Emily is Away, is a retro (set in early 2000s) instant messaging style game. It takes me back to my high school days, using MSN messenger to awkwardly converse with people you might not otherwise have the guts to talk to in person. The era of this experience perfectly aligned with my experience of that time #nostalgia.
The game is basically an interactive narrative, giving you the illusion of choice in a lot of cases, by presenting you with 3 options of response during an online chat with your best friend, Emily. You chat on and off over 5 years and consequently have life changing events to discuss, including (spoiler alert!) your relationship that may or may not turn into something more than just friends. That was actually the let down for me – although I liked the game and the narrative was well paced and easy to engage with, the fact that your character IS male (whether you are or not) kind of sucks. It would have been great if there were 2 branches that followed the same story arc, but were played out as a male or female character. It would have been so easy as you are simply typing in an online chat window and have no sense of your physical person in the game. I had to play along as a broody teenage guy pining after Emily which wasn’t something I could relate to. If it had been in reverse, I definitely would have had a deeper connection with this simple, yet well executed game.