By Vaile 8 Comments
If it weren't for Mass Effect 2 or Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Digital: A Love Story would be my 2010 game of the year. I'm the first to admit that my inability to really enjoy Red Dead Redemption is my own fault for "not getting it," but that's a story for another time.
I'm warning you now, my synopsis will have some minor, untagged spoilers. If you're planning on playing the game, you might want to skip them over. But you already knew that.
The game begins innocently enough, with a simple interface and a simple concept: Check the BBSes you gain access to and reply. Right off the bat, you're introduced to a pretty unique concept. Because you don't actually see the messages you send to other forum-goers, you're left to infer the content of your replies. This, plus the personalization of your name being used in messages, adds to the sense that you're actually using a 1998 Amiga.
One of the first messages you receive is from a girl named Emilia. The two of you hit it off, and after some time, she admits to having feelings for you. By now, you've developed somewhat of a rapport with the character, and you as a player should at least feel a concern for her fate.
This is important, because before you're given a chance to reply to Emilia's declaration of love, the BBS crashes, and you're thrown into a conspiracy involving, shockingly, the government. It isn't long before you discover a secret about Emilia that completely throws everything you knew about both the character and your relationship with her out the window.
That's the brilliance of Digital. Like I've mentioned above, you're meant to feel as if you actually are browsing these BBSes. Moreso than you feel like you're saving Earth in Halo or making your destiny in The Elder Scrolls. If you're anything like the emotional sap that I am, this revelation will blow your mind. By the time you get to the end, your repetitive clicking of the "reply" button will be with great hesitation. Not because it's boring, but because you can hardly bear to read the next response.
Digital: A Love Story hit me harder than almost every other game I've played. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm letting what's nothing more than a retro gimmick get to my head. Regardless of whether or not I'm fooling myself, the emotional reaction I had was completely real.
I really could not recommend it more.