I have played many video games and many different genres, but one I had never experienced until just a few days ago was a game type often referred to as minimalist.
It’s something I had sort of avoided for the silliest of reasons, it didn’t make sense to me. I had some sort of weird idea that a minimalist game had to be super scary like Silent Hill.
After speaking to a friend and talking about their play through of a newer minimalist game, I informed them that I’d never played one and they then were kind enough to gift me a game called Dear Esther.
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Dear Esther was developed by a game development studio called The Chinese Room. Though, it was originally developed as a mod for Half-Life 2, it did well enough that it was later released separate game.
I say this is a minimalist game but it is also known as a first-person exploration game. I would actually even venture to call it sort of a Visual Novel.
In Dear Esther you start off as an unnamed male character, right out of the ocean, in front of a lighthouse.
The point of this game is to venture around toward specific areas which will then trigger dialogue from the main character, unfolding the reasons as to why he is on this island.
It is an extremely short game. It took me only about 90 minutes to complete from start to finish. There are 4 specific chapters, or areas, which will delve deeper into this man’s story.
You can only walk around and when in certain bodies of water, swim upward to get out of the water. When dark areas are entered, a flash light will automatically turn on, allowing you to further examine and explore these areas. Other than that, there is no other sort of interaction that occurs within the game.
While it is a short lived game and there is no real interactive gameplay to be had, the graphics, the music and the story itself make it incredible.
The music flows so smoothly with the exploration of the island as well as the heartbreaking story that comes with the character. To me, the music within Dear Esther is sort of…majestic.
As for graphics, I’m not one to throw a fit over whether graphics are great or poor. I like to enjoy games for what they are and for their stories, but for a game such as Dear Esther in which the scenery, the music and the story being told are the only things there, I paid a little more attention to the detail provided in the graphics of this game and felt that they were incredible.
As for the story, I don’t want to give away too much, but you follow a man on a heartfelt journey of self-realization and acceptance. It’s a very spiritual game in that sense.
Overall, though, I am very glad that I took the time to play through this game and I’m very sorry that this post isn’t longer, but because the game is so short, speaking about the story would give away many potential spoilers. I hope you enjoy the sample of music as well as the visuals and I hope that you will give this game a chance if you ever want to delve into this sort of genre.
Thanks for reading!
***All pictures were screenshots taken by me, in game***