Parents' Guide to

Dear Esther

By Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Poetic experience is less a game than an interactive story.

Game Mac, Windows 2012
Dear Esther Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 1 parent review

age 12+

Great experience!

Very atmospheric and very pretty graphics. This is more of a walking simulator than a classic game. No action, no puzzles. Which is nice I think. The character you control explores remote island beaches, caves and hills. The voiceover narration deals with dark and emotional themes - memories of the loss of a loved one, depression. The story ends with the main character jumping off of a high tower committing suicide. So there's that. The camera does not impact the ground but starts to soar across the landscape. My kids are not English speaking, so the dark themes in narration were not a problem. There are some creepy moments too - sometimes you can see a dark ghostly figure in a distance, but never up close.

This title has:

Easy to play/use

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (1):

Dear Esther challenges players' conception of what a video game can be. There will be those who walk away believing it's not a game at all but instead a new form of media-based storytelling driven by players pressing directional keys on their keyboards. This, coupled with the shape of the tale itself (which at times seems intentionally vague, meandering, and difficult to understand), will be enough to send some players off the deep end as they fruitlessly attempt to work out what it all means.

But there also will be some who find beauty in the poetry of the language used, who marvel at the game's undeniable visual splendor, and who appreciate the subtle but atmospheric score that enhances the game's dark, lonely undertones. In the end, it's perhaps not so much an interactive story as a multimedia rumination on the search for understanding and meaning in the seemingly random events of our lives. Dear Esther is certainly not for everyone, but those who cue to its curious flavors will find something quite memorable on this cloudy, windswept island.

Game Details

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online?: Available online
  • Publisher: The Chinese Room
  • Release date: February 14, 2012
  • Genre: Adventure
  • ESRB rating: NR
  • Last updated: December 13, 2020

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