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.