Dear Esther may very well be the most famous “walking simulator” ever released, and also one of the best. Its 2012 release made enough of an impact that a remastered version called the Landmark Edition is in the works, and in October people who live in and around the great city of London will have the opportunity to enjoy it in an entirely new way: As a live stage play.
“Starting on a small beach, with only a brooding cliffs and a small lighthouse in view, BAFTA-nominated narrator Oliver Dimsdale takes you through the game, journeying from the desolate Hebridean island to a car crash on the M5, a crisis of faith of a guilty heart, the lost shores of a dreamed shoreline and a final ascent through the waters of madness to the release of flight,” the play’s description explains. “With the playthrough of the game on-screen accompanied by live narration and a live performance of BAFTA-winning composer Jessica Curry’s powerful score, the story is even more brought to life here.”
I would absolutely attend this play if I could. I very much enjoyed Dear Esther in videogame form, and the chance to see a live performance by Jessica Curry, who composed and performed its soundtrack, would be worth the price of admission entirely on its own. And I think that having the interactivity, such as it is, taken out of the audience’s hands will result in a very new sort of experience, too. Say what you will about walking simulators, but losing all control of your actions within the game world—to basically be caught within another person’s dream—and to be forced to simply watch and listen may well lead to a very different perspective on what’s happening.
Sadly, I won’t be anywhere near the UK when the players hit the stage, but maybe someone will sneak in a camera. Dear Esther will be performed at 7:30 pm UK time on October 14, at the Milton Court Concert Hall. Tickets are £22.50 plus booking fee. Full details and links to book tickets for those of you who will be in the neighborhood are at barbican.org.uk.