-by Dylan DiBona
For full comprehension, I think it would be best to quickly read through my review of the original Emily is Away. If you don’t want to, then here are a few quick things you should know about the first game:
- It’s about 30 minutes long
- It’s free
- Gameplay is simple IM chatting with one person
I forgot about the cleverly named Emily is Away Too until about week before its release. Being a big fan of the original for its down to Earth tone, I was excited. It wasn’t until the day after release that I realized the sequel wouldn’t be free, this time the ticket fee was five dollars. I wasn’t sure if such a simple game deserved it, but I decided “why not?” and picked it up. But was Emily is Away worth double dipping and actually paying for?
You play a high school student who is entering his senior year. You have two good friends. Emily is the video game loving, semi-nerdy girl who doesn’t go to parties, drink or smoke. You and her are alike in interested and personalities. There’s also Evelyn, who is passionate about music, does go to parties and delve into that other stuff. Through the “EOL” instant messaging program, you have conversations with both of these people.
Due to teenage angst and other life problems, the story has many emotional ups and downs. It’s an enjoyable experience and I won’t spoil anything. I will say, one minor gripe I should’ve brought up in my review of the original came back up in the sequel; sometimes certain dialogue or situations seem a little unfounded. To best enjoy the Emily is Away games, imagine these teenagers as more anxious and emotional than most.
The game is split up into five chapters which take about fifteen to twenty minutes to complete depending on your reading speed and reaction time. Like before, gameplay primarily consists of replying to your friends’ messages. I’m not sure if it’s just my keyboard, but with both of these games, typing the responses can be unresponsive at time. I switched over to the auto-type option, which does exactly as it sounds once I click my dialogue choice.
By far the greatest addition is all the immersion tools that developer Kyle Seeley implemented. The girls will often send you links to music videos on “Youtoob” which you can actually click on and listen to music. This gives the games a soundtrack in a sense. They will also send you files that you have to actually download onto your desktop and check out (they’re all safe files, don’t worry). The game actually opens up with allowing you to choose a desktop background and asks you to apply in reality. Sometimes you’ll be able to go onto “Facenook” and check out your friends profiles. The best part of these segments is figuring out which pages you can actually click on, it’s like finding secret immersion.
What can I say? It’s exactly like how I used to IM online friends back in 2006-2009. The game is set in early 2000’s and it captures the aesthetic perfectly. You can hear the hum of an old computer and all the real life AOL sound effects. In-game websites are decorated with fictional comments, logos and images.
Once again, immersion.
By textbook definition, Emily is Away Too is exactly what a sequel should be. Instead of thirty minutes, it’s an hour to an hour and a half. Instead of only talking to one person, you talk to two (actually more through the power of easter eggs, which are so very well implemented, but I’ll keep those a secret because they’re funny). There’s not just one ending, there’s a bunch of them.
The simplicity of IMing isn’t an easy concept to expand on, because how do you do it without getting boring and repetitive? If Kyle Seeley goes for a third game, he has a challenge ahead of him for topping this entry. I went back for a second ending and with the hidden “profile pic” collectibles and my desire to see all dialogue, there’s a decent amount of replayablity here.
Emily is Away Too is an astounding game.
I really do hope there are more Emily’s in my future.
This is so far the highest rated game on my site since I’ve started using my new review scale! If you’re curious about Emily is Away, I recommend downloading the first game for free on Steam; it should take you just as long to finish as a cup of coffee. As always, thanks for reading.
Confused on my review score? Click here for an explanation!