I originally played Dear Esther back in 2012. The promise of a narrative driven game about someone that has been in a car accident called out to me. I played it. I finished it. I got incredibly sad after playing the game. While I’m not saying that’s a bad thing it’s something new. Later that year I was in a severe car accident myself and I consider myself lucky that I am alive today. Somehow I managed to walk away from this total wreck with minor cuts and bruises.
With that all said, the game Dear Esther – Landmark Edition is now out on Xbox One. I was given an early copy of Dear Esther – Landmark Edition for Xbox One and I played through it again. This time, it was much harder to play. I found myself emotionally connecting with the main character on a level I hadn’t before. This time, the game seemed to hit home pretty hard. Much harder than before.
Dear Esther started out as a mod for the Source engine back in 2008 before being made into a full game in 2012. The Chinese Room set out to create a narrative experience and they have succeeded with Dear Esther. There are no puzzles, no action, no other gameplay other than just walking around an island and listening to man read letters to his wife. There is enough vagueness within the letters to piece together a cohesive story, yet also let the players draw their own conclusion as to the fate of everyone mentioned in Dear Esther.
Now in 2016 Dear Esther – Landmark Edition hits consoles and PC with some new features. The most prominent is the addition of a Director Commentary. Players can listen to the group from The Chinese Room talk about development, story, and other aspects of creating the game as they wander the island. The graphics have been spruced up a bit and the game looks amazing on the Xbox One. The audio also has been remastered and the scored in the game sounds great. I would suggest putting headphones in a dark room to fully immerse yourself in this experience. Other than that there isn’t much to say about the game.
If you have never played Dear Esther before the $9.99 price point is well worth it. You’ll get a memorable, emotional experience and once you’re done, you can do it all again with director’s commentary. I believe (at the time of this writing) Xbox Live Gold members can get it for $7.99 until October 4th. So that’s an even better deal. If you had played Dear Esther, there isn’t enough to warrant a second purchase. While the addition of the director commentary is nice, there’s nothing else new added to the game and it won’t have that same emotional impact as it did the first time you played it.