Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Game Review: Dear Esther

So I finally succumb to the whims of the Steam Summer Sales... they're a dangerous lot for wallets around the world. This year i went ahead and indulged myself with three new games, all abiding by my personal rule that i wait for something to go under $10.00 to buy it. I was able to get a game called Nuclear Dawn which is an RTS/FPS that takes a lot of it's inspiration from Natural Selection (this will be covered in a different review), ID Softwares newest IP, RAGE, and Dear Esther.

I have been looking forward to Dear Esther for a very long time, in fact, i had been looking forward to it since before they decided they were going to charge for it which was the source of my disappointment when it finally came out and it was going to cost me 20 big ones to play it. So i steered clear of it until last night it came on sale, 75% off, for a total of $2.50. Now that i was willing to pay, easily. so i went and purchased it and stayed up long past the time i needed to be in bed to experience it.

I use the term experience because it's not really a game you "play". There are no weapons, the world is somewhat open for exploration with some subtle hints that "draw" you to the locations you need to go to by your own free will. But the story itself is unexpected and extremely engaging.

If you're reading this while the game is still on sale, i would strongly recommend holding off from going to McDonalds today and instead getting yourself Dear Esther for $2.50. You won't be disappointed. As far as i understand, the story points are dynamic too. meaning that every play through you will encounter different events, different blocks of speech, essentially different pieces to the same puzzle which really wows me and tells me that the long wait for this Source Engine mod was well worth it.

On top of the engaging story line, there is a heavy and very moving ambiance that is set by the music and sound. Seriously, if you play this game, make sure you're alone where no one can talk over the audio, because this game relies heavily on the audio. Perfected audio transitions and masterfully played musical queues play their role in enhancing your experience 10-fold. It will make you anticipate things that aren't there. get you genuinely scared, or convince your eyes to mist over.

Which brings me to the final point. The visuals. I had seen the screen shots of Dear Esther while it was still in the making and the scenery looked breath taking. But to see it in the game in person as opposed to a screenshot and to watch it all in motion with your auditory senses being drugged over by those wonderful audio queues i was talking about earlier really just completes everything. The creator of Dear Esther really spent a great deal of time making each play through unique and enjoyable.

I would highly recommend anyone who wants to get emotionally attached to their player character very quickly and engage in breath taking world. For as short as a play through as this game offers, it promises so much in replay.

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