521 ratings
Dear Esther: Secrets and More
By mrmusicallion
Most who wander upon this odd isle, may find themselves somewhat stumped. In response to this, I have written this guide. Perhaps you might agree with me; and perhaps you might not. We shall see.

So, without further ado; let us explore the depths..
Chapter 1: The Lighthouse

  • Why are there cans everywhere?
  • Why are there diagrams on the walls?

  • Playing Cards
  • Obscure Book with two figures on front cover
  • Pamphlet from 19** [date obscured]
  • Book titled 'Hebridean History'
  • Sheet Music
  • Map of the UK, written on
  • Cans of Luminous Paint
  • Polaroid of a young girl standing in front of a car
  • Certificate of Qualification in Electrics
  • Car Parts
  • Fibonacci Spiral
  • Lobster Traps
  • Whiskey Bottle
  • Two Fish
  • Six Slices of Mouldy Bread
  • Bible
  • Chemistry Textbook
  • Folded Clothing
  • Surgical equipment

Ghost Sighting #1

As you walk up the slope at the start, you'll see a ghost whizz past the first window when you get close enough. It's pretty fast so you'll have to keep your eyes peeled - blink and you'll miss it.

Ghost Sighting #2

When you're in that first building which connects to the Lighthouse, if you walk over to the room with the broken staircase, and look up, you should see a ghost poking his head over the stairwell for a few moments before it retracts out of view.

Ghost Sighting #3

There's a cave which you'll encounter, which is usually accompanied by a bit of narration about a hermit. When you go to the end of the cave, if you look over and into the opposite cave, you can see a flashing light.. this has been dubbed the 'Morse Code' Ghost, as the flashes apparently spell out 'Damascus'.
Chapter 2: The Buoy

  • Why are there so many copies of the same book, in the fireplace?

  • Car Parts
  • Warrant of Repossession
  • Surgical equipment
  • Ultrasound Scans
  • Broken Eggshells
  • Chemistry Compound Mug
  • A case of clothes, broken open
  • A heap of identical books

Ghost Sighting #4

When you walk towards the shipwreck, out of the corner of your eye (or field of view), you'll see a ghost walk along the pathway that weaves around the hillface. It'll stop and stand at the very end for a while, until you move closer to it, at which point it fades away..

Ghost Sighting #5

As you approach the Bothy (the house on the hill), you'll see a hooded figure outside of it, which will immediately go into the house once you get close enough.

Ghost Sighting #6

Behind the Bothy, there is cave across from the incline that you are on. In it, there is a ghost holding a lantern.

Chapter 3: The Caves

  • Why are you able to swim underwater, indefinitely?

  • Coins
  • Hospital Bed
  • One or Two Cars
  • Underwater Inscription
  • Stream clogged with Paper Boats

Ghost Sighting #7

Behind the waterfall at the place where you jump before you have the motorway vision, there is a ghost.

Chapter 4: The Beacon

  • Why is your silhouette, a bird, whilst you fall?

  • Three photos of a car crash
  • Photo of a young girl
  • Defibrilator
  • Surgical equipment
  • A roadsign
  • A minecart
  • Three eggs in a nest
  • One or two rings

There is a morse code message woven into the music at one point; it spells out 'ESTHER'

Ghost Sighting #8

On top of a tall cliff you'll see a candle. Next to the candle there is a ghost that can be seen, twice, from two different angles.

Ghost Sighting #9

Upon approaching a certain candle on the beach, you will be able to see a ghost reflected in the puddles that are nearby.

Ghost Sighting #10

There is a ghost standing at one of the corners of the platform that the aerial is constructed upon.
What do you think?
The most compelling aspect of Dear Esther, to me, is how it provokes you to think - the way that it makes you search within. However, not all of us are able to decipher this curious code so readily. So, for those of you who have had a hard time figuring out what is going on, read on..

  • The narrative adjusts with each playthrough; why?
  • The presence of certain items fluctuates between each playthrough; why?
  • The dream sequence changes every time you play - why?

And for those of you who have already developed a few ideas of their own..

  • Why is it that if you try to leave the island, you hear the phrase 'Come Back', whilst simultaneously seeing images of an Aerial?
  • Why is it, that although this might seem like the first time that you've been to the island, that you can already recall having seen the Aerial itself, when 'drowning'?
  • Why is it, that later on in the caves, that you can stay underwater, indefinitely?

