Retrospective: Dear Esther

Developed by The Chinese Room, Dear Esther is probably the best example of art and video games converging that currently exists. This game does an immaculate job of conveying the feeling of being completely alone and isolated from everyone and everything.

Dear Esther is a first-person adventure game that is completely narrative driven. Finding yourself on an abandoned island, the narrative is conveyed by a voice over reading letters that you supposedly wrote to a lady named Esther. The story is completely open to interpretation and the experience will change depending on the person playing. I found the story, combined with the visuals and audio design gave me an intensely chilling, slightly unsettling sense of calm.

The game looks visually stunning and is hands down the best use of the Source engine to date. The developers have put an insane amount of thought and detail into their work here, so far in fact that the way the various textures just seamlessly meld into a piece of art, rivals and outclasses any AAA title out there today hands down.

Not only does Dear Esther look stunning, it also sounds stunning. An incredibly calm yet eerie instrumental score accompanies you as you attempt to explore and make sense of the ramblings of the narrator that seem to get more and more disjointed as the game progresses.

Originally being a mod for Half Life 2, Dear Esther is quite short, leaving me wishing it could be maybe a little longer. That being said, I can’t think of any other hour long games that left me with such an awesome chill for a few hours after the conclusion.

Dear Esther may not appeal to some but you will definitely find enjoyment out of this title if you enjoy an unconventional narrative. For me it’s one of the best indie titles I have played this year and I highly recommend spending just an hour or so of your day to experience this fantastic little game.
The Chinese Room are currently hard at work on Dear Esther‘s spiritual successor Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, an exclusive for PlayStation 4.

Official Game Site
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Dylan is an ambitious digital artist and game developer, often heavily caffeinated, Dylan has been an avid gamer since Crash Bandicoot and is currently developing a sci-fi horror game titled "Caffeine".


  1. Really nice piece! Going to have to check it out at some point!