Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Dear Esther: This Game is Artsy

I was originally going to make a post about me baking cupcakes but I ended up forgetting half my supplies in the fridge at work. I can't be the only one who wanted to rush home from work after a shift and forgot some things. So instead we'll be talking about Dear Esther, the remake of the fairly popular mod available on Steam.

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.


26 comments:

  1. You did say no shooting? I'm stunned that there are games like this!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This game sounds so interesting despite lacking in everything that makes a conventional game. I kind of want to know the end result to the plot, it definitely sounds like a good story to me, thanks for the review dude.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think calling it an art gallery is the best way to describe it really. It does seem very beautiful too. If it's just an hour or two I could probably handle it quite well. Whether or not I have the attention is another question.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hmmm that definitely sounds cool. (And I'm not really a gamer). I like the idea that its short

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yeah art galleries tend to bore me, so I'll avoid this one.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I can't wait to see your cupcakes :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow! A game about a man on an island! I'm gonna have to play it solely cause its so odd!! (maybe I'll review it!)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I do intend on buying it. There's been a lot of people complaining "eh I expected a proper game", but that's not what this is. This is art, with "game" as the name of the medium.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm ALWAYS forgetting my groceries in the fridge at work; glad I'm not the only one who does that.... Shame you couldn't make cupcakes, tho. :/

    That looks like a pretty cool game. I totally suck at all video games, but I'd give it a go because it's pretty. Do they make it for Mac?

    ReplyDelete
  10. I know someone who would like this. Gonna bring it up.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This sounds like a really interesting game, to me. Thanks for the post!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sounds like a good game! Thanks for sharing DWei!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hmm i like art galleries. Maybe i'll check this game out then :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hmm... I'm generally not into really artsty games. Didn't really like Okami. This one does looking interesting though.

    ReplyDelete
  15. sound great i like to see this game

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'd love to read a post about you baking muffins, with pictures of course :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Huh. How much does it cost? For only 1-2 hours of playing time, it better not be overpriced!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I've never even heard of games like this, but I am a fan of pretty art work, so I may check it out with my friend's account!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Sounds more like my kind of game. No shooting and short lol

    ReplyDelete
  20. Sounds like a really cool game with some artsy aesthetics! I'll have to tell my nephew all about it---he's a gamer for life! ^.~

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'll have to play it the next time I have an hour to myself and I'm bored out of my mind

    ReplyDelete
  22. Valve = Best company

    I'm currently at Dota 2 International tournament in Seattle =D

    ReplyDelete
  23. never heard about this game

    ReplyDelete
  24. Great Blog. Following you. Dear Esther looks amazing by the way.

    ReplyDelete