dear esther

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Inspired by games like Dear Esther and Gone Home, as well as the film Shogun Assassin, Niten is a first-person exploration game in which you roam the lush landscapes and stunning vistas of a mysterious island. Discover audio fragments and even unlock a graphic novel as you explore the island, learning its secrets and stories — like the story of a Samurai master and his orphaned disciple, who once lived there.

“Experience a place where ancient Japanese culture meets breathtaking scenery, blossoming cherry trees, and a sky that will tell you a story in itself,” says creator Donald Macdonald. “From the deepest bamboo forest and the open field with its colourful and vibrant flowers to the spine-chilling darkness of the mysterious cave and the serene lake filled with water lilies, the island is yours to explore as you wish.”

Help bring this beautiful, immersive game to your console here.


The visual design of Dear Esther is where the majority of the player’s attention will have to be focused throughout the experience, especially when it comes to navigating later sections. What the game is masterful at doing, however, is transitioning from understated guidance to over-stimulation. This is perhaps best indicated with the chemical symbols that are at first scattered throughout the environment in small, individual doses, and later completely overtake cavern upon cavern- the visual design takes the unfamiliar, and makes it so prevalent that it becomes a part of the landscape in a stunning fashion.


dear esther. i sometimes feel as if i’ve given birth to this island. somewhere, between the longitude and latitude a split opened up and it beached remotely here. no matter how hard i correlate, it remains a singularity, an alpha point in my life that refuses all hypothesis. i return each time leaving fresh markers that i hope, in the full glare of my hopelessness, will have blossomed into fresh insight in the interim.
How walking sims became as important as the first-person shooter
Games like Dear Esther take the environmental lessons of shooters and divert the focus from action to introversion
By Keith Stuart

First-person shooters like Doom and Unreal revolutionised our understanding of space, structure and embodiment in games. They put players into the body of a killing machine and set them lose. First-person walking sims have taken the environmental lessons, the same ideas of architectural structure as a form of storytelling, and diverted the focus from action to introversion. They leave the player alone in a world with their own thoughts.

On why ‘walking simulators’ are important.