If you were a teen before the 2010s then you remember the instant messenger apps before Skype. “Emily is Away Too” is an instant messenger visual novel game that is a companion to “Emily is Away”, set in the years 2006-2007. The game starts during the end of “Emily is Away”, meaning all new characters and story line. This time instead of just Emily, the protagonist also shares messenger conversations with a girl named Evelyn. Unlike “Emily is Away”, “Emily is Away Too” only spans throughout the characters’ senior year from summer of 2006 to summer of 2007.
Players still get to choose their display icon for each chapter as well as font color, background color, and quote options based on the music and pop culture of the time. Both Emily and Evelyn will comment on what you choose as your display picture and quotes throughout the game. The messenger interface is reminiscent to the early 2000s MSN messenger program. A lot of the music, events, and diction very much remind me of my MSN messenger days back in 2005-2008. You’re also able to export the chat logs from each chapter as if it really is a messenger application.
The introduction to links such as “YouToob” and “Facenook” gives the characters more depth and increases the sense of realism that this game has. As the player, at times I very much felt like this was real messenger conversation I would have had back in 2006. Emily and Evelyn are both very different characters with different taste in music, hobbies, and come from a different group of friends. Emily is a long time friend since the beginning of high school and Evelyn is a girl you met in a class during junior year that you’re just starting to get to know. The two girls do ask the protagonist similar questions during different instance throughout the chapters and because they’re so different it’s easy to get caught up in a lie or fake persona for each girl. In order to get a positive ending it’s best to be consistent in your answers to each girl because your lies will catch up to you.
During my first play through, I naturally gravitated to Evelyn because she reminded me of myself back in 2006 (I actually went to warped tour summer of 06). So I began playing giving answers and choosing decisions that Evelyn favored which in turn distanced my character from Emily during our conversations. My character continued his friendship with both characters, but there is a point where you have to choose between one or the other. During the end of the last chapter my character became the boyfriend of Evelyn while having a more distant friendship with Emily who seemed disappointed that he has gotten so close with Evelyn. Even with its ups and downs, the game had a much happier ending compared to “Emily is Away”.
I really enjoyed the game and it did evoke a lot of nostalgia for me and probably anyone who remembers early 2000s instant messaging. “Emily is Away Too”is a very enjoyable game because of its simple and mundane story line that does bring back memories of high school with both its ups and downs. The interface is very retro in a nostalgic way with both its visual and audio quality. Honestly if you enjoy leisure games such as visual novels and even text based games then this is the game for you.