If you didn’t quite get your fill of discussing whether something is games or is decidedly not games, then hold on to your hats because this summer you’ll be able to fire up the Internet discussion machine for a reprise!
England-based developer The Chinese Room is working on porting their narrative-heavy walking simulator Dear Esther to the current generation of consoles. The game, originally released on PC back in 2012, went on to inspire a slew of other games that were light on mechanics but heavy on the narrative exposition like Campo Santo’s Firewatch (read our review here!) and Gone Home and, to a lesser extent, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. The Chinese Room also released the spiritual success or Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture last year.
Dear Esther, which started as a mod for Valve Source Engine in 2008 and received several BAFTA awards after the release in 2012, has a minimal story with a focus on exploring a vaguely Scottish-looking island while a narrator reads you excerpts from a woman called Esther who died under mysterious circumstances. The more the player explores, the more pieces of the intentionally disjointed story are revealed to you. The way the story is told to you is randomized with each playthrough, so players are encouraged to replay the game several times in order to get the full story.
There is no release date for the game yet, but it will arrive at a console near your TV at some point during the summer.
I’ve never played Dear Esther myself, but I may pick it up when it releases for consoles. Even though there’s relatively little gameplay to be had here, the game’s heavy focus on mystery and atmosphere sounds like something I would, personally, enjoy quite a bit. The game’s not a bad looker either.