is a narrative adventure that takes place on an uninhabited Hebridean island, upon which a lone man must piece together the chain of events which lead to his wife’s... read more
is a narrative adventure that takes place on an uninhabited Hebridean island, upon which a lone man must piece together the chain of events which lead to his wife’s death. Widely acclaimed upon its original release on PC in 2012, it is a game unlike any other; a visual and aural experience which has rarely been bettered. The console version comes complete with a brand new Directors’ Commentary, which sees the original development team of Jessica Curry, Dan Pinchbeck and Rob Briscoe unite providing insight never before heard and offering a fresh perspective on the game’s development and legacy.
The gameplay in Dear Esther is minimal, the only objective being to explore an uninhabited Hebridean island, listening to an anonymous man read a series of letter fragments to a woman named Esther. The letters suggest that Esther was his wife and that she is dead, killed in a car accident. As the player reaches a new location on the island, the game plays a new letter fragment relating to that area. Different fragments are played in each playthrough of the game, revealing different aspects of the story each time. Several other unseen characters are referred to by the narrator: a man named Donnelly, who charted the island in the past; Paul, who is suggested to be the drunk driver in the accident in which Esther died; and a shepherd named Jakobson who lived on the island in the 18th century. As the player explores the island, they find the derelict remains of buildings, a shipwreck, and a cave system whose walls are adorned with images resembling chemical diagrams, circuit diagrams, neurons and bacteria. At various points a figure is seen walking away from the player in the distance, but disappears before they can be reached. The identities of the characters become more blurred as the game progresses, as the narration moves between topics and relates the characters in different ways. The ambiguity of the randomly played letter fragments forces the player to draw their own conclusions of the story.
At the game's end, the player reaches the radio mast atop the island's peak and climbs a ladder to the top of the tower during a final monologue by the narrator. As the player jumps off and falls to the shore below, their shadow becomes that of a bird. The player soars through the island's bay before flying low over an array of paper boats in the water—the many letters the narrator had written to Esther.