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 

6/10

If you enjoyed this and want to see more from me, you can check out my youtube channel at 

https://www.youtube.com/c/KinglinkReviews

Humble Choice July 2021 Review – An average month, with average games.

I’m Kinglink and it’s time for the Humble Choice July 2021 Review. 

Once again I’m back after playing each game for an hour, and I should be able to tell you who is going to enjoy each title, and who might want to skip them.  It’s a strange month so let’s just get to the games and talk about them. Starting with a major franchise…

Yakuza 3 Remastered.  If you’ve been a Humble Choice member for a while, you’ve probably already seen Yakuza 0, Kiwami, and Kiwami 2, which was the first trilogy of Yakuza games for the PC.  It appears that trend is continuing, with Yakuza 3 Remastered this time. 

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The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit Review – A free but still incredible adventure

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit was a lead-in to Life is Strange 2.  It is designed to be a title that helped promote the new title in the franchise, but also is a standalone title for the majority of it, and is quite well made. 

Captain Spirit focuses on a young boy, Chris Eriksen, and his desire to be a superhero, a common dream of young kids, and a relatable one.  He imagines himself as Captain Spirit with a band of fellow superheroes who fight against a league of villains. 

Of course, this is just a fantasy, and while the trailer hints that Chris Eriksen has some kind of special powers, this doesn’t appear to be the case.  Instead, DontNod develops another interesting and unique character and shows why they are revered as great storytellers. 

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Life Is Strange: Before the Storm Review – An amazing prequel, if a bit weaker.

Life Is Strange was a unique but well-made game that took the Telltale Games’ formula and improved on it to make an amazing experience, but its major accomplishments feel unique to the point that a return to the same game could never live up to the original.

At the same time, prequels can be extremely hard to pull off. It’s worse when the story is the key component of the game, and players already know the results of the character’s arcs. Yet Life Is Strange: Before the Storm is a prequel that tries to do just that and seems to succeed.

Life Is Strange: Before The Storm revolves around Chloe, Max’s friend from the original Life is Strange. In Life Is Strange, Chloe is a punk dropout of a prestigious academy, and much of the game revolves around Chloe and Max. In addition, there’s a missing girl known as Rachel Amber, who is unseen and unknown though Life Is Strange does explore and explain her disappearance.

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The Shapeshifting Detective – A step back but not unplayable

The Shapeshifting Detective is an FMV game. This is from the same studio as The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker and is the followup title.

An FMV game is mostly about having a live actor talk directly to the camera and player and act out their role, then the player has some level of interactivity. In The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, it was a complex language system where it tries to parse questions from the viewer and respond, though that system didn’t work exactly as promised. The Shapeshifting Detective took a step back from that and created a better framework, and it’s a huge improvement.

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Telling Lies – Exploring the sequel to Her Story

Telling Lies is from Sam Barlow who previously made Her Story, a very popular indie game that is worthy of quite a bit of praise. Telling Lies is promised to be bigger, better, and more in-depth and it has succeeded at that.

Telling Lies focuses on David Smith, as he has moved across the country for work… ok that’s not exactly it, the problem with Telling Lies is similar to Her Story’s issue. The entire game is driven by the narrative and ultimately the discovery of that narrative is crucial to the game. There’s not a huge gameplay system or a separate puzzle, it’s about how the player discovers and learns about the story and the slow reveal of it, and thus much of the story is a spoiler.

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Her Story Design Review – Revisiting one of the best video game stories of all time

I’m Kinglink and this week we’re talking about Her Story as well as some other FMV games including Late Shift, The Infectious Madness of Dr. Dekker, and Telling Lies.

Long time fans of the channel may realize I have a fondness for stories in video games and have enjoyed many visual novels, including Eliza, the first two Danganronpa, and more due to their stories. Yet I often feel that stories and narratives are poorly done in the video game industry, usually relying on how movies and books tell stories without considering the interactive nature of the medium.

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Ladykiller In A Bind – Review – Perhaps this erotic game goes too far

This is a script from the following Youtube video, feel free to read it, or watch the video below as you see fit.

Before we begin this video, I need to have a disclaimer. Ladykiller in a Bind is not the normal type of game I review. This game has very harsh language, swearing, and sexual content, and more. I actually couldn’t remove the swearing for this video because it’s in so many lines. If this is not what you’re looking for, check out another of my videos, but realize that this is going to be a more mature video and topic. There is no nudity in the video, but there is in the game, but you are now warned.

With that said, hello Horny gamers, you are horny aren’t you since you stuck around. I’m Kinglink and this is my review of Ladykiller in a Bind.

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Eliza – Review – What happens when a studio who has mastered game play, focuses on a story.

Played on Windows.
Also on Linux and macOS.

Zachtronics has been one of the studios that I’ve continuously supported. I’ve owned and played all their games from this team, and have loved pretty much all of them. So about a month ago when it was announced that Zachtronics would be putting out a Visual Novel, I was sold just by the studio’s history even if it was a departure from the type of game they are known for.

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Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Review

Played on Windows
Also Available on Linux, macOS, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita, (PlayStation Portable in Japan only)

After reviewing Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc in September 2018, it stuck in my head. The story was good and the game was unique, so ultimately I’m going to give it a special award. It was the first game where I felt I needed to play its sequel. I did abstain from it for a little while waiting for a good price, but I also needed to play more of it. And thus we return to Hope’s Peak Academy, for Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. Three months later and we’re going back to school.

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