From a time before Facebook Messenger and constantly available, unlimited texting, AIM was the king. Away messages full of out-of-context song lyrics and love quotes about a crush filled computer screens everywhere, and homework was tossed aside for chat rooms and Kid’s Only internet games. Emily is Away is here to bring on the nostalgia for those who grew up on the sound of dial-up modems.
Emily is Away is a text-based, branching narrative game: a little bit chat bot, a little bit adventure game. Players create a screen name and scroll through buddy info where they’ll eventually meet Emily. The game explores the relationship of the player and Emily, and the outcome is based entirely on the player’s choices and conversation avenues.
With buddy icons, away messages, and those IM dings that some hoped had disappeared from existence, Emily is Away spans five years of the characters’ lives over five chapters. Kyle Seeley came up with the idea for the game at Indie Cabin 2015; he wanted a game that could be relatable for all players but still unique to him. Diving headfirst into nostalgia territory, Seeley used his early experiences with AIM and recent years of college to create the game’s initial design. Since then, he created the full game with the decision-based, branching narrative.
Emily is Away is available on itch.io for PC, Mac, and Linux at a Name Your Price level, and Seeley is currently running a Steam Greenlight campaign for the game. For more information, check out the Emily is Away website or follow them on Twitter. Don’t forget to change the icon like all the cool kids.