Mark Plays ‘Digital: A Love Story’

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:

Screen Shot 2013-02-07 at 6.11.20 PM

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?

Screen Shot 2013-02-07 at 7.21.35 PM

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!

Screen Shot 2013-02-07 at 7.24.44 PM

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?

Screen Shot 2013-02-07 at 7.41.39 PM

 

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.

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31 Responses to Mark Plays ‘Digital: A Love Story’

  1. Sarah S says:

    All I can say is, oh my God, the old dial-up noise. That makes me so nostalgic for the early days of the internet. So many good memories, flame wars, Buffy posting boards, now-defunct web sites . . .

  2. RocketDarkness says:

    This game is fantastic, and I highly recommend you check out her other two games: "Don't take it personally, babe, it just ain't your story" and "Analogue: A Hate Story". They're all vastly different in tone and gameplay (DTIPBIJAYS is a more traditional visual novel, while Analogue is almost exclusively reading), but they all have very interesting things to say about humanity and society. CANNOT recommend them enough.

  3. enchantedsleeper says:

    Hi Mark! I'm really psyched that you like this game, but sorry for so badly underestimating how long it would take you! I forgot about the learning curve for figuring out the interface when you're a first-time player. My first time playing this game was almost two years ago and I forgot how long it actually took me; instead I was thinking of the second time I played through the game and actually solved it (failed the first time) when of course I already knew my way around the controls by then.

    But I hope that it was somewhat entertaining to play through and that you maybe even got to the end of the plot? Sorry for commissioning you to do a thing that sucked up so much of your free time. I know how little of that you have these days. xD Thanks again for doing this!!

    • Huanir says:

      "failed the first time"

      Is there an alternate ending? Or did you fail in the sense that you stopped playing?

      • enchantedsleeper says:

        Nah, there isn't. I thought I'd messed up the plot but actually I was just stuck. After I read over the thread on Lemma Soft I realised what I should have done but I was too tired to go back and do it all again xD So I saved it for a rainy day.

  4. Mark Does Stuff says:

    OH MY GOD I have been playing for an hour and I JUST FIGURED OUT THE PASSWORD FOR THE UNDERGROUND LIBRARY

    L O L

  5. Mark Does Stuff says:

    I just noticed this in Sector 001:

    <img src="http://www.markplays.net/reviews/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Screen-Shot-2013-02-07-at-7.38.44-PM.png"&gt;

    LOL 50 MB i have apps on my phone bigger than this L O L

  6. Ryan Lohner says:

    I finished it in a couple hours.

    How does a game with such a simple interface give me so many feelings?

    • Ember Quill says:

      When you figure out the answer, you can tell me.

      (Ending Spoilers)
      Frevbhfyl, gur raqvat npghnyyl oebhtug grnef gb zl rlrf. Arire unf fhpu n fvzcyr tnzr (onfvpnyyl n tybevsvrq grkg nqiragher) rire znqr zr srry fb urycyrff naq fnq ng gur raq. V jnf zbirq. Gur svany pbairefngvba jvgu *Rzvyvn znqr zr jnag gb pel.

  7. Huanir says:

    Have begun playing. This new format wherein Mark Plays contains smaller projects has the benefit of introducing me to gems I'd never have otherwise noticed.

    Which is not to say that I'm not SUPER LOOKING FORWARD to Mass Effect. ME + Dollhouse are why I opened an account for commenting in the first place. :P

    It's a bit odd to switch from that game to my HD desktop, with its two browsers open (for some reason I've started running both Chrome and Firefox simultaneously) and iTunes in the background. And the dial-up tone! I haven't heard that since high school (my parents were very late adopters of high-speed Internet)!

    Well, time to Skyrim for a bit. And then imagine that my Replies in Digital in some way mention that I'm from the future and that nobody will believe their eyes.

    P.S. Rules question: if I have a suggestion for a simple game that I'd like to see Mark play, is this an appropriate place to say that?

    • enchantedsleeper says:

      P.S. Rules question: if I have a suggestion for a simple game that I'd like to see Mark play, is this an appropriate place to say that?

      OBVS I'm not Mark, but you should probably check the existing Suggestions page first to see if anyone has already submitted it. If not, then you might as well make a thread for it there. Or just commission him to play it :3

      • Huanir says:

        How does one commission a playthrough?

