The suicide at the heart of Dear Esther

Gothic themes, tropes and narrative converge in the 2012 videogame Dear Esther. Set in perpetual twilight, on a deserted Hebridean island, this game is part of a growing sub-genre known as the ‘first-person walker’, which involves the player exploring a typically Gothic space – a setting as evocative as that of Frankenstein or Wuthering Heights. Through a subversion of gaming expectations and tropes, this chapter argues that Dear Esther's control system and lack of interactivity with the game’s landscape allows the player to take the role of a ghost, haunting the island, as she uncovers a narrative of loss and suicide. The chapter further argues that through the game’s construction, the player forces the narrator – an unnamed male whom the player hears as she walks across and even inside the island, delivering fragments of letters to the titular Esther – to endlessly repeat his suicide and the events that lead to it.

in Suicide and the Gothic