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    jp's Dear Esther (PS4)

    [August 1, 2017 12:23:35 PM]
    At last I can say I played this! I did enjoy the fact that it was short and it really does look beautiful and the audio work really impressed me. I can't say that I really understood entirely what it was "about" and I appreciated the spatial design in how it was able to wander around in the "right" direction most of the time.

    Once I finished it I immediately replayed the first chapter with the director's commentary turned on (thanks "Dear Esther Landmark Edition" I paid too much money for!). I'm glad I did because it clarified a lot of things for me, mostly about what the creators where trying to do and what their goals where. In a nutshell, they were aiming for an ambiguous narrative such that each player would have to make up their own mind about what was "really" going on. To achieve this, the audio clips that play were not the same for everyone (dunno if it was "random" or what) such that two people would have very different experiences. There was also some randomization in the props that appear in the world, which I thought was particularly interesting, but more on that later....

    Purposefully wanting to design something you want your audience to struggle a bit with while providing enough that they can come up with a reasonable/sensible understanding is a tricky line to balance. I know this because I witnessed a student team struggle with that same idea. I wish I could have told them to play Dear Esther and to listen to all of the developer's commentary. I assume they played it, but I don't know for sure and not having played it myself at the time I wasn't able to help them pin point what Dear Esther was doing, why, and whether or not it was effective.

    It took me a bit, but I also learned to appreciate the dead-ends different areas have that did not have an audio snippet as a "reward". I was really expecting that they would trigger, but more often than not I'd get to the end of a long detour to not hear anything. Then I noticed there was stuff lying around that was meaningful/relevant to the story. A broken car door. A pile of soggy books, all the same, and so on. I wonder if those props were "randomly" placed there to coincide with the story bits I was listening to? My guess is yes.
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    jp's Dear Esther (PS4)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Saturday 29 July, 2017

    GameLog closed on: Tuesday 1 August, 2017

    jp's opinion and rating for this game

    No comment, yet.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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