In the beginning was the word ... So, stop, this is from another article. At first it was ... What are you saying? "Modification for Half-Life 2 , released back in 2008"? In principle, true. But at the very beginning there was still something else. Namely, the love of Dan Pinchbeck (Dan Pinchbeck), the future screenwriter of the same modification, for literature. Apparently, he read a lot, and it was his impressions of the books he read that helped developers a lot when creating Dear Esther - first as a mod, and now as a full-fledged http://www.friv1000games.org/ friv game. Dan's words that he was read by the Strugatsky, are confirmed right away: once you look at the nameless island at least for a moment, you immediately recall “A Picnic on the Sidelines”. No, there will be no stalkers hurrying after the swag, no one will treat radiation sickness with vodka and hoarse shout: “Guys, I caught an olive!” But the atmosphere of desolation and hopelessness that was in the “Picnic ...” - it’s literally in every frame. Crazy monologues and landscapes would clearly liking Philip Dick (Philip K. Dick), another idol of the authors of the game - he also loved originality, even quite clearly resembles a narcotic delirium.
Not only books served as the reason for the creation of Dear Esther . The same pinchbackhe calls ... the main FPS, in which he is a great expert. Apparently, so big that I got tired of playing with time, and there was a desire to create my own project, albeit in the form of a mod.
It seems that the developers decided to check how much the video game can be deprived of interactivity, while remaining fun enough so that the player does not throw the passage halfway with the words "Badly done, stupidly!". We thought - and completely rid our brainchild of the very feedback from a person on the other side of the monitor. The only thing allowed is to control the character’s movement. And the world around us does not react to our presence. However, in this world you cannot say at all that he is capable of at least reacting to something.
I must say, the experiment was completely successful - the mod was very successful and was recognized as one of the best modifications of 2008. The development team, in addition to fame, received the attention of professional artist Robert Briscoe , who proposed to make a full-fledged commercial project out of the supplement. Of course, resources were now required much more, and the release of Dear Esther as a separate game took place only almost four years after the original.
The original concept, if it turned out to be so successful, no one dared to change. But the rest had to be worked on: a stunning picture was screwed to the friv game, a little trifling trifles, letting in more mystery ... It seems to be nothing special, but - this is exactly the case where any detail is important.
If I were asked to describe the game in one word, then the word would be "beauties." All juices were squeezed out of Source - this engine is unlikely to be able to produce a better picture than the one in Dear Esther. And the matter is not only in technological quality - there are simply excellent landscapes. Someone even joked that this is not a game at all, but a “wallpaper” generator for the desktop. It’s hard to disagree - you can click on the “print screen” literally every second, and the resulting result can be safely inserted into the frame and hung on the wall. However, what are the words - look at the screenshots and see for yourself.
The soundtrack is not far behind. Quiet music, the whistle of the wind in the rocks, the noise of underground waterfalls ... If you have a large monitor and a good audio system, the presence effect is amazing, especially in the caves. The Skyrim Dungeons, compared to the magnificent Dear Esther dungeons, are like a child’s drawing next to the master’s canvas. There is someone to learn from the authors of "hundreds of manually created locations."
And so we wander from level to level, admiring the gloomy beauties. As I said, the only thing a player can do is move around the map. Despite the apparent freedom, the whole island is divided into clear "corridors", which will not be possible to get out of. So, “Dear Esther” - these are walks with purely aesthetic goals? No, there’s something else ...
The first launch of the game. A lonely island in the ocean, twilight, an old marina, an abandoned lighthouse building with a collapsed staircase ... Our hero breaks the virgin silence from time to time: either reads the lines of some letter, or simply carries incoherent nonsense: “Dear Esther. Seagulls no longer fly here. I found that they began to bypass these places ... ”In the distance, another lighthouse is visible, this time regularly blinking a bright red light. Our path lies to him.
As you progress, many questions arise that no one is going to answer. Who we are, what kind of island it is, how we got here and where we are going at all is unknown. Gradually, a picture of what is happening looms from those very letters (or crazy nonsense - as you like). Small clues that can be found in the secluded corners of the island help to clarify the situation - a road sign, medical instruments, mysterious signs on the walls ...
But even reaching the end, you don’t understand much. What to do? The answer is simple - go through the game in a new way! Better yet, do it more than once or twice. The fact is that the monologue of the only character Dear Esthereach pass is unique. Some remarks are repeated, some are not, objects can appear and disappear in the same way, thanks to which it is possible to open another piece of this incomprehensible story. But ... the more you learn, the more new questions. I will not “spoil” and tell my version of what is happening - why break off such a pleasure?
The ambiguity of what is happening is another plus that will play into the hands of the project’s popularity (more precisely, it’s already played): it’s the fact that the game will be discussed for a long time, arguing what really happened on the nameless island, and to check more and more new options happening to match all the intricacies of the plot. Well, the developers seem to have achieved this. According to them, Dear Estherpaid off after 6 hours after the start of sales. I would like to advise the team not to stop there and Dan Pinchbek to re-read the Strugatsky again - I wouldn’t refuse something similar, but on the basis of “Picnic on the sidelines”. Oh, dreams...
An intricate plot, colorful graphics, a unique feeling that remains after passing this ... No, the word "game" is clearly not suitable here. Either a film with a camera subject to the viewer, or a visual story ... Dear Esther is more like a test of a concept that has never happened before. The most important drawback: the movie (I allow myself to call it that way) turned out to be a magnificent, but - so offensively - short film.
Pros: fresh ideas; stylish design coupled with technological graphics create an incredible effect of presence; a plot woven from many puzzles, the answers to which are to be sought independently.
Cons: even with repeated walkthroughs, the game is very short; many will not like the almost complete lack of interactivity.