A deserted island… a lost man… memories of a fatal crash… a book written by a dying explorer.
"Dear Esther" is an experimental independent video game based on the Source engine. Developed by thechineseroom, the game is a greatly enhanced release of the studios 2008 mod by the same name.
'Esther's' gameplay manifests as a solitary player character exploring an abandoned island and the terrain, ruins and caves that it is comprised of. Over the course of the player's time spent on the island, fragments of a dying man's memoirs are randomly chosen and played. Dear Esther is an exploration of prose, grief, and philosophy.
After the critical success of the original mod, level designer Robert Briscoe (formerly of DICE), began work on revamping, updating, and expanding the project alongside the original designer, Dan Pinchbeck. Valve Software, developer of the Source engine, granted license to the studio, permitting it to enjoy a commercial release.
Dear Esther was released on February 14th, 2012. The continued Dear Esther project has received wide praise and some awards of distinction, including the Best World/Story award at IndieCade 2009 and the 2012 Independent Games Festival's award for Excellence in Visual Art. Dear Esther's original release was a research project by Dan Pinchbeck at the University of Portsmouth and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The 2012 remake was funded by the Indie Fund and has sold over 200,000 units.