After “Emily is away” and “Emily is away too”, “Emily is away <3” is the third in this game series. I am not going to write about the first two games here, but if you already know these games, then you’ll be familiar with the mechanics of “Emily is away <3” as well.
It’s the year 2008. AIM is dead and Facenook is where you have to be! You’re a high school student in your senior year and just signed up on Facenook. Four of your friends are on your friends list there and you’re messaging with some of them, while also writing on each other’s walls, posting photos, etc. But almost all of the game takes place by sending direct messages to two friends: Evelyn and Emily. Sometimes, you receive a link to a website – mostly on youtoob – like this one (it links to the game’s website where a music video is embedded from YouTube). So when it comes to immersion, that’s definitely there!
Of course, there is also drama in your little group of friends which is the topic in some of the messages as well. When you receive a direct message, you can reply by choosing one of several options. You can also freely browse the Facenook profiles of your friends or look at your own.
This game has the usual problem that games have which give you short answering-options like “I like them” and when you click that option, your character replies in full length but with a different content (in this case, “I like them” was changed to “oh shit hey, i love [insert name of a band]!”. I had picked this option because it said “like” and I figured that’s kind of neutral leaning towards a positive impression of the band.
Another thing that I don’t like too much is that I don’t know when exactly the game auto-saves. So I keep playing, forgetting to check if it auto-saved and then miss the point where it did.
The funny thing about the “Emily is away”-series is that I only vaguely remember the stories of the first two games. I know I liked them, but I wouldn’t say they belong to the best (story) games that I ever played. I would probably rather say that it’s a snippet out of somebody’s life that you’re experiencing. Overall, the game (as well as the two predecessors) definitely gives me nostalgic feelings. Most of my conservations like this did happen on AIM (and on ICQ with fellow Germans), though, but we were also talking about music, sharing songs, about the last year of school and whether we had already chosen where to go and what to do after school finished. And, like most groups of friends, we also had our drama.
I haven’t finished playing through “Emily is away <3” yet, so I don’t know how the story ends, but it seems to be similar in tone to the other two. I’d be curious to hear what players think about the game that never even chatted on AIM – or, as I have heard about younger generations – that do not even use Facebook. Or maybe it’s not so much the means of communication and more the general content of almost being finished with school, having the whole world in front of you, so to say, and your group of friends to socialize with and this is why it makes you feel nostalgic.
I think the game does a fine job and it doesn’t have to have a grand story. It does have different endings depending on your choices, though, and apparently encourages you to play through more than once to see or get some other endings. I tried not to read too much about that in order to not get too many spoilers. I also tend to not replay games like this because I like having this one playthrough be “the only story”. But if you are into that, then you will get even more playtime out of this one game!
My verdict: If I didn’t already have this game, then it would be a reason for me to get this month’s Humble Choice – but only if there was at least one other game I’d be interested in because “Emily is away <3” costs 8,19 € on Steam and a month of Humble Choice costs 9 or 10 € (depending on your plan).
This post is part of the blogger community collaboration (started by Leaflocker in this blog post) where we’re reviewing games that are part of the current month’s Humble Choice.