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Dear Esther
Developer(s) Dan Pinchbeck
License Freeware
Engine Source engine
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) July 29, 2008
Genre(s) Adventure game
Mode(s) Single-player
Media Download
System requirements 1.2 GHz processor, 256 MB RAM, DirectX 7 level graphics card, Half-Life 2
Input methods Keyboard, Mouse

Dear Esther is a single-player mod for Valve Corporation's Half-Life 2. The game was released on July 29, 2008.

Pinchbeck describes Dear Esther as an "interactive narrative built using first-person game technologies." [1]



Dear Esther's plot is progressed through by a series of voiced-over letter fragments to a woman named Esther, but the game does not specify who the narrator is. These monologue fragments are triggered as the player reaches certain locations in the game, and are randomly selected for each given location. This random selection of voice-over parts causes a lack of a coherency, and forces the player to draw their own conclusions. As the game progresses, the readings become more vague and start to contradict one another. The readings also draw allusions to the story of Paul on the road to Damascus. Dear Esther has been under debate as to whether it truly constitutes a game. The level of interactivity is minimal, and there are no identifiable objectives. [2][3]


The game follows a somewhat linear path on an uninhabited Hebridean island. A series of obscure visual symbols line the rocks of the island, most of which are chemical or electrical diagrams. [2]


Dear Esther was written and produced by Dan Pinchbeck. Pinchbeck is a teacher of games and interactive media at the University of Portsmouth, UK. The game was designed by Pinchbeck and Josh Short, built by Short and Adam Griffiths, and programmed by Jonathan Brown. Music for Dear Esther was written by Jessica Curry, and voice-acting was performed by Nigel Carrington.[1]

Dear Esther is currently being redeveloped by Robert Briscoe[1], formerly of DICE[2]. The remake will include a fully rebuilt environment and remastered audio.


Dear Esther was selected for exhibition at the 2008 Ars Electronica animation exhibition, was given an honorary mention for Best Voice Acting at the 2008 Machinima Awards and made the Top 100 of Mod DB's Mod of the Year 2008. Some reviewers have complained of poor level design, citing a lack of direction in the terrain, and multiple glitches related to movement.[4] The voice acting, music and writing in the mod have been consistently praised.

Dear Esther recently won Best World/Story at the 2009 IndieCade Independent Game awards.[3]


External links



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