Woodyman’s Backloggery #13 – Dear Esther

I’m really torn about video games that try to be deep and tell a thought-provoking story.

Video games are a unique medium. They have to worry about more than just storytelling, they have to worry about gameplay as well. This is where A LOT of indie games and AAA games that focus on telling an emotional/thought-provoking story fail. If the gameplay is boring, I have no interest in the story or message…

This is the case for game number #13 in my backloggery… Dear Esther.

Dear Esther is basically a walking simulator. You walk from place to place looking at the scenery and listening to a narrator tell a story. Then you walk some more, listen some more, walk some more, listen some more, get lost, walk some more, then the game is over.

In good news, the game is VERY pretty to look at. My PC sucks,and even on medium settings, it was pleasant to the eyes. The game takes place on an island (think of the Scottish isles more than tropical isles) that’s been abandoned. There are remnants of past residents with buildings, tools, and litter littering the place… but no people. My favorite section of the game is a dark cave with luminescent paint splattering the walls.

The game has plenty to look at… but nothing to do. As I mentioned before you just walk and listen. Even though I beat this game recently, I have NO IDEA what the story of this game is. Here’s what I remember… there’s a car crash, something about an illness, sheep, and then the character jumps off a radio tower to die but turns into a bird.

The End…

 

This game was boring and not a game. If you want to tell a story… tell a story. If you want to make a game… make a game. If you want to make a game that tells an interesting story make it interactive… like Night in the Woods. That was good, I liked that one. Go play Night in the Woods. Don’t play Dear Esther.

Next up on Woodyman’s Backloggery… The new King’s Quest!

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One Comment

  1. I recently attended a live concert of the music from Dear Esther, with musicians playing instruments (strings, piano) and an actor reading the narration. A projection screen showed the visuals live. It was an interesting experience.

    (And based on that viewing, without playing the game, it seems to me the “island” is a metaphor – the narrator has gone mad after the car crash, struggling with his injuries and “writing” to Esther is his mind trying to justify what happened… My take on it anyway.)

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