And a few more thoughts to make you think..

  • If you turn into a bird at the end, who is the other bird that you see throughout the game?
  • Why is it that the remains of a car are dispersed throughout the island?
  • Why is it that the narrator seems to know so much about Paul - yet so little about Esther?

Here are my thoughts and ideas, so far:

  • The narrator, Paul, The Hermit, Donnelly and Jakobson are all one and the same. They are all fragments of a broken mind.
  • If Esther did exist, then she was the wife of the narrator. Otherwise, if she does not exist, then she was created by the mind of the narrator, during the incident that led to his mind becoming fractured. Note that Esther sounds a lot like 'Ester' which is one of the products of a chemical reaction between an organic acid (think: antacid yoghurt) and alcohol. The other product is water...
  • The narrator could be considered to be 'Saul'. In the bible story, Saul became Paul after he saw a bright light. In the same manner, the Narrator created Paul during the car crash - the last thing he would have seen, would have been the headlights of an incoming car.
  • On the way back from a work conference, due to the fact that he was drunk, the narrator steered into the path of an incoming vehicle. At the very least, this resulted in him becoming brain damaged.
  • The narrator created Paul as a result of him not wanting to be himself. Therefore, he cut away the part of his mind that he felt was responsible for his pain, and created a new identity that excluded that part of him. Therefore when Paul is referenced, the narrator is really referring to the person that he was, prior to the crash.
  • Jakobson represents the current physical state of the narrator. Note how his body did not degrade until several months after he had died. Perhaps the narrator fell into a coma, or was preserved once dead, for later study?
  • These quotes lead me to believe that Esther is quite likely to be a hallucination, too:
    "I have heard it said that human ashes make great fertilizer, that we could sow a great forest from all that is left of your hips and ribcage" (meaning that Esther only had parts of her ribcage remaining after the crash)
    "Jakobson’s ribcage, they told Donnelly, was deformed, the result of some birth defect or perhaps a traumatic injury as a child. Brittle and overblown it was, and desperately light." (note the repeated reference to a ribcage)
    "I had kidney stones, and you visited me in the hospital. After the operation, when I was still half submerged in anaesthetic, your outline and your speech both blurred." (it is possible that Esther was a nurse or someone who tended to the Narrator whilst he was in hospital, and he then made himself believe that she existed as a way to create hope)
  • The island is either a dream, a nightmare, or a place of lies, a lucid imagination, created by the Narrator either by grief, pain, or both.
  • The whole game is a repeating cycle, symbolic of a neverending labyrinth of the mind. The narrator never successfully finds his way, forever finding himself drawn back to the island, in one way or another, because it is all that he has left to find. It is like he becomes drunk with pain, and upon becoming sober, he finds himself upon the shores, yet again, to be despised by his own mind once more.
  • Due to the fact that there are only three types of ghost that can ever be seen, there are only three individual personalities: The Hermit, Paul and Esther. Paul is the disfigured spectre; The Hermit is the robed monk, and Esther is the translucent woman. The Hermit symbolizes what the Narrator has become as a result of the crash; Paul represents what he was up to the point of death; and Esther represents what he hopes to become - Free. Jakobson is a version of Paul; Donnelly is the way that the Narrator interprets himself and the 'Shepherds' symbolize all of the various ideas and fractured minds that have been created in the entire process that the narrator has experienced, over time - most of which have left and died away, as the cycles have continued.
  • Follow the trail of the hermit - you might notice that the points at which he is located/seen, are usually connected by one thing - the Gulls. For instance, at the beginning, you see the Hermit in the lighthouse, and then as you exit the lighthouse shed (if you have taken enough time) a gull will fly out just as you go to leave. The gull then flies off in some direction, which leads you to the next point of interest on the island. And once you visit that location, usually you see the Hermit again.. and then you see a gull again, after that. See what I see? It looks to me as though the Hermit can change into a gull, when he travels.. what does this say about the ending? Pay attention to where it says this, in the dialogue! "I will look to my left and see Esther Donnelly, flying beside me. I will look to my right and see Paul Jacobson, flying beside me." thus.. are you really a bird at the end, or are you just flying next to someone/something else? Do you even have a form at all..?

