Hello, friends! Things have been far busier than I expected them to be. I didn’t anticipate my commissions suddenly bursting with activity, and that’s kept me busy the past few weeks. On top of that, if you haven’t heard, I am going on tour in the month of March, so booking events has taken up a lot of time as well. However, the lovely enchantedsleeper commissioned me to play a visual novel that is DESTROYING MY LIFE in the best way possible. Let’s discuss!
So, let’s start with the beginning of this very unusual game.
All I know about Digital: A Love Story is that it was a visual novel, but… well, that didn’t really prepare me for what I was about to experience. This game was so vastly different from what Re: Allistair++ was like that this alone made it fun to play.
From here on out, there are plot/game spoilers ahead!
I have played this game for three hours so far, and I still don’t think I’m near the ending. This is part love story, part murder mystery (I THINK???), and part loving ode to the days when the Internet was… well, not what it is today. The entire game takes place on a virtual desktop, where you can read emails, dial up to get online (COMPLETE WITH THE SOUND OH GOD I HAD FLASHBACKS TO THOSE HORRIBLE DAYS), and… okay, I don’t want to spoil everything. Some of it you’ll have to find out for yourself.
Anyway, this is what the game looks like:
It is deceptively simple. What starts out as a nice visual novel that’s essentially you posting on a couple different messageboards turns into… oh lord. But even before a particularly disturbing mystery is introduced, I was impressed with how this game was able to re-create exactly what it’s like to post on the Internet. You get into petty fights about Star Trek: The Next Generation with people! I’m serious. Can you guess how that one ended?
IS ANYONE SURPRISED.
As far as the gameplay, this is a point-and-click style visual novel, and there is a lot of clicking. At least as far as I’ve gotten into the game, most of the action takes place in your message inbox and online through multiple BBS sites. I’ve gotten to The Underground Library myself and am currently trying to hack into it. Seriously, there’s hacking!
And this is just the simple shit, y’all. This game gets exponentially more complex, as you have to pay attention to emails you get in order to find clues. These clues lead you to your next action. When your long distance codes expire, how do you get more? When the password you’re given doesn’t work, is there someone you know that you can write about it? There were times where I couldn’t get the game to do anything new because I’d not replied to the right person. My only complaint about Digital is that at times, things are a bit tedious, at least early in the game when you only have two places to go. In order to trigger your inbox to refresh and show new messages, you often have to sign in to one of the BBS sites you have, and that can get repetitive.
However, once this kicks into gear, IT IS SO FUN. It’s seriously like Sherlock in the digital age. Of course, the big kicker is more emotional than anything else. Throughout this game, you become closer with a young woman named Emilia, who opens up to you about her life. (Somewhat. She’s purposely coy at times for reasons I can’t spoil quite yet.) The two of you grow close (this is where the love story comes in) until she finally admits that she has grown rather fond of you. Like, “Oh my god, I’m in love with someone on the Internet” kind of fond. And right after that happens?
YEAH. LOOK AT THAT LAST NAME. That name had not appeared in the game at all before this in any other context than the person you’re talking to. What the fuck, Emilia was murdered? She was an AI??? And then Digital spirals into chaos. Holy crap, sites are hacked, there’s ~political and cyber intrigue~, and I’m currently talking to everyone I can to see if they know anything about her. The Underground Library apparently has files related to her, so I’m trying to break in there right now.
This is a lengthy game; I imagine it takes 4-5 hours or so to beat. Thankfully, the game auto-saves your progress, and at any time, you can save it manually, too! It’s actually kind of cool that I didn’t finish this because I want to see if any of you can solve it as well. I’m going to play it more later today, and I’ll post comments about my progress. LET’S FIND EMILIA, EVERYONE!
Mega thanks to enchantedsleeper for commissioning this. You should check out her cyperpunk Peter Pan story out if you’re interested! In terms of posts for this site, I hope to FINALLY get some time to start The Walking Dead and Mass Effect in the coming weeks before I go on tour. I’ll post on Twitter if I have any reviews that will be posted!
Mark Links Stuff
– I am going on tour in 2013! There are 27 tour dates spread across the eastern half of North America. Please help suggest venues, offer up a place to crash, and RSVP for dates near you!
– ALL VIDEO COMMISSIONS WILL CLOSE ON FEBRUARY 9TH SO THAT I CAN WRITE POSTS IN ADVANCE FOR TOUR. The only exception to this are any upcoming projects I am doing, so I have listed all upcoming Mark Reads posts that are missing commissions.
– You can, however, commission me to read bad fic/fiction on ANY Mark Does Stuff Tour date. You can claim a specific date to have a live reading right here.