Quite a few weeks back, somebody recommended I try Nestlings, a mod for Half Life 2 by Lewis Denby.  This is available on ModDB, and requires Half Life 2: Episode 2.

Rather than a game, this was described as “an experiment in story and mood”.
You start off facing an old, abandoned-looking house, completely surrounded by darkness.  Oh, what to do?

There’s a note pinned to the wall by the door which sets the scene – someone conducting some kind of research out here, all alone.. and imploring ‘Annabelle’ to turn around and run away.  Creepy.

There are more notes scattered in the rooms of the house, pages from a diary with details of research into the Nestlings, some kind of supernatural creatures from out in the forest.  I was expecting these Nestlings to jump out at me as I started to explore the rooms, but I made it upstairs without incident..

Through the ground floor, I managed to find the diary pages in the right order, but upstairs I turned left to start at one end, rather than opening the door directly in front of me.  This meant I came across the last note first; this page had a key attached which would unlock the attic.

I checked out the other rooms before heading up the ladder, as I really didn’t want to miss anything.. but after that there was only the attic left..

I think one of these bodies has to be the researcher, as the diary pages all foreshadow him being at the “peak of the house”, but I think that the second is Annabelle.  I think she would have come looking for the researcher and either died of the illness mentioned in her note, or met the same fate as he did.

After reading Annabelle’s note, the attic door slid shut and the lighting changed; after the lack of anything jumping out on me previously, this actually made me scream! 🙂

The abandoned house and rather abstract story reminded me of Dear Esther, another experimental story-mod I played a while back.
Looking at the developer’s blog, it seems Dear Esther has had a few updates over the past few months with some amazing looking graphical tweaks too!  He also mentions another, final, level is in the works, which I’m sure will be well worth checking out when the time comes.

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