Another game I tried recently on Steam (chiefly as it was free) is “Emily is Away”. It is marketed as a game which relives the days of MSN messenger or even ICQ where you’re cast in the role of a friend of the eponymous protagonist as you graduate High School and move on to College. The game takes place over five chapters (or years) as you interact with Emily at various points in your life. The decisions you make in the conversation will affect the outcome of the game. You type your answers (although random keyboard bashing is required than actual typing) to questions and generally respond to the situations as they unfold.

Ultimately, given the hype (hype is a strong word but it’s the only one I can think of) I was kind of expecting something more multi-faceted like Psy-High or Choice of the Deathless as interactive stories go. Emily is Away was kinda lacklustre in comparison. I’ve played through three times, making quite different choices each time and yet the conversations and the results have all pretty much ended up in the same place. The game feels like a really weak “Choose Your Own Adventure” where it doesn’t really matter what choices you make because the outcome is determined long in advance. Whilst the graphics and (limited) sounds have a faint ring of melancholy about them, that’s about the only point in the game’s favour.

Ultimately, this title is one that you can happily avoid in the future. Unless you crave the days pre-Skype of talking rubbish through the medium of internet messages. Thankfully, the use of “lol” is kept to an absolute minimum; one pro point.

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