is no inkling of where you need to go or what you need to do next. The context of the writing is meant to represent the era the game is set in (the 18th century) as you can imagine it was plagued with illnesses and poverty was riot and being cut off from other people trapped on an Island with barely anyone else there the man narrating and writing to his wife must have felt very lonely at times without the her.


It's obvious early on that the game doesn't have much else to offer but it's surroundings and the story of the narrator, yet it had me wanting to know more I often found myself looking out to see at the lighthouse in the distance just because it felt comforting, it made me wonder how else the people who lived on this Island felt and how they would spend their days. You will find that the game often leads to dead ends and pushes you towards the only logical place to continue with dialect, I kept going back on myself sure i missed an opening only to realise I was going in the wrong direction.

Whilst the game is breathtaking, It's important to listen to the narrator otherwise you will be clueless as to what some areas are and who lived there, the sad state of buildings help you image who was once there working on the land, the narrator describes the occurrences which helps with imaging what once was much like countless books I have read except this was an interactive tale. The silence that draws you in at times can be deafening whilst pulling at your heartstrings knowing that the people who were here once are gone and not many people may know about them or miss them at all, it's clear this Island is haunted by the past even though you are the only one around.



Don't expect to come across anyone else whilst exploring, the game isn't about who is there but instead focuses on who once LIVED there, the history of the Island and the narrator's love for his dearly loved wife moulds the story together and it's your job to unearth what he has to say and what happened on this Island. For those who use subtitles much like myself there is an option to use them or turn them off, you enable them by selecting closed captions in the menu and you can take them off or put them on at anytime, I advise people to keep them on as you won't miss hear or miss out on anything the narrator says. I could imagine living on this Island, cut off from any toxic and stressful things life would try to throw at me, it made the perfect place to live the simple life off the grid and I doubt I would ever want to leave if I was stuck there with the ones closest to me that is.

I started Dear Esther knowing it was a short game, I wasn't expecting much from what it had to offer yet finished with a sense of achievement and happiness, I find that the best kind of games can often be the most simplistic and calming ones, we all need to unwind sometimes right and Dear Esther is perfect for this. Due to it being a walking simulator game it will put people who enjoy an action packed adventure off, don't write it off because of this look past the words walking sim and instead focus on the narrative and in depth beautiful world you will get to explore, the soundtrack changes the mood tremendously at times, especially when anything to do with death is mentioned.


What's interesting about Dear Esther is that it was originally a mod for Half life 2 but the developer decided to create a stand alone version of the game, he rebuilt the game in Unity and created something that is a very laid back and unique to say the least. Dear Esther is one of many beautiful developed walking sims that stands out in my mind and I came to enjoy more than I every thought I would, if I was to compare it to any other games I would say Gone Home and Everybody's Gone to the Rapture are on par with it. If you're looking for a nice chilled evening with a game be sure to check out Dear Esther, it's beauty brings a lot to the table.


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