Capsule Review: Digital: A Love Story

A game played by visiting BBSs and exchanging messages in an alternate 1988. The player interacts with the desktop of a fictional computer and progresses by clicking icons and buttons, reading lots of text, and typing in passwords and phone numbers.

As a story-telling method, the interface is a mixed bag. It’s atmospheric and immersive, but the limitations of the in-game UI can become tedious as there are a lot of numbers and passwords to find and manually type in. The story is linear, but it’s not always obvious what needs to be done next which can make the player feel more involved but may also prompt them to simply visit all available BBSs which feels rote.

While much of the initial charm comes from nostalgia for the way computers and the internet used to be, there’s more to the game than that. It gradually becomes clear that the world of the game differs from the real one in some important ways, but by then you’ve already met and gotten to know some people and you’re likely to care about them.

I am convinced that writing good characters is Christine Love’s superpower. This was her first major game, and its characters are already consistently strong, realistic, and likeable. The game also features many of the themes that crop up in most of her work, and at roughly an hour long it can serve as an effective introduction. But you’ll need a bit of patience for the unpolished storytelling on offer - otherwise you’re better off jumping ahead to one of the game’s spiritual sequels.

I Stopped Playing When: I finished the story.

Docprof's Rating:

Three Stars: Good. I liked the game enough to finish it (or just play it a bunch, for games that don't end). I recommend it to most genre fans.

You can get it or learn more here.