        • Ryan Lohner says:

          Same way as reading or watching.

          • Huanir says:

            Thanks. :) I went to the other sites for more info and saw the following:

            NOTE: Because of the Mark Does Stuff Tour, all non-Confirmed List commissions are CLOSED as of February 9th. I cannot read any fanfic, do any re-watches/re-reads, or do Mark Plays videos until further notice, with the exception of LIVE Mark Does Stuff videos for tour.

          • enchantedsleeper says:

            Yes, they're only closed for a few weeks though. You can commission after the tour :3

    • Huanir says:

      I just finished Digital. Ah, emotions…

      Incidentally, here's the rot13 of the binary-to-ASCII text of the core dump (I think this description is sufficiently non-spoilery):

      zl anzr vf rzvyvn
      v jnf obea gb haqrefgnaq cbrgel
      ohg nppv

      • enchantedsleeper says:

        Gung'f fb pbby, ohg jung'f jvgu gur ynfg yvar? Ybbxf yvxr vg phgf bss…

        • Huanir says:

          Vg qbrf. Lbh pna bayl frr cneg bs gur pber qhzc. Rira jung'f gurer vf phg bss; gur obggbz ebj bs ovanel qvtvgf unf bayl unys bs gur qvtvgf qvfcynlrq. Cerfhznoyl, gur qhzc xrrcf ba tbvat jvgu n pbzcyrgr qrfpevcgvba bs Rzvyvn, ohg gurer'f ab fpebyyvat guebhtu vaqvivqhny zrffntrf va Qvtvgny.

          • enchantedsleeper says:

            Nnnu, tbg vg. Fgvyy, V ybir gurfr yvggyr qrgnvyf va gur tnzr, gurl ernyyl gnxr vg hc n yriry va grezf bs dhnyvgl. Nf fbba nf V fnj gung Znex unq cynlrq n IA (Er: Nyvfgnve++) V xarj V unq gb pbzzvffvba uvz gb qb guvf kQ

            V qba'g grpuavpnyyl arrq gb ebg13 nyy guvf, ohg vg'f sha…

          • Dinare says:

            Jbj, V qvqa'g rira pbafvqre gung gurer zvtug or nabgure zrffntr va rzvyvn.pber.

            Guvf vf na nznmvat tnzr, naq V bayl whfg svavfurq vg zlfrys. Erfg Va Crnpr *Rzvyvn

          • enchantedsleeper says:

            V'z unccl gung lbh tbg gb rkcrevrapr vg gbb :D

  8. Jessica says:

    I know that I may still be a few weeks off because of the tour and you being busy with other stuff but I am very excited to see you start playing the Walking Dead. The reactions that I've seen for it on let's play's have been awesome and I loved playing through myself so I'm really excited to see you respond to it because of how involved you get in the story/characters of everything you do :).

  9. Julia says:

    Damnit, Mark, I'm supposed to be studying. How am I supposed to do that when you keep showing all these awesome games that I've never heard of and must play?

  10. Ember Quill says:

    Never heard of this, but I really want to try it now!

  11. djinn says:

    This looks really interesting! Where can I play it?

  12. Cass says:

    Ah, this game. I always have this problem with it where I like the writing, I like the mystery, and as someone who was on BBSes in the 80s it gives me all types of nostalgia feels, but the love story flops so badly for me that it dulls the whole thing in my eyes. Emilia confesses to you and my reaction is just "Oh, please, y'all have known each other for, like, 20 minutes during which you've exchanged a handful of messages which was barely enough for you to even start getting to know each other." I think if I'd played this when I was younger I would have liked it a great deal more, but over the years characters falling for each other in a snap has become the (relatively harmlesstrope that I have the least patience with in fiction and it keeps me from getting emotionally involved.

    • *Mute says:

      I don't know about that- one of the things that struck me was that while the player's relationship with *Emilia develops ridiculously quickly, gurl qba'g npghnyyl raq hc gbtrgure. Vafgrnq, fur fnpevsvprf urefrys sbe gur fnxr bs ure snzvyl.

  13. JEmontague says:

    All my creys, what a great game.

Comments are closed.