Capsule Review: Emily is Away

A lightly-interactive story about half an hour long, told in the format of a series of AIM conversations between high school and then college students in the early 2000s. If you’re in the right demographic segment, this game is a dose of nostalgia. Either way, it’s frustrating - you make some choices, but other things are decided for you. You’ll get blamed for or called upon to defend actions your character apparently took between the conversations and outside of your control. When it becomes clear that you can’t actually steer the story the choices you do get become less of an opportunity and more of a chore. It’s also a chore because once you pick a response, you’re not done - you have to hit keys to type in the response, but you don’t know the text so you’re just mashing the keyboard - and pretty often, your character will make and correct typos or change their word choice. This feels like an attempt to increase immersion, but a failed one, just steering you into an uncanny valley of interactivity. Ultimately I feel like there’s not much value in this story being packaged in an interactive medium - the only value it can have comes from nostalgia, and when the things it’s evoking nostalgia for are set up to be frustrating and sad, there’s very little appeal.

I Stopped Playing When: I finished the story once.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

You can get it or learn more here.