is one of those experiences that fuels the fire of discussion regarding a topic that has only really come into peopleís periphery relatively recently. Itís indicative of the growing pains felt by the medium as a whole. While youíll probably never get a consensus on what exactly constitutes a "game" from the development community, youíll undoubtedly get a wide variety of responses. After all, look at the sheer diversity of experiences that have been coming through the pipeline over the last decade or so. However, releases like Dear Esther
challenge most preconceived notions; its interactivity is so slight it may as well have been a forethought during development. While the video game medium has certainly come into its own as a vehicle for experimental storytelling, its efficiency as such is often tied to how its unique properties facilitate and augment that storytelling. Itís there that Dear Esther
fails. While its literary ambitions are on naked display throughout, the medium is an incredibly poor choice for a delivery system. If itís an unorthodox narrative youíre looking for, Dear Esther: Landmark Edition
provides the most complete version of a release that embodies the term "unorthodox narrative." But is it a game? If it is, it's not a good one.
Dear Esther began life as a Source mod and was further developed with the Unity engine, so donít expect it to wow from a technical standpoint. Itís just not that kind of experience. Instead, look at it from a creative perspective, and youíll find this an adventure that appeals to the eyes. It takes a while to really come into its own, a quality it arguably shares with the story. As the narrative becomes more surreal and complex, so do the visuals. And given how important the story is, Iíll simply leave it at that.
The importance of Dear Estherís sound design isnít readily apparent, but pay careful attention and youíll see how brilliant it is. Superb ambience and sound effects transport the player to the Hebridean island upon which the story takes place, and Jessica Curryís soundtrack plays the player like a fiddle. Rounding it all out is the narration, which keeps the player grounded and connected.