The beauty of Dear Esther is that it is a cycle of cycling thoughts. I'm most likely to change my mind about all of this within a few more playthroughs - but what I do know, for certain, right now, is that the character you play as, is not alive, or is not exploring a literal realm, i.e it is an imagination/hallucination/dream. The reason being that your character can remain underwater indefinitely. Therefore the entire thing must be treated like a dubiously counterfeit experience.. nothing can be trusted, except that very fact in itself.
Character Profiles
The Narrator
The narrator is not named or seen, so we do not know who he is, for certain.

Esther can be seen twice on the last level; once at the ghost candle, and once at the top of the aerial. She is a translucent spectre.

"I had kidney stones, and you visited me in the hospital. After the operation, when I was still half submerged in anaesthetic, your outline and your speech both blurred. Now my stones have grown into an island and made their escape and you have been rendered opaque by the car of a drunk."

The Hermit
The Hermit is a robed man. He can be seen throughout the game, at various points. In fact he appears in every level, if you know where to look.

"Donnelly reported the legend of the hermit; a holy man who sought solitude in its most pure form."

Donnelly is an author that wrote about the island. The narrator often makes references to him.
He is never seen.

"In a footnote, the editor comments that at this point, Donnelly was going insane as syphilis tore through his system like a drunk driver."

Paul works for a pharmaceutical company and lives in Wolverhampton.
He is never seen.

"Dear Esther. I met Paul. I made my own little pilgrimage. My Damascus a small semi-detached on the outskirts of Wolverhampton. We drank coffee in his kitchen and tried to connect to one another."

Jakobson is a shepherd that lived on the island. Donnelly wrote of him.
He can be seen at the ghost candle and the aerial, too.

"The first habitual shepherd was a man called Jacobson, from a lineage of migratory Scandinavians."
Script Analysis
Have a look through the script and see what you can find within it. The script sheds a lot of light upon what this is all about, so if you want to understand the game better, then this is the first place to start looking for answers.

The following quotes are just some of the lines from the game. The complete script can be seen here: http://dearesther.wikia.com/wiki/Dear_Esther_Script

The Lighthouse
  • "...I sometimes feel as if I’ve given birth to this island."
  • "... I have lost track of how long I have been here, and how many visits I have made overall."
  • "There’s nothing better to do here than indulge in contradictions..."
  • "...you cried to fill whatever vacuum you found. I began to manufacture vacuums, just to enable you to deploy your talent."
  • "...I find myself easily slipping into the delusional state of ascribing purpose, deliberate motive to everything here."
  • "...The infection is not simply of the flesh."
  • "We are not like Lot’s wife, you and I; we feel no particular need to turn back."
  • "I met Paul. I made my own little pilgrimage. My Damascus a small semi-detached on the outskirts of Wolverhampton. We drank coffee in his kitchen and tried to connect to one another."
  • "I find myself increasingly unable to find that point where the hermit ends and Paul and I begin."
  • "I have become convinced I am not alone here, even though I am equally sure it is simply a delusion brought upon by circumstance."

The Buoy
  • "Dear Esther. This will be my last letter. Do they pile up even now on the doormat of our empty house?"
  • "Dear Esther. Whilst they catalogued the damage, I found myself afraid you’d suddenly sit up, stretch, and fail to recognise me"
  • "Why cling so hard to the rock? Because it is the only thing that stops us from sliding into the ocean. Into oblivion."
  • "Perhaps when the helicopter came to lift them home, their ascent scared the birds away"
  • "I have spent days cataloguing the garbage that washes ashore here and I have begun to assemble a collection in the deepest recess I could find. What a strange museum it would make. And what of the corpse of its curator? Shall I find a glass coffin and pretend to make snow white of us both?"
  • "I had kidney stones, and you visited me in the hospital. After the operation, when I was still half submerged in anaesthetic, your outline and your speech both blurred. Now my stones have grown into an island and made their escape and you have been rendered opaque by the car of a drunk."
  • "I am drawn by the aerial and the cliff edge: there is some form of rebirth waiting for me there."
  • "I must look downwards, follow the path under the island to a new beginning."
  • "In the hold of the wrecked trawler I have found what must amount to several tons of gloss paint. Perhaps they were importing it. Instead, I will put it to use, and decorate this island in the icons and symbols of our disaster."
  • "The first habitual shepherd was a man called Jacobson, from a lineage of migratory Scandinavians. He was not considered a man of breeding by the mainlanders. He came here every summer whilst building the bothy, hoping, eventually, that becoming a man of property would secure him a wife and a lineage."
  • "Donnelly was going insane as syphilis tore through his system like a drunk driver. He is not to be trusted"
  • "Jakobson’s ribcage, they told Donnelly, was deformed, the result of some birth defect or perhaps a traumatic injury as a child."
  • "It will take a number of expeditions to traverse this microcontinent; it will take the death of a million neurons, a cornucopia of prime numbers, countless service stations and bypasses to arrive at the point of final departure."

