Love is really driving the whole ~computer interface~ gimmick into the ground, eh? I kind of wonder if maybe she’s good at writing monologues but just doesn’t know how to write an actual narrative and has become reliant on it as a quick way to skip writing scene transitions and time passages.
This game has basically none of the plusses of Analogue and all of the flaws, including thinking very highly of itself for being ~subversie~. Ohmygod, a person in love with a computer???? What could this mean??? No one has done this before!!!!
It manages to come across as both very proud of itself and very empty at the same time. Though I’ll give it this, it definitely made me feel like a 1337 h4x0r by the end.
I think I would have been more amiable to this had a played it before Analogue, though I probably would have been harder on Analogue then which would have been sad because it was really good. You could also argue that Analogue was the dev’s refining of the interface developed here, but the same type of gimmick is used in her other VN, so it makes me wonder exactly why she keeps doing this. It’s beyond thinking it adds anything to the story– in Hate Plus it seriously detracts– so I’m skeptical of the reliance on it.
Anyway, this VN can be killed in like an hour. It lacks the empathetic characterization of Analogue– it lacks characterization and, really, characters at all, really– and drives forward on a loose plot and some clever puzzle elements. If you have literally nothing better to do there’s nothing to lose by checking it out; it’s freeware.
The basic idea is you’re a kid with a computer and a modem in 1988, and you trounce around the 6-bit proto-internet chatting on BBSes and hacking shit. You strike up a back-and-forth with an AI named *Emilia, who randomly decides she loves you, because that’s apparently what happens in these games, AI constructs randomly decide they’re madly in love with the closest sapience after minimal interaction. Or IDK if you somehow taught your dog to interact with one, presumably it’d be in love with the dog 10 minutes later.
Anyway, one day the local BBS goes down, taking *Emilia with it. You have to find out a) if she can be saved and b) how to stop the crash that disappeared her from destroying the proto-internet. You soon find out you’re in an AU where a hyperintelligent self-aware AI spawned a bunch of “children” who live on the proto-internet and something is systematically murdering them.
The writing was solid for it was, but there wasn’t really anything to it. *Emilia didn’t have any kind of actual personality; I didn’t feel anything for her. You have a pittance of fawning emails from her and then she declares her love and I guess in-game you has nothing better to do so you see what’s up with her disappearance. She’s the only other character that could reasonably be called a character as opposed to like “plot-line spitting machine” or something.
The best part of this game was the puzzle element, where you had to use Programming Logic to work your way around the proto-internet and save things. The puzzles weren’t hard or complex, but they were satisfying in a Lite way. The insidious nature of the plot was pretty cool. I felt good about myself for saving the proto-internet when it ended.
That’s… really it. There’s not much to this game. It’s certainly not a “love story.” It’s just… there.
It did feel very… smug. I can’t quite articulate why, but it just seemed so proud of itself. For knowing about computers, for having an AI be self-aware, for the computer-interface gimmick, for having read Shakespeare, for everything. It just seemed like it was under the impression every little thing it did was innovative.
I just can’t believe the dev repeats this damn format again for “Don’t Take It Personally…”.