Also available on OSX
This is a...unique game. It's essentially a Western visual novel that harkens back to the early 2000s when AIM was the supreme instant messaging platform and you were a loser if AOL wasn't your ISP. It also could have been appropriately titled Teen Angst Simulator 2015. Just a little while, I forgot I wasn't in middle school anymore.
The whole game takes place on AIM in conversations spanning five years between you and Emily from your last year of high school to your last year of college. There's not really a purpose, per se, as the game is wholly slice of life, but wasn't that most of our AIM conversations? Talking to friends from school about stuff that didn't matter and awkwardly trying to flirt while having no idea how? The game seems a lot more straightforward than it is; there are numerous branching paths in the story and dialogue based on everything from the obvious like your dialogue choices all the way down to the seemingly insignificant like your icon and text color.
The biggest thing the game has going for it is the nostalgia factor. That's not to say that the rest is bad, but it took me less than half an hour to finish a playthrough, and while the different dialogue choices give it some replay value, it's just too short for me to fall in love with it. That nostalgia, though...I seriously miss being a kid with just a dial-up connection using AOL 4.0 on a Dell with a MASSIVE 32 GB hard drive and 128 MB of RAM. Teenagers today won't appreciate this game since they wouldn't have the fond AIM memories that folks my age and a little older do, but for those of us who remember going through school with AIM and AOL, this is a trip down Memory Lane, awkward angst and all.
Since it's free, Emily is Away is definitely a game that everyone should check out, and since you can get through it in half an hour or less for a single playthrough, there's not a whole lot of a time investment involved. Your age is definitely going to affect how much enjoyment you get out of it - if you're 40+, you probably won't have the same kind of nostalgia, and if you're younger than 20, you definitely won't - but for folks in that age range, it's a pretty unique experience, and most games don't play to that particular kind of nostalgia, at least not as the core concept. It would have been nice to see a little more meat per playthrough, but it's free, so you really can't complain too much. Give it a shot; if you really like it, there's a $5 sequel, though I've not downloaded that yet.
My Rating - 3 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.