Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Dear Esther, Why are you so beautiful?

As I walked through the fingernail scarred cliff faces, I thought to myself, "why?" As I crept  through the majestic, magically illuminated caves I thought to myself "Who am I" The answer was simple, I was the unnamed protagonist. My experience was abruptly cut short by the message flashing into appearance along the bottom of the screen. "Frog is now playing Half Life 2: Deathmatch" I was astounded. For the last few minutes I was the unnamed protagonist.I've never experienced such deep immersion before. What caused it? The lack of a HUD? The slow, almost tedious walk across the surreal landscape? The awe inspiring, beautiful voice overs?

Welcome the Half Life 2 mod, Dear Esther. It would be rude to call  Dear Esther  a game, it is one of thechineseroom's numerous projects in first person story telling. The game is, simply, a walk across a landscape. There is no action and basic controls. Movement is limited to walking, crawling or jumping.Trust me on this, you want to walk.  A voice in your head is  constantly speaking to you. The "voice in your head" is your voice, not the protagonist's voice, your voice. The dialog was split up into multiple sections, with one of three pieces  playing when you pass certain landmarks on your long journey. This works surprisingly well, and you  have to challenge your self to put the story together, piece by piece. I am not going to say anything about the story, it will be better for you to find out for yourself. You must download this, really. It will change your  mind on what a first person game can be, and what it is.

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