Jun 9, 2013

Preplay : Dear Esther

When reviews for Dear Esther started hitting the internet back in February 2012 the game immediately grabbed my attention. They described something new, something different and I'm always on the lookout for these kinds of innovative experiments. 

After doing some research it turned out that experiment was the right word to describe Dear Esther. It was originally developed and released by Dan Pinchbeck as a Half Life 2 mod in 2008. Dan is a researcher at the University of Portsmouth. The mod was created to explore experimental game play and storytelling and was funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council.
When it was clear that the mod was becoming a success, a team of game industry professionals was added to the project in order to make it a standalone product.

Dear Esther is more of an experience rather than a traditional game from what I can gather reading reviews and looking at screenshots. It's been a while since its release but I remember discussions about whether or not it even should be called a game. These discussions only spiked my interest even more so when the game went on sale I bought it without hesitation.

Since then there has always been one game or another keeping me away from playing Dear Esther. I'm still really curious about what it is and I'm glad that I'm finally committed to find out. When looking at the screenshots they all seem to come out of a backpacking tourists' photo album. The only thing I seem to find are pictures of scenery. This leads me to believe that there will be little to none interaction with other characters. As I have tried to stay clear of substantial spoilers I'm not sure if there even are any real characters in the game.

My guess is that I'll be playing some kind of stranded survivor and that my goal will be to find out where I am. Maybe my character will be writing down what he sees in letters to a girl named Esther. This is pure speculation from my part though and I'm curious to see if my guess is anywhere near the truth.

It's fair to say that I really don't know what to expect. Dear Esther might be one of the best or worst experiences I'll have this year. But whatever the case may be, I'm sure it will be interesting. I love it when developers take a chance and try something that's off the beaten path. That in and of itself already gives Dear Esther a head start in my opinion.


Alex Vanden Abeele said...

Just out of interest I thought I'll play it too... After 22 minutes I decided to stop. I can see what some people would like in an "experience" as this but it's not my cup of thee. Looking forward to the postplay :)

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