Not only is Friday a day to celebrate the oncoming weekend, get a takeaway and go out for a couple of bevvies with your friends and family, for us here at GameSpew it’s time for #FreeGameFriday. That’s right Spewers; it’s the best day of the week.
Today’s #FreeGameFriday is a bit ironic. Not intentionally so, I hasten to add, but it’s a quirky coincidence: today’s free game is Emily is Away. Ironic in that your usual #FreeGameFriday feature queen is Emily, and she is, incidentally, away. Ahem.
I hadn’t heard of Emily is Away until recently, when it randomly caught my eye on Steam. An interactive story based on online chat? And free to download? I thought I’d give it a go.
I ended up playing it through twice, straight after each other. I have a short attention span, so it’s not often I do that kind of thing. Sure, Emily is Away is a short adventure – you’ll be done in less than an hour – but it’s captivating, emotional and nostalgic – and it’ll leave you wanting more.
There isn’t any actual gameplay to Emily is Away. It’s more of a simulation; you don’t need to do much besides select the odd dialogue choice, and bash your keyboard like a true maniac to simulate typing. The game is set completely in an AOL/MSN style messenger. For anyone who was a teenager during the early 2000’s, the nostalgia factor is sky high. You choose your name, choose your profile picture (a very important aspect of chat messenger, of course) and then begin your conversations with Emily.
Watch us play through Emily is Away in the video below:
The game is broken up into five chapters – each chapter representing one conversation between you and Emily from every year of your time away at college. You start as a high school senior, and you’ll finish in your last year of college, ready to graduate. Your conversations will change depending on what options you’ve chosen, so think carefully about how you want to treat Emily; that girl doesn’t forget!
Without giving too much away, the narrative here is a story about friendship, love, and how things can change and people drift apart. It’s hauntingly realistic at times; it’ll tug on your heartstrings and no doubt it’ll make you think back to those conversations you yourself had on MSN all those years ago. There are lots of little touches making the game feel more grounded in reality, too: your list of friends bolster their profiles with lyrics of their favourite songs (come on, you weren’t cool unless you had some deep and meaningful lyric in your status message), and the preset icons you can choose from include album covers from that time period. Snow Patrol’s Final Straw, anyone? Green Day’s American Idiot; even a bit of Muse thrown in for good measure.
Go on, go and give Emily is Away a try this weekend. We promise you’ll love it, even if you are left slightly more emotionally fragile than you were before you started.