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Old 01-26-2012, 09:24 AM   #69
ozzie
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Germany
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I did the amazing thing now and actually played Dear Esther! Yeah! I know!
And I thought it was - good.

Yes yes, it was quite rough around the edges. When a game tells me to go in a certain direciton, then I'll try all other ones before I'll take it. So, I swam out into the ocean - the game killed me. I wandered around - and got stuck in the environment. I climbed up a mountain - and managed to see the level border.
For such a game light on gameplay, and without any danger, it's astounding how easy you can screw up. It's especially annoying since it ruins the moment. This game is all about exploring and soaking in the atmosphere, and the replay value is kinda low, so being put back at the start of a level is rather discouraging. Why should your protagonist be mortal, anyway? Why weren't artificial borders an option?
But anyway, when it works, it works well. The sound collages and the environments produce a chilling atmosphere. The narration is interesting at times. I barely listened to it, but it was nice to hear how it related to the environment you were exploring. I wished the letter were more, I guess, more direct, more emotional, I wish I could tell what kind of character it was who wrote it. It all felt too distant, artificial, too artsy I guess.
There's a lot of potential that's not quite fulfilled here. Like I said, it feels clunky at times. I carried a shovel around with me for long stretches of the way, so I guess that's a hint that I didn't take it seriously all the time. I wish the game encouraged more exploration and that it allowed to explore the island more freely. Or at least that all the glitches that happened to me don't happen, if it has to be linear.
The walking is too slow. It's especially annoying if you're trudging around in an uninteresting place without any of the narration or sound collages on the soundtrack. To be honest, there are some interesting sights to behold, but at times there's nothing of interest.
But like I said, when it works, it works. The caves were wonderful, truly creepy and moody. There are mysterious occurrences and some intriguing questions left open. It's all pretty vague, but that adds to the appeal. It's a place that you explore, nothing more, but I think that's enough.

Well, let's see how the commercial release will hold up. I thought this was pretty good so far, but it could be much better.

Oh, and this is definitely a game and could be nothing else.
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