One of my new favorite games isn't really a game.


Warning, there may be Dear Esther spoilers below.

I find it very hard to describe Dear Esther. In fact after two playthroughs I'm still scratching my head as to who any of the characters even were. I don't know who the narrator was, I don't know what the deal with the ghosts I caught glimpses of were. I thought I had pieced together who Esther is but I still have no real idea if I'm right, even with the hints the game kept dropping(I don't even know who I was playing as,though I have suspicions). All I really know for sure is the haunting environment, the deep mystery and my uneasy feelings as I progressed further into the strange island.

However, as great as it was(and I really do recommend it to everyone) I find it hard to call this a "Game" in a traditional sense. Sure you have control over your movement, you can proceed through the island environments at your own pace and take all the time you want to stare at sights but overall you're just pushed down the same general path, You really have no say over where you end up, all paths lead to the same end. If I had to place Dear Esther in any category I'd toss it somewhere between movie and novel, the story is told to you, there really isn't anything to that happens in the events of game. All story is told in a past tense way, and it's not told in order, the narrator isn't even reliable, he contradicts himself multiple times and becomes angrier and more confusing as the game goes on.

I gotta wonder though, is there a place for games like this in the industry? Even Heavy Rain was more of a game then Dear Esther and that game is famous for being little more than an interactive movie. Personally? I think yes there is, especially if the story can be told in a hauntingly beautiful way such as the one in Dear Esther. If a "game" wants to focus on a story more then actual game play more power to it, it's certainly going to remain more of a niche market but it's one that really should be explored.