Indie developer The Chinese Room’s first-person narrative Dear Esther is heading to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in just a few weeks. According to an announcement made today by publisher Curve Digital, we can expect the title to be released on September 20, 2016. The upcoming release is not without a slight name change, however. The console version of the game will be titled Dear Esther: Landmark Edition and will feature several gameplay updates, trophies, an enhancement in graphics, and a directors’ commentary from the original development team.
The minimal gameplay, however, remains the same. Your only objective is to explore a strange, Hebridean island as you listen to a man reading letters to his wife, who is named Esther. The original was released in 2008 as a free-to-play modification. However, its commercial release did not come until 2012 for Linux, Mac, and PC and garnered a wide variety praise. Despite its acclaim, though, many gamers were turned-off by Dear Esther simply for the fact that it did not feel like a real “game”.
Narrative games have been increasingly popular in the last few years, especially the experimental first-person titles. Ones that come to mind are Gone Home and The Chinese Room’s most recent release, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, which takes place in the fictional English village of Youghton, where all the residents have disappeared.
Despite the criticism, these type of games have you re-evaluate your expectations of narrative gameplay and force you to take your time as you explore and watch the story unfold. Dear Esther is similar in that respect as well and has a beautifully haunting soundtrack to support it, but like Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, my experience was ultimately underwhelming. Hopefully with the new added touches to the console release of Dear Esther: Landmark Edition, I will feel differently.