Dear Esther: Landmark Edition is an odd game. I had never played it originally on PC so I went in on this game with a fresh pair of eyes and zero expectations. All I knew of it was that it was a first person game that was heavy on narrative. Everything else would be a mystery to me.
While I did play through the story one time in one sitting, this isn’t a full review only because I haven’t played through the game with commentary turned on, which is a big part of the “Landmark Edition”. Instead, I’ll just offer up some of my impressions of the regular game first and come back for a full review once I play it again with the extras. Also from my understanding, it takes multiple playthroughs to get the full experience.
Dear Esther is a gorgeous game. As soon as I was dropped onto this island, I couldn’t help but explore and marvel at the beauty of it all. I don’t know if the original game looked like this, but everything looks so realistic and serene. The environment looks to life-like with swaying plants, hints of wind and sand particles flying around, and the way the water flows. The sky also look particularly wonderful as well. It just all looks really pretty.
Along with the look, the audio in the game is fantastic. The voice narrator who I presume is who I’m playing as has a wonderful accent and a soothing voice that is lively and not robotic. The soundtrack used in the game too is also quite fantastic and one that I could listen to on its own.
The gameplay though is where a lot of people will have a difference of opinion. There really isn’t any. Dear Esther is a walking simulator for the most part. There are no puzzles to solve or items to pick up and examine or read. Instead, all you do in the game is walk. Follow paths or try to venture off the path and you will unlock new narrative that unlocks the mystery of what this game is truly about. So if you’re expecting more than just walking, you’ve come to the wrong place.
With that said, Dear Esther is about the story and the journey. It really is a beautiful game to look at and admire. The story isn’t bad either though you may need to play it multiple times to really understand it all. I’m definitely going to go through it again as I believe I missed some of the narrative and didn’t quite explore the island fully.
Review code provided to us by the publisher/developer.
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