Dear Esther: Landmark Edition is a first person story experience in which you explore a remote Hebridean island and uncover the story as narrated by Nigel Carrington. Is Dear Esther a walk worth taking? Read our review below to find out..
So to start off with, it’s worth noting that Dear Esther is a story experience and nothing more. If you’re expecting lots of exploration and or action, then it’s probably not for you. Dear Esther started out as a mod for Valve’s Source engine back in 2008, it was re-developed for commercial release in 2012 for PC and Mac. and it’s finally made its way onto consoles with a few tweaks in the ‘Landmark Edition’.
The first thing I noticed about Dear Esther Landmark Edition was it’s extremely well presented graphics, after watching a trailer on it’s Xbox One release I knew this was a game I’d like to play through, on my first initial play through listening to the dialog and getting to grips with the story, I quickly realised why it had been dubbed a “walking simulator”.
I was a little annoyed it didn’t have more to it, with graphics and audio like that it could have been up there with the greats, afterwards I decided to check out the director’s commentary to get a better insight as to the idea behind the game. I partly wish I’d played through the director’s commentary first so I had more of an open mind going in to Dear Esther Landmark Edition and fully understand the experience and what to expect.
There’s nothing more to do in Dear Esther Landmark Edition other than walk around the island, triggering the story, and taking in the scenery. Speaking of which, the visuals in Dear Esther Landmark Edition are absolutely superb, I particularly liked the detail of the grass, how it moves when the wind rolls across it, the water is also nicely done, probably the most realistic I’ve seen yet. That, along with the sounds of the waves crashing, seagulls calling and the rush of the wind really immerse you into feeling like you’re on the island.
The orchestral music that accompanies you along the journey adds some impact to each scene you come across. With lots of crescendos and melancholic pieces that add to the atmosphere of the experience, not forgetting the brilliant voice acting of Nigel Carrington, who delivers each piece of dialogue with excellence. The game is quite linear, you can’t really fall far from the path of the game, without being blocked by some form of barrier, occasionally you may come across deep water or caves that you can fall inTto, these will spawn you back in to where you’d previously been standing after a short, strange cutscene.
There’s no real reason to play again once you have completed the story, which can be done in around thirty minutes, unless you fancy looking for the four collectible urns that can be found throughout each of the four chapters.