Nearly all the games I review are going to be from Steam because I am a Valve fanboy.
The game is hard to describe. It's hard to say if it's even a game. It's an interactive story where your character will provide monologues at random intervals as you walk around. Though, the only interaction that's provided is movement keys.
The story is given through the mentioned dialogues, with each playthrough being different as the monologues are randomized. There are also small events that are randomized in the game though you have to have a careful eye to notice them as they are small and easy to miss. Their significance is also lost if you aren't paying attention to the monologues.
Unfortunately, I cannot tell much of the story without spoiling it. What I can say is that it's about a man on an island, and the monologues he gives are portions of the letters he has written to a woman by the name of Esther. The story is vague and will leave players to their own interpretations of what is going on.
And it is a strange island.
The environment itself is gorgeous. Some of the best and well-designed areas I've had the chance to explore. The atmosphere is well created as well, and gives a sense of loneliness and mystery. This is and the soundtrack are probably the most discussed and enjoyed portions of the game.
The soundtrack is even better. I found it to really help with the atmosphere of the game. A mixture of orchestral and instrumental music.
The caves were easily my favorite part of the game.
Despite all the praise I've heard and given for this game, it does have flaws. For starters, this isn't your conventional game, if it can even be called that. You walk around, a story gets told, and that's it. No shooting, no leveling up, and no cutscenes. Some people will be grateful for the change, others will be left bored and unsatisfied.
The game is also fairly short, it'll take you an hour, maybe two hours at most to complete it. The pacing is also a problem for some. Having a narrator tell your story for you is quite enjoyable as discussed in my Bastion review. And I think Dear Esther could have benefited from that as opposed to the sparse bits of narration.
I think the best way I could put it is that Dear Esther is like an art gallery. You walk around, you look at some pretty things, and sometimes a voice will pop up to say a few words. If you're not the kind of person who enjoys art galleries, you are not going to enjoy Dear Esther.