Dear Esther: Landmark Edition | Review
Dear Esther: Landmark Edition is a remarkable accomplishment when you consider its origins as a mod, but I personally don’t relate to the large amount of critical acclaim it’s found in the industry. Stick around for the developer commentary though, fascinating stuff!
The Good
  • + The island is full of underlying details
  • + Developer commentary gives an insight into its incredible development journey
The Bad
  • - Sadly it’s a bit too abstract for me
  • - Its lack of a sprint button results in a sluggish venture, prone to incite boredom

Want to look beyond the score? Check out the full review below…

Start Replay: “An Empty Spectacle”


Initially created as a Half Life 2 mod back in 2008, Dear Esther’s origin is fascinating. Its passionate fanbase has stuck by it and ensured its continued existance; paving the way for a full remake in 2012, and its latest iteration on home consoles today. However, despite all this love that Dear Esther fans clearly hold, and the critical acclaim, for me it simply isn’t all that interesting.

First of all, the game features zero interaction of any kind, and is often referred to as a ‘walking simulator’. As you travel across the edge of a deserted island, at walking pace might I add, a mans voice tells of a tragic tale. How engaging you find this is dependant on your ability to fall in love with Dear Esther’s writing and story. That’s all there is to capture your imagination, and you need a creative mind if you intend to fully understand the journey you are led on.

Now I’m not saying ‘if you’re thick, you won’t get it’; the fact is that Dear Esther is too abstract for me to personally retain any interest. Unlike its developer’s latest game, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, which I loved thoroughly, this short tale of 4 chapters was a bit of an anti-climax. However, despite lacklustre experience, I did relish the opportunity to turn on developer commentary. Hearing the development studio discuss in detail their creative decisions, helped me appreciate the game more than I thought I could. Its creation truly is inspiring and I can see why many people adore this game, but at the end of the day, whether because of my high hopes or ignorance, Dear Esther just isn’t my cup of tea.

About The Author

Joshua Ball

Meet Josh. As the head of Start Replay his overall objective is to keep things moving. Alongside ensuring that content is made on a regular basis, Josh loves attending and organising the many press events and expos that crop up. His favourite video games consist of the Arkham series and Metal Gear Solid, but there’s always room for a bit of horror. Follow Josh’s sparse tweets on Twitter or, alternatively, be sure to catch him in the crowd of the next big gaming event.

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