PAX East 2017: Emily Is Away Too Preview

Originally published on Trevor Trove on March 18, 2017

Emily Is Away Too, the spiritual successor to 2015’s Emily Is Away, still manages to capture the same nostalgia of the original. I never played the original but I’d heard plenty of nice praise about it so I was glad to sit down with it at PAX East (also because anyone who played would have their screenname inserted into final build of the game as a randomized option. I almost went with AfroboyTrevor to be period appropriate but ultimately stuck with snarkystarkey).

While the first game kept it’s story-telling vehicle confined to the AOL Instant Messenger design, Emily Is Away Too builds upon that. Set around the summer of 2006, your conversation will start in AOL Instant Messenger, but characters will link you to their favorite songs via a YouTube-type site, complete with working links to other videos. You’ll also be able to visit profiles on an early-era Facebook-type website. But the driving force of the conversation will still take place in your AIM window.

Emily Is Away focused on your AIM relationship with Emily piecing together conversations over the course of a senior year in high school through the senior year of college. Emily Is Away Too offers two characters to really interact with: Emily and Eva. This immediately transported me back to my own high school years flirting with friends over AIM. It was typically harmless flirtation but in high school of course, things will never ever feel more important than they do in that moment. So accidentally cracking and inside joke with the wrong person immediately feels like life is over.

Because I didn’t want to spoil too much of the game for myself, I really only played the first of two chapters on display. And even though the time period represents one where I had already moved on to Facebook, email, and texting as my go-to forms of communications, the sights, sounds, videos, and music of the era are immediately recognizable.

And for those who played the first title and may have been disappointed by the singular ending, developer Kyle Seeley shared that (as of that build) there were currently four different endings to the game based on your interactions, including a much sought after “good” ending.

The original Emily Is Away is available for free on Steam. Emily Is Away Too is set for release in May.

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