Dear Esther is Short, But Sweet.

Probably one of the shortest games you will ever play (about 1-2 hours max.) but well written and it shows what can be achieved with the now dinosaur, Source engine.

What an accomplishment for such a very short game, created with the aging and outdated Source engine. When you see what has been done in this game with that old Half Life 2 engine, you will be more amazed at what was done, than anything Valve (the creators) ever did, or others like the Portal series did with the Source engine. 

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This is Source? You are kidding right? The adept use of textures and lighting in this game are nothing short of beautiful. Especially on such an old engine. This engine is considered a dinosaur in the gaming industry, but it is also free and quite well written obviously. Apparently it is easy to write for as well and that’s why people like it and still use it. When used to it fullest, the graphics and control are almost as good as any other well made modern engine. 

As for game play in this game? Get ready for this….. There is virtually none. What I mean by that is simple. There is NO combat. There is also NO use button or interaction with objects. This game is first person, open world, but it is very linear and straightforward with the story. It is almost completely story driven.

It has actually been argued as being “not a game at all” which may be true, to some extent, but you cannot help but appreciate what the makers were trying to do here. Something very different. A graphical, first person short story, if you will. Other reviews are quite good for it and given the chance, if you are in the mood for a REALLY casual, laid back game, this may be it. No monsters to worry about, no puzzles, nothing. Some might even consider it boring, but the story is the emphasis here, not so much “game mechanics” and if you know anything about Dear Esther you know it is exactly that. A short, poetic, good story. 

You walk around a deserted island exploring as the story unfolds, with full voiced narration. The story is  the primary focus of the game, and it almost forces that issue. It’s not a bad thing though.

The score/music is very good. It sets the mood well. The graphics are quite amazing actually. The whole package gives a very good feel for “being deserted on an island” and unravelling a mystery as you travel. It’s still hard to believe that this was done on a decade old engine. The sky is amazing and the narrator makes sure to draw your attention to it.

My wife played it, she enjoyed it quite a bit, and I watched her play right through. So, the story mixed with the adventure  must be good because neither my wife nor I got bored with it. It has sold 850,000 copies, so it it can’t be that bad, albiet very short.

We want more! We also want it for less than $10! C’mon, really? $10 for a 1 hour game? If it were $5- $6 ok, it is at least worth that much, absolutely. For $10 though, I want a bit more game than this. Wait for one of Steam’s many sales and it can be picked up for under $5. Especially in the Summer months. Steam has crazy sales in the Summer because they are desperate. 

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Dear Esther is Short, But Sweet.
Probably one of the shortest games you will ever play (about 1-2 hours max.) but well written and it shows what can be achieved with the now dinosaur, Source engine.

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Author
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billd75
Hardcore Gamer from North Bay, Ontario, Canada. Mainly PC games, but I do have a Xbox 360 and a Wii.