Emily Is Away Is A Chat Client-Based Relationship Game

Ah, the good ol’ days of instant messenger. Hours upon end wasted, waiting for that guy or girl you fancied to sign in, before waiting five minutes to initiate conversation because, if 90s rom coms taught you nothing else, playing hard-to-get was the only way to woo the opposite sex. Five minutes later and they’d have signed out again. So many dreams, so many let downs.

Emily Is Away [official site], an interactive story set in a retro chat client, wants to revisit those days of yore/years of torment with its dialogue decision-based branching narrative that spans five chapters across five in-game years.

I’ve spent about about fifteen minutes with it and, yes, Emily Is Away does a fine job of transporting me back to a time in my life I’d mostly forgotten about. Ah yes, that time of excess in all the wrong areas: cheap cologne, hair gel, acne and emoticons. LOL. :) :P :O, etc.

The aim of the game is to pursue a relationship with the titular Emily character, all done via an old-fashioned instant-chat client. It looks a little something like this:

From what I’ve played, it’s good fun, for the nostalgia factor if nothing else, but I’m also keen to spend more time uncovering the game’s story. Here’s creator Kyle Seeley on what he’s trying to achieve:

Remember a time before Facebook and Skype? When Windows XP was the next big thing and AIM was king. Relive that era with Emily is Away. Create a screenname and browse buddy infos in this chat-bot-meets-adventure game.

“Explore your relationship with Emily, a fellow high school student, in a branching narrative where you choose the outcome. And most importantly, change your text color to lime green so people know you’re the coolest kid in school.

Good luck, mate. But if you’re anything like me, you’ve no chance.

Emily is Away will land on itch.io on October 16 and will be pay what you want.


  1. d70cw says:

    ….and now I want to drink myself stupid in a darkened room sobbing trying to forget THAT relationship.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      Currently drunk in a dark flat and you just reminded me of it.

      It does get better but it still hurts at times, in the dark, before falling asleep when the demons dance and everything is less real.

      As for the game, colour me interested! Hope it brings some of Digital: A Love Story to me.

  2. aliksy says:

    I still use AIM (via pidgin) to talk to two high school friends :(

  3. acheron says:

    Can you do the thing where you type a message in a girl’s window but don’t send it, then you set up your windows correctly, wait a few minutes to psych yourself up and maybe chat with somebody else, then you hit alt+tab and enter real quick to send it before you can back out?

    Uh, hypothetically, that could be a thing that someone might do.

  4. JFS says:

    Shit this should be trigger-warninged. People who were around back then visit this page, you know.

  5. LionsPhil says:

    Argh, mixels!

  6. Sin Vega says:

    AOL, bah! MSN was where the kool cids lived. Although it’s those icq sounds that really stir my nostalgia valves.

  7. Bradamantium says:

    I’d like to preemptively declare this one Games Writing of the Year winner, if its conversations are at all as thrilling as my own IMs from back in the day:

    Bradamantium has signed off.

    • Canadave says:

      Don’t forget this old classic:


      u there?

      Canadave has signed out

  8. engion3 says:

    I haven’t heard that door open sound for 10 years but right when I played the video I instantly looked for an AIM buddy list on my second monitor.

  9. tanith says:

    “Good luck, mate. But if you’re anything like me, you’ve no chance.”

    Sounds like I shouldn’t even bother then. :(

  10. GWOP says:

    I laughed at all those old farts being nostalgic about BBSs when playing Digital: A Love Story, and now I’m the old fart being nostalgic about early 2000s IM clients. :(

  11. Tuckey says:

    Is the pseudo-low resolution art style really necessary? I can’t imagine many people were running in sub-640×480 on XP in the late90s/early 00s.

    • dethtoll says:

      You’d be surprised.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I don’t believe XP will go below 640×480; hell, Windows 3.1 was happier at at least that res. I’ve certainly never encountered an ugly big-mixed-pixels version of Luna, so this falls under the scope of “really bad attempts at retro art that look substantially worse than their intended contemporaries”.

  12. Fenix says:

    Fuck my shit this dug up deeply buried memories. Maggot-ridden, smelly, best forgotten memories.

  13. racccoon says:

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    ÇÝër§ L8ër§!
    .oooO Oooo.
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  14. SCPhilly says:

    Stop putting the pussy on a pedestal guys (wise words if you understand it correctly).
    They are still human, just the opposite sex (that’s all!), stop giving them so much power, and stop looking for your “soul mate”, if you are meant to be with your soul mate it will happen over time, just have fun with dating for now!

    And more importantly, be up front with your intentions (not, “hey I want to have sex” kind of intentions, but the “wanna grab a drink sometime?” intentions).
    And most importantly, don’t treat sex as a big deal (exceptions for virgins I suppose….), it’s just sex, yes it’s fun, yes it feels good, but it’s not some be all end all type of thing.
    Relax, have fun!

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      You’re about fifteen years late with that advice, but thanks all the same :)

      • acheron says:

        LOL, exactly. Fortunately those days are long behind me. :)

  15. craigdolphin says:

    Huh. So none of the rest of you ended up marrying her?

    Weird. :P

    • d70cw says:

      some of us had these relationships after we were married

  16. Jackablade says:

    I miss you Glitter_Melon, even if the rational part of suspects that you were actually a man posing as a teenage girl.

  17. rekedens says:

    Oct 16 is my birthday. :D