The Caves
  • "I first saw him sat by the side of the road. I was waiting for you to be cut out of the wreckage."
  • "This is a drowned man’s face reflected in the moonlit waters. It can only be a dead shepherd who has come to drunk drive you home."
  • "There is no other direction, no other exit from this motorway. Speeding past this junction, I saw you waiting at the roadside, a one last drink in your trembled hands."
  • "Perhaps, the whole island is actually underwater."

The Beacon
  • "I wish I could have know Donnelly in this place – we would have had so much to debate. Did he paint these stones, or did I? Who left the pots in the hut by the jetty? Who formed the museum under the sea? Who fell silently to his death, into the frozen waters? Who erected this godforsaken aerial in the first place? Did this whole island rise to the surface of my stomach, forcing the gulls to take flight?"
  • "Of fire and soil, I chose fire. It seemed the more contemporary of the options, the more sanitary. I could not bear the thought of the reassembly of such a ruins. Stitching arm to shoulder and femur to hip, charting a line of thread like traffic stilled on a motorway. Making it all acceptable for tearful aunts and traumatised uncles flown in specially for the occasion. Reduce to ash, mix with water, make a phosphorescent paint for these rocks and ceilings."
  • "We will scrawl in dead languages and electrical diagrams and hide them away for future theologians to muse and mumble over. We will send a letter to Esther Donnelly and demand her answer."
  • "There were chemical diagrams on the mug he gave me coffee in; sticky at the handle where his hands shook. He worked for a pharmaceutical company with an office based on the outskirts of Wolverhampton. He’d been travelling back from a sales conference in Exeter: forming a strategic vision for the pedalling of antacid yoghurt to the European market"
  • "He kept sniffing at his fingers as he sat by the roadside waiting as if he couldn’t quite understand or recognise their smell. He said he’d been travelling back from a sales conference in Exeter; he’d stopped for farewell drinks earlier, but had kept a careful eye on his intake."
  • "When Paul keeled over dead on the road to Damascus, they resuscitated him by hitting him in the chest with stones gathered by the roadside. He was lifeless for twenty-one minutes, certainly long enough for the oxygen levels in his brain to have decreased and caused hallucinations and delusions of transcendence."
  • "Returning to my car afterwards, hands still shaking and a head split open by the impact. Goodbye to tearful aunts and traumatised uncles, goodbye to the phenomenal, goodbye to the tangible"
  • "He was not drunk Esther, he was not drunk at all"
  • "I have dredged these waters for the bones of the hermit, for the traces of Donnelly, for any sign of Jacobson’s flock, for the empty bottle that would incriminate him."
Symbolism and Clues

The Paper Boats
The graphic that was used for the paper boats, is made out of an image of a letter written by Bobby Fischer. The letter reads as follows:

"Ushiku, Japan, January 19, 2005
Althingi: The Icelandic Parliament
150 Reykjavik

Honorable members of Althingi:

I, the undersigned Robert James Fischer sincerely thank the Icelandic Nation for the friendship it has shown to me ever since I came to your country many years ago and competed for the title of World Champion in chess – and even before that.

I would like to take the liberty of presenting the following request to Althingi. For the past 6 months I have been forcibly and illegally imprisoned in Japan on the completely false and ludicrous grounds that I entered Japan on April 15, 2004 and that I "departed" or attempted to depart Japan on July 13, 2004 with an invalid passport.

