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Esther In The Headlights: Dear Esteban

A windmill. But what is wind? And what does utilitarianism have to do with the price of oatcakes?

This is the very first time that you have been here before. The whales are watching you. They know what you did. What did you do? Ask the whales but they won’t tell you because they are silent. Mysteriously silent. You probably killed someone and it might have been an accident but there’s almost definitely blood on your hands or lipstick on your collar, or a ghost in your shoe. The hills have the answers but they’re as quiet as the whales. Only the wind has a voice and it whispers so quietly that all you can make out is a name. Esteban. Download Dear Esteban to learn the truth about your past and that girl with the eighties hair. It’s free.

Guess which game Dear Esteban parodies? It’ll take five minutes out of your day and there’s only a 12% chance that you’ll regret sacrificing them to its odd charms.

Fuck This Jam ran from November 9th through to the 17th and asked developers to make games in genres that they hated. The manifesto admirably states: “Through utter ignorance for conventions and hate for the established rules of a genre, beautiful things will happen.” There might well be some beauties among the entries, but mischievous and amusing things happened as well.

I like quiet contemplation, I really do, but I’ve always thought Dear Esther would be improved if something happened. Who would have thought that the appearance of a soaring sky-whale would do the trick? I wish Esteban was a total conversion of the original rather than an independent entity, a beautifully weird mod that added more animated nonsense to that bleak island than a volume of Lear.

The developers have this to say:

We love Dear Esther. Dear Esteban was made in good fun & parody. Dear Esteban is not so much ‘Fuck This’. It’s more a love letter to Dear Esther from the weird kid who doesn’t have a shot but you kind of feel bad for.

It doesn’t seem like anything more than a joke at first, strings of nonsense draped across the sky like the drool on a mad dog’s jowls. You might argue that brevity prevents Esteban from offering any intricate desconstruction or insight into the narrated stroll genre, but I reckon you’d be missing the point. Sometimes, especially in the face of a thing that seems so defiantly serious about itself, a custard pie can be an invaluable device for everybody involved.

And yet, despite how daft it all is, I swear there may be some dark meaning in the voiceover. Perhaps that’s the punchline. Some of us find meaning in words and sights just as we find faces in clouds. Now, does anyone have a monochrome indie art game called Pareidolia for me to rave about?

Via Indiegames.com.

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Adam Smith

former Deputy Editor

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