Dear Esther: Landmark Edition is a remake of Dear Esther – an exploration game developed in 2012 by independent studio The Chinese Room and Robert Briscoe. Dan Pinchbeck created the title as a mod based on the second installment of Half-Life, and after a while was recreated as a full-fledged title. In contrast to the original game, Landmark Edition was released not only on personal computers, but on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as well.
In Dear Esther: Landmark Edition for PS4, PC and XONE player travels through an abandoned island that hides some mysteries. What’s interesting, the player doesn’t know who the person he controls is – sometimes he can only hear a male voice that reads letters written for the titular Esther. Together with environmental objects like mysterious writings in the rocks or paper boats on the coast, it is a piece of the story puzzle that player must combine into whole on his own. The story can be interpreted in various ways.
The action in Dear Esther: Landmark Edition for PS4, PC and XONE is presented by using first-person perspective. The title is a protoplast of the so-called “walking simulators”. The gameplay mechanics are limited to minimum. Player can only slowly explore the location and learn new pieces of the story. It is impossible to interact with the environment in the game through environmental riddles, combat or action sequences. Because of that, the title initiated many discussions about whether it is still a video game or a virtual experience.
Contrary to the previous version that was powered by Source engine, Dear Esther: Landmark Edition for PS4, PC and XONE is powered by Unity engine. The graphics aren’t very impressive, especially when compared to a similar game that is a few years younger – Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.
The remake has completely new sounds and is enriched with developers’ commentary that can be played during the game. It also introduces new settings like the possibility to change the size of the subtitles, to activate a crosshair and it adds achievements.