Remember the hayday of MSN Messenger and AIM? I know I do. I have fond memories of getting in from school diving onto whichever IM was popular at the time, and talking with friends.
I have no idea what I had to talk about back then, but one thing I do remember is using the confidence found from being behind a computer screen to talk with people I probably wouldn’t dare talk to, face to face, namely.. girls.
Unfortunately kids today won’t ever really experience the joy of hearing the login sound of your crush, or waiting a few minutes before clicking on their name and striking up a conversation just so you don’t seem too keen. What they can do though, is play Emily is Away, a new indie game from kyleseeley23 on itch.io.
In short it’s a text-based narrative-driven dating sim involving a girl named Emily. You can choose to try and date her, or simply just be her friend.
The game is brilliantly designed as it throws you back to 2002, a time where Windows XP was the current Windows OS, Eminem was relevant, and we had nothing better to do than to kick back on MSN and AIM all day. It’s designed to look and feel like we did back in 2002 with the sound of the hard drive spinning up, the sounds of other friends logging in and out, and the sound you receive each time a message is sent or received.
The game has players joining Emily for a conversation year after year as you both go through high school to sophomore year at college all the way to senior year, all while dealing with what seems like a long-distant relationship where you talk about what could have been, or what even had been depending on the outcome.
The game gives players a number of choices to choose, and instead of just pointing and clicking players are required to actually type on the keyboard to get the text to appear in the window.
This game, at least for me, really hits home as during those very years I was glued to my PC. Instant Messengers were the bomb, and I spent most of my years talking to friends via MSN. Hell I even asked my now-wife out via MSN Messenger. I have some pretty fond memories of IM.
Though the game is relatively short, there is some level of replayability as you can revisit the game and choose different options. Do you want to pry into Emily’s possible relationships or stay out of it. Do you want to try and rekindle what you had during highschool or are you happy with your new group of friends? These choices play a big part in how your story unfolds as in typical Telltale fashion, Emily will remember that.
If you’ve got a spare hour on your hands, I’d give Emily is Away a try, especially if you grew up on instant messaging services such as AIM and MSN Messenger. You can choose to pay what you want via the Itch.io page right here. It’s also been greenlit on Steam, so look out for that too.