I've been playing a lot of Day Z lately. Obscene amounts, in fact. It's everything a video game should be. There's vehicles. There's guns. There's zombies. You can even shoot your friends. But it's a strange creature. There's no linear story progression, the content is totally player driven. There's no attempt to balance the game, or carebear players in any way shape or form. It's not a game so much as a harrowing existence you log into and out of. Yet in spite of breaking the rules, or perhaps because of it, it's a hugely popular game right now.
But it's made me wonder, what else is out there in the gaming world, left of center, doing something different, breaking some rules? What's giving people the opposite of TDM gameplay? I decided to check out Steam Store to see what else is out there, and I stumbled across a masterpiece.
Dear Esther is not so much a game, as an explorable narrative. You don't shoot baddies. You don't rescue the princess, or win the race or solve the puzzle. You certainly don't have other people shooting at you for your beans. You just turn the graphics up to OH MY GOD THAT"S GORGEOUS and walk yourself through a deeply cerebral, mature and hauntingly beautiful, masterfully written storyline. And as strange as that might sound, not only does it work, it's even got the pull to draw you back over and over. Just to walk around and look.
The video was enough to make me spend the ten bucks and check it out. When I got to the steam store page and saw the soundtrack was also available as extra content I went for that too. This won't be for everyone, but I'm sure some older gamers will love this.
Pro tip, pay the extra $5 and buy the soundtrack. Beautiful, sparse ambient music with more than a hint of Celtic influence by Jess Curry. If, like me, you're a self described audio nut, it's more like paying $15 for the half price soundtrack and getting a very beautiful and different gaming experience for free.
And the story? No spoilers, but also worth the price alone.