Emily Is Away Too is a creative nostalgia trip that takes you all the way back to ’06: MSN, AOL, and high school woes.
Emily Is Away Too is the follow-up to indie game developer Kyle Seeley’s well received Emily Is Away. The story is presented through a AOL Instant Messenger style-chat, where the protagonist (you) talks with the game’s characters as the story develops. Throughout the 3-4 hour game, you are able to subtly change the course of the story based on your responses to the two characters, Evelyn and Emily.
The single player game takes you back to the culture of ’06-’07: Harry Potter, Sims 2, Lupe Fiasco, old YouTube (‘Youtoob’) and the introduction to Facebook (‘Facenook’).
Throughout Emily Is Away Too, players are able to completely indulge in the days past: listen to throwback songs, explore Facebook’s old interface, and remember old videos such as ‘Numa Numa’ and ‘Shoes’.
Playing Emily Is Away Too is akin to a quote from 8 Simple Rules that I’ve somehow always remembered: “It’s kind of like cleaning out an attic. If you just did the work you’d be done in 30 minutes. It’s the memories that slow you down.”
The best part of the gaming experience is how accurately Seeley was able to nail the nuances of those years, and how we interacted with one another. Throughout the first 4/5 chapters, the characters feel completely real in a way that is captivating and surprising.
Alternatively, the 5th chapter can get… strange? Based on the answers each character throughout the game prior, the narrative can get a little twisted. Without spoiling anything, I found the reaction I got from one of the characters to be a completely overblown in comparison to what my offense was.
At this point of the game if the characters decided that you have fucked up, there’s no amount of sugar coating, apologizing or honesty that can amend things. That’s was a little disappointing, because no matter how I decided to play this chapter, I felt like I lost. It left me thinking, “…that’s it?” and soured my enjoyment of the game a little.
Upon second playing, however, I got an ending that felt more justified; I just wish that the “losing” ending was a little less contrived.
At the beginning of each chapter, you get to change your bio and buddy icon. And, when talking to the characters, you have to option to respond with 1 of 3 things. Players must construct their personality within the constraints of the options presented, however this should be expected for most games of a similar nature. There is also no option to play as a female character, which may disappoint some people.
That said, it really is a game worthy of playing, especially if you were in middle school or high school in 2006/07. Emily Is Away Too is more than a story, it’s a complete trip down memory lane.
It executes its highpoints excellently, and only falls a little short towards the end of the story. But even with the slight falter, Emily Is Away Too succeeds.
Buy it here