is an incredibly beautiful haunting experience, it is an experience more than anything else, a tour of an incredible beautiful environment with the perfect level of music, using the first-person game perspective to put you in an entirely different emotional place, as you slowly piece together events and see recurring themes spring up and be built upon. There is no combat, no puzzles, it's entirely linear and all you can really do is look where you want to look and walk at the pace you choose, sometimes exploring dead ends and coming back, but ultimately not leaving the path, yet this experience can only ever be given by a game, albeit one where the only measurement of success is in pressing forward.
And the level design is perfect, from the beginning the glowing red beacon dominates the background and it is clear that that shall be your ultimate destination. And as you go towards it the path will dip, the hill will fall away and you'll see a a building or a ship, and curiousity will want to visit there first on the way to the beacon. The motivation is strong, although it's never stated or rewarded more than seeing more of this beautiful landscape and another piece of narration. The paths are so elegantly designed, at one point you're drawn into this wonderful glowing cave, you circle round admiring it and then you realise that there is a path right next to the first, but you were drawn first by the cave and the path remained unnoticed until the right time.
The story doesn't become clear though. There is no twist, Dear Esther
is a flavour to be tasted, not to be admired for it's logic and structure.
I haven't played the original, but the look of the scenery and the completely ingenious level design in the remake, suggest that this is really the experience worth having. Its not a long or particularly deep experience but it's unique and touching, probably worth around £5 but otherwise it might be a little too short and little too disconnected.
A small spoiler to illustrate how the story just fell short, please feel free to avoid it. But I felt that I must be Esther, the actions being narrated had all taken place and I had not done them, so it seemed clear to me that Esther was following the footsteps of the last message of her lover, reliving his experience. But it wasn't so, there just isn't an explanation for the timeline.