Emily is Away <3 Review – Returning to the well for the third time

Emily is Away ❤ is the third installment in the Emily is Away series.  Once again players are taken into the world of retro chat agents with a compelling and interesting look at the world and story. 

In Emily is Away <3, the developers have taken a step forward and migrated from the AIM parody platform of the first two games to a spoof on Facebook, called Facenook.  While a majority of the game is focused on the Facenook Messenger, there’s a decent look at Facenook and the experience of using it to form a social circle.

And once again, Emily is Away ❤ is heavy with nostalgia for a bygone era of the early, less commercial Facebook.   It’s the beginning of the social media craze.  Where Emily is Away, and Emily is Away Too stoked memories of chatting on AOL’s messenger, Emily is Away ❤ can effortlessly bring those same feelings to the surface.

Nostalgia however will only go so far though a majority of Americas will likely be familiar with Facebook, the messenger on the app is perhaps a different story.  The fact that so much of Emily is Away ❤ is based on the original form of Facebook as well may cause some issues for the nostalgia, but that might be overcome by the story. 

Emily is Away ❤ delves into the deep interpersonal relationship between a variety of people.  Where the first game focused on conversations with someone named Emily and how AIM kept people connected yet at arm’s reach, Emily is Away Too added in a love triangle to develop a more interesting and deeper look when talking to two characters, Emily and Evelyn.

Emily is Away ❤ goes all out, and rather than just use a pair of characters, Emily is Away ❤ seems to develop a whole social group.  There are at least seven characters that the player can interact with and have conversations with.   

Though Emily is Away ❤ remains stuck with the original game’s one major issue.  Players can’t really “talk” to anyone in the game, rather players can choose from three different messages to decide what their response will be.  Players then will mash the keyboard to pretend to be typing it out or turn on Autotype, but overall it’s not exactly a deep experience. 

However, this is also where Emily is Away ❤ starts to have new issues.  Where the original two titles were limited to just a messenger app with the expectation that you would focus there, Facenook, the in-universe Facebook equivalent, has pages you can flip through on each character.  But also the Facenook Messenger is rather slow, with responses appearing about every twenty or thirty seconds instead of five.   So much of the game is either pretending to type a response, waiting to hit enter, or just waiting for the next message to pop up. 

While Emily is Away ❤ is broken up into five chapters, it was only around the middle of chapter three where I started to struggle with the response speed, and yet there was no way to change it. 

Still, when the messages arrived, Emily is Away ❤ delivers that same intimate feeling the first two titles had, where you feel like you’re able to connect with people through the game, the writing is top-notch and can manipulate people into feeling that this is more than a game, even as it’s a fully scripted experience. 

The intimacy though leads to the second major issue with Emily is Away <3.  Ultimately this is a story-driven game, and while players will want to ‘win’ the game and earn the best ending, potentially wanting a deeper more meaningful relationship with their chosen paramour… that’s not to be. 

There are multiple endings possible in Emily is Away <3, however, a “best” ending isn’t available from the start of the game.  According to sources online, players will have to complete one playthrough and then attempt a second playthrough of the opposite character due to a choice between Emily and Evelyn still existing in this title. 

The issue is that this comes after approximately 4 hours, and if players choose to chase the other character, they’re in for around the same length of time.  That long twenty-second delay between messages seems to be permanently forced on players, and suddenly there’s less reason to explore Facenook even with some new characters becoming available. 

Ultimately Emily is Away <3’s biggest flaw is how much the developer asks of players to just experience the majority of the game.  There are five playthroughs required just to get the major endings, approximately four additional smaller endings possible.  But Emily is Away ❤ makes it hard for players to want to return to the game to experience the alternate pathways due to the experience provided.

It’s not that Emily is Away ❤ is a poor game.  I had a consistent flashback to feelings that I was involved in romantic discussions with people online, the same experience that the previous two titles provoked, but where the previous titles made me want to experience more of the game, Emily is Away ❤ left me more annoyed by the mechanics presented, than enjoying the experience that had just occurred.

It’s a shame, but I feel like I had to force myself grinding through the slow messages just to chase a better ending, because ultimately, a little different text isn’t enough of a reward to replay such a long game, nor would I want to replay it three more times for different results.  

It’s the reason I won’t be returning and the reason I can’t recommend this title, even while I enjoyed myself for the first playthrough. 

I give Emily is Away ❤ an arbitrary 


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