There’s been a few titles in recent years that have sparked heated debate about what constitutes a “game”. Titles that primarily involve striding through a bunch of usually serene environments piecing together a narrative from the clues and story beats directly or indirectly presented to you. This “walking simulator” genre arguably includes the likes of Gone Home, Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and the game that practically popularized the genre, The Chinese Room’s Dear Esther.
Originally released back in 2008 as a Half-Life 2 mod before being re-released in 2012 as a standalone title, Dear Esther puts you in the role of an individual exploring a desolate island in the Scottish Hebrides. As you reach new sections of the island, the individual narrates a number of letters addressed to a woman named Esther, whose fate is gradually revealed as the game progresses.
Whether you’re into this sort of minimal gameplay “interactive experience” or not, it’s definitely worth a look as a distinct piece of gaming history – a game that intends only to take you on a serene, if always subtly creepy tour, with some gorgeous environments making the trip particularly worthwhile of course. Keeping this in mind, it’ll be interesting to see what PS4 and Xbox One owners make of the game when a new port of Dear Esther arrives on the systems sometime later this year courtesy of The Chinese Room and publisher Curve Digital.
The new console versions will sport a couple of subtle tweaks to refine how the game looks and plays, as well as an all-new director’s commentary mode, which reunites the staff of The Chinese Room to provide a retrospective audio track discussing the game’s development and release that plays in the background as the player explores the island.
Dan Pinchbeck of The Chinese Room had this to say on the console port’s release.
We’ve always known that Dear Esther would continue its story and we’re delighted to be writing that story with Curve Digital. Dear Esther is a hugely important game to us, so it’s great to know it’s in very capable hands – we’re excited to see the reaction from PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players.
Dear Esther will be making its way to PS4 and Xbox One “later this year”.