Growing up in the age of the Internet, chances are you spent some time on IRC or various instant-messaging clients such as ICQ. Now you can relive the time before Facebook and Twitter with an interactive story game called Emily is Away.
The game places you in the role of one of titular character Emily’s friends, who is heavily implied to be a love interest. You communicate with her through an IM client similar to AOL Instant Messenger. A lot of the talk revolves around assorted mundane topics like rock bands and mutual friends, but there are crucial points concerning plans for the future and dealing with abusive relationships. It’s up to you how to respond to Emily, showing an interest in her life or rebuffing her attempts to further your relationship.
It’s a thought-provoking and surprisingly emotional experiment in interactive narration, but what stands out is the presentation. It’s made to resemble a low-fidelity approximation of Windows XP, complete with the same system sounds and blue/green colour scheme. There are amusing little touches, such as your character making typos and correcting them, or deleting a potentially incriminating sentence. There are also assorted avatars for you to pick which correspond to popular trends of the early 2000s, particularly bands and movies, which truly give it a sense of reliving the recent past.
Head over to the official page at itch.io to download a copy right now. There’s builds for Windows, Mac and Linux, so everyone can get in on the action. It’s also been greenlit on Steam, so expect an enhanced version on that platform in future.