Dear Esther, in itself, is a journey. It’s a stripped back, minimal “walking simulator”. It never holds your hand and allows each player to make their own way through its picturesque landscape, to experience its beauty in their own way. So having somebody do this for you creates a unique journey – one unlike anything I have ever experienced before.
In Dear Esther Live, Jessica Curry has created a score that evoked countless emotions in only an hour. It gripped me with every string on the violin and cello and with every key on the piano. I was glued to the big screen with every step of our nameless character as he slowly unveiled this heartbreaking story, through a desolate landscape, of losing someone he held so dear.
Oliver Dimsdale, the narrator during the live event, read through the letter fragments written to his beloved Esther. His calm persona told this tale so beautifully, his powerful voice echoing through Colston Hall, Bristol, made me hang on his every word. Gripped by fear, anger, guilt and mourning, he tells his story so effortlessly that you believed him, I felt this experience was his own and it created an atmosphere I would never have felt on a playthrough by myself.
Having Ian Farrington both conduct his orchestra whilst playing on a Steinway piano just a few rows ahead of me was simply astounding. As well as having every musician not miss a single beat, they were accompanied by the angelic vocals of Joanna Forbes L’Estrange. Her haunting tones ringing throughout every note sent shivers down my spine, making this live event all the more magical.
Visually, it’s breathtaking. We move through desolate, empty wilderness, vast caves filled with stalegmites and stalegtites, then flow through its deep valleys, rivers and pools. We see figures in the distance that vanish in an instant, ship wrecks, abandoned buildings, candles on the beach and the radio tower we are edging ever closer to for the spectacular finale.
The pace of the game, however, may not be for everyone. It’s a slow experience with no interaction so you may feel like it’s lacking in something. However, this didn’t enter my head as the whole hour of Dear Esther Live was so engrossing; you would just simply sit back and watch this visual storybook unfold.
Dear Esther is a story that allows the player to piece everything together. It takes a while to grasp the sheer scale of what has happened, you need to sit back afterwards to take in its grandure.
If you get the chance to see Dear Esther Live, you will experience a magical event that deserves its critical acclaim.