During this period my health has steadily deteriorated. I've been dizzy all of the time for about the past 2 months now. Incidentally, it's been very carefully blacked out in the press but it just so happens that I'm the very oldest prisoner here in the East Japan Immigration Detention Center. Not to mention the fact that when the Narita Airport Immigration Security authorities brutally and violently "arrested" me (actually it was nothing but a kidnapping and everybody knows it) I was seriously injured and very nearly killed. Furthermore it is surely not beneficial to my health either physically or psycologically that they´ve dragged me here to Ushiku which is only about 66 kilometers from the leaking Tokaimura nuclear power plant (Japan´s Chernobyl!) in Tokyo City. They just had another nuclear accident there on Ocober 14, 2004!

And now, unfortunately, the Icelandic authorities' recent offer of residence and of entry to Iceland without a passport has not sufficed to prompt the hardheaded and hard-hearted Japanese authorities/kidnappers to let me go to your excellent country.

In case you're wondering why I have no U.S. passport it's because within 24 hours of "arresting" me the U.S. and Japanese authorities working in collusion illegally confiscated and physically destroyed my perfectly valid U.S. passport # 27792702! Neither the Japanese nor the American authorities have ever bothered to offer any explanation or justification whatsoever for this outrageous criminal act. Apparently they're strictly heeding Disraeli's advice which was to: "Never apologize, never explain!"

Because of all the foregoing I would therefore like to formally request that Althingi grant me Icelandic citizenship so that I may actually enjoy the offer of residence in Iceland that your Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. David Oddsson has so graciously extended to me.

Most respectfully,
Bobby Fischer

Robert James Fischer (born 9 March 1943)
signed this 19th day of January at Ushiku, Japan."

The Diagrams

"This chemical shows an organic molecule (known as Perylene-3,4,9,10-tetracarboxylic Acid Diimide) that has variable "R" groups that can be altered to change the fluorescent properties of the dye . This molecular set up is known as a molecular bridge as the set up of the carbon rings allow charges to transfer across the molecule. By varying the subsituents "R", different fluorescent properties emerge owing to the charge transfer across this bridge."


Whenever you attempt to leave the island, you hear the words 'Come Back' whispered by the voice of the narrator; the filename for that specific recording is 'hermitwhisper.mp3'.
Using the Console [Cheats]
To use cheats in Dear Esther, you will need to activate the Developer Console first. The setting to do this is located in the 'Keyboard/Mouse' settings menu. There is a little tick box which says 'Enable Developer Console'. Make sure that it is ticked.

Once you have done that, you'll be able to open the console. But to open the console itself, you'll need to find out what button does it. Usually, it is either 'c' (for console), or ` or ~.

Once the console has been opened, you will need to type in a specific code first, in order to be able to any other code. That code is sv_cheats 1

After that code has been entered, you'll be able to enter in these following codes in order to activate various functions:
  • noclip (allows you to fly and go through objects)
  • de_examinezoomamount 0.1 (increases the zoom amount - the number can be adjusted to whatever you like, experiment and see what works best for you)
  • de_playerspeed 200 (makes you go twice as fast - change the number to suit your preference)
Online Links and References

Full Length Recorded Play-Through

First up, we have a brilliant recording made by JorisCeoen on youtube. He's also posted this around the forums somewhere, but for sake of convenience I'll list it here. It goes from start to end, covering most of what this game has to offer.

Due to the fact that the narrative varies slightly each time you play, it would be impossible to make a recording which covers all there is to know, in one sitting. However this easily covers all the main and significant points of the game in a very broad manner which is good enough for now!

If you're thinking about buying this game, then perhaps play the first three minutes of it and stop there. Otherwise you'll spoil the experience for yourself. Currently this is the best quality recording of Dear Esther that I can find.

Ghost Sightings

Here's a recording showing all the known ghost sightings so far, by SkullSyker on youtube.


You can find the soundtrack within the Dear Esther game folder. Go to Steam/steamapps/common/dear esther and search for .mp3 files. Also, here is a youtube video of the entire soundtrack.

Dear Esther Wiki

Check out the Wiki, here: http://dearesther.wikia.com/wiki/Dear_Esther_Wiki

Useful Forum Topics

Here are a few notable places where people have reported their discoveries and discussed their ideas and so on.

