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The granddaddy of walking simulators, Dear Esther, on consoles next week

by: Randy -
More On: Dear Esther

Dear Esther: Landmark Edition is coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and finally has a last-minute launch date: next week, on Tuesday, September 20.

In 2008—eight long years ago—a Half-Life mod called Dear Esther unknowingly established a new genre in video games: the walking simulator. Actually it's more accurately described as "narrative exploration." It was a noncombative first-person shooter without the shooter part, that relied heavily on letters and monologues rather than on guns and bullets; it didn't even have many, if any, puzzles or tasks to do. In 2008, no one knew how to deal with that. In 2016, a lot of folks still have difficulty accepting whether Dear Esther (and the genre it spawned) should be referred to as a "video game."

Dear Esther was rebuilt from the ground up and got a formal release on PC in 2012 [GN score: Perfect]. Inspired by the narrative, I even wrote a little thinkpiece called Dear Esther vs. The Bible

Dear Esther: Landmark Edition comes with a brand new developers' commentary. That's the part I'm most interested in. I don't know if it's a separate video feature, or if (I hope, I hope, I hope) the commentary is integrated into the gameplay. The game is a lonely non-ghost story. But even telling you that doesn't clue you into the surprises this game holds.  

Look for our upcoming review of the Landmark Edition. We'll hopefully post it on launch day, September 20. It won't sell a million copies, but it's only going to be $9.99. It should probably cost two or three times that.


Curve Digital Confirms the Launch Date for Dear Esther: Landmark Edition

Award-winning Masterpiece from Heralded Developer, The Chinese Room, Heads to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on September 20 with Graphical and Gameplay Updates Alongside a Brand New Developers’ Commentary

LONDON – August 25, 2016 – Established indie game publisher Curve Digital and developer The Chinese Room today announced that the critically-acclaimed, first-person narrative experience, Dear Esther, will arrive on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as Dear Esther: Landmark Edition on September 20 for $9.99. Heading to consoles with graphical and gameplay updates in addition to a brand new Directors’ Commentary from the original development team, Dear Esther: Landmark Edition aims to follow up on the original release’s success by refining the acclaimed indie hit for players both new and returning.

The Directors’ Commentary of Dear Esther: Landmark Edition unites Jessica Curry, Dan Pinchbeck and Rob Briscoe for the first time years as they reacquaint themselves with the game which made The Chinese Room a globally known development studio. The commentary offers first-hand insight on never-before-heard details, and provides a fresh perspective on the game’s development and legacy. The Landmark Edition also features graphical and gameplay tweaks which finesse the experience on console, making this the most complete version of Dear Esther to date.

Dear Esther is a narrative-focused first-person adventure that takes place on an uninhabited Hebridean island, upon which a lone man must piece together the chain of events that led to his wife’s death. Eschewing traditional gameplay to present a truly story-driven experience, the game composes a beautifully detailed world and an emotional tale that has inspired an entire genre of games. Dear Esther was originally developed as an experimental visual and aural experience using the Source game engine, and earned multiple awards alongside critical acclaim following its original release on Windows PC in 2012.

The console release of Dear Esther will mark the start of a month-long celebration of its legacy, during which The Guardian and The Barbican will hold events in the UK to allow members of the public to get closer to the seminal narrative than ever before.

The Guardian Event on September 30 is billed as a “Directors’ Commentary Directors’ Commentary” which will see Dan Pinchbeck and Jessica Curry discuss their journey from Half-Life mod to full console release. Tickets cost £10 direct from The Guardian’s website here:

On October 14, The Barbican will host a unique live performance of the game’s soundtrack led by composer Jessica Curry, accompanied by an on-stage playthrough of Dear Esther complete with live narration. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the major components of the game brought to life in what promises to be a highly emotional evening. Limited tickets remain here:

Developed by The Chinese Room and published on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One by Curve Digital, Dear Esther: Landmark Edition will arrive on September 20 for $9.99 / €9.99 / £7.99. This title has been rated “T for Teen” by the ESRB.

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