Two days ago I played Dear Esther, a first person indie game that was first released back in 2008. It is a video game that has had many critics, and many theories behind what actually happened in this game. Warning, there are spoilers ahead.
In Dear Esther, you play from the viewpoint of who you believe is the narrator. You start off at the lighthouse and try to get to the radio tower. While on this journey, you are navigating a small but beautifully detailed island. When you hit certain points of your travels, a narration tells you tiny bits of how this person ended up on this uninhabited island.
With each checkpoint you get more pieces to this story, while other times you have to go off the beaten path for more of the story to be told. You direct the narrator to climb though the rugged terrain of unkempt paths and caves to finally reach your destination, the radio tower. From there, things are left to interpretation.
This is where things get tough with this game. Warning, from this point forward is nothing but spoilers. There are so many theories of what had happened and why the narrator got to this point in time where he jumps off of the radio tower and turns into a bird.
During the story, you find that Ester has died in a drunk driving accident and the narrator had survived. He forgives the other driver, but has a hard time finding meaning, or at least this is my interpretation. The narrator goes to this island, I believe looking for something to make him feel anything. He is so stuck by grief over the lost of his beloved Esther that he can’t handle living. The narrator writes all this narration on paper as letters for Ester. He then folded them up into paper boats and put them into the water to attempt to have them find their way to Ester. He fails to find meaning in anything, and jumps off the tower in grief.
Now at this end of this game, I was hurt and angry. This game struck a raw nerve that has been trying to heal. I lost someone I knew and worked with back in November by a drunk driver who not only ran her over, but who drove away from the scene of the crime. The driver was just sentenced to 8 years for her death, but can get out of prison in 2 years. It doesn’t seem fair.
It’s not fair for people to drink then drive on the roads. They put so many lives in danger and risk damaging so many more. They can take away a person’s everything and it leads to an end like this. So many people have taken away something different out of this story, but it opened a painful wound for me. It’s not fair my friend lost her life. It’s not fair her infant daughter lost her mother and her husband lost his wife. Even though Dear Esther is a game, it wasn’t fair that Ester’s life was taken as well.
In all, this game made me cry. I’m crying right now writing this to be quite fair. It’s definitely a beautiful game graphically and is practically poetry by how the narration is written. However, this game brought up emotions that I had hidden for several months. I miss your contagious smile Jaimie, you will be forever missed.