Easter Eggs and Hidden Objects

Some Theories

Info on Ghosts
Note: Is this game for you?
This might not be of much use, now that you've read through the guide, but in the case that you've not already bought that game, and are seriously considering doing so, please take the following into strict consideration! These are my lines, etched into the cliff.. this isle is not for everyone, it is a place for hermits to gather, if anything..

Before you purchase this game, ask yourself these questions:

Do you like being quite perplexed more often than not?
Do you have a strange appreciation for that which we call 'The mind'?
Do you find yourself constantly wishing that you could watch paint dry more often?
Are you quite patient?

If so, welcome aboard!; there is space for you here, in this bottomless boat..
If not, then take heed of this simple yet sincere request..

Dot Dot Dot Dash Dash Dash Dash Dot Dot Dash Dash Dash Dot Dot Dash Dot Dot Dot Dash Dot


A little about me.
Now you know a little bit more about this island, I might as well tell you a little about myself.
I'm Brad. I enjoy many various creative pursuits. Specifically, I enjoy photography, writing and musical endeavors. My music has been used in a few flash games that you might have heard of, namely 'Legends of Kong', and 'Goodbye my Love'.

If you liked what you saw here, today, then perhaps you might like to see more of what I do. If that is the case, then please accept an invitation to explore my website at http://www.mrmusicallion.com. It's nothing too fancy but some of you may enjoy my other projects.

< >
Полотенчик Dec 15 @ 7:22am 
Thank you!
Nero Nov 3 @ 2:00pm 
awesome mate, i end game with that stuff
Nitkovonema -TCG- Nov 3 @ 9:58am 
Thank you.
@Nitkovonema -TCG- this is amazing!
phonika1 Oct 30 @ 5:44am 
Great work, your ideas make the game even better!
Nitkovonema -TCG- Oct 10 @ 9:01am 
This would mean the ghosts are the people that appear in the game. Another interesting fact is that when i used noclip to get to the ghost in the last chapter, it was a female shadow. In this guide it is stated that there's a morse code saying "ESTHER". This is really interesting, and i hope this gave you some usefull information.
Nitkovonema -TCG- Oct 10 @ 9:01am 
Parent cvar in client.dll not allowed (r_shadowlod)
SAVEGAME: 300.4kb, 204.7kb used by 525 entities (donnelley)
SAVEGAME: 32.8kb, 18.3kb used by 215 entities (donnelley)
SAVEGAME: 0.6kb, 0.0kb used by 0 entities (donnelley)
SAVEGAME: 300.0kb, 204.4kb used by 524 entities (donnelley)
SAVEGAME: 32.8kb, 18.3kb used by 215 entities (donnelley)
SAVEGAME: 0.6kb, 0.0kb used by 0 entities (donnelley)
SAVEGAME: 294.3kb, 201.4kb used by 522 entities (donnelley)
SAVEGAME: 33.2kb, 18.6kb used by 218 entities (donnelley)
SAVEGAME: 0.6kb, 0.0kb used by 0 entities (donnelley)
SAVEGAME: 293.7kb, 201.0kb used by 521 entities (donnelley)
SAVEGAME: 33.2kb, 18.6kb used by 218 entities (donnelley)
SAVEGAME: 0.6kb, 0.0kb used by 0 entities (donnelley)
SAVEGAME: 293.2kb, 200.7kb used by 520 entities (donnelley)
SAVEGAME: 33.2kb, 18.6kb used by 218 entities (donnelley)
SAVEGAME: 0.6kb, 0.0kb used by 0 entities (donnelley)
Nitkovonema -TCG- Oct 10 @ 9:00am 
I found a pretty interesting fact. When i used the console command to go faster, i was suddenly slowed back down. When i opened the console

SAVEGAME: 421.7kb, 305.7kb used by 910 entities (paul)
SAVEGAME: 66.2kb, 39.8kb used by 468 entities (paul)
SAVEGAME: 0.6kb, 0.0kb used by 0 entities (paul)

In another part of the game, where a ghost was confirmed, i got this: Now the log will have to be in another comment since i reached the comment maximum...
proto Oct 9 @ 5:01pm 
Has anyone else gotten to the level where you are underwater walking along a highway through a car crash. (presumably the one esther died in) I've only gotten it once
Alex Taylor Sep 30 @ 1:41pm 
Love the guide, but my developer console refuses to open! :( Any help?