A little back story about this series. Emily is Away is loosely a choose your own adventure story that reliving the 90’s in a nutshell. Where AOL was the place to be and you talked to all your high school or college friends after school and classes. Spoilers for those who haven’t played the first one. There is one ending and no matter what you do, you will get the same ending regardless of your choices. If you would like a quick play through of the first one Markipler does a good job of it with his play through of it here. Now let’s look at the sequel and the changes.
It starts off like its predecessor, dictating what you want your Username is and what your real name is. What is different though is this time you are messaged first rather than being the one who sends the first message. That is not the only thing either that has changed. There are now two people in this game that you interact with and your choices this time actually matter! Which leads into the games major mechanic which is choosing. You choose who you will be spending more time talking to. Punk4eva, Evelyn, or Emerz35, Emily. I have no clue if this is the same Emily from the previous game but doubtful that it is. You choose what to say and how quickly you say it. It’s a large change from the first one where no matter what you picked the end was predetermined.
Games like this are very reminiscent of the choose your own adventure books we may have read back in elementary school. Reading a chapter but immediately going back because we didn’t like what we read and are flipping to the other choice. Unlike those books, in this game once we pick one we are stuck with it, unless we quit the game and redo everything until we get to that part again. Regardless though the games really make it know that your choices matter, and even by the end of it even minor choices have large effects on the ending. Causing you to reread the conversations with Emily or Evelyn repeated trying to figure out when you screwed up and if there is any way you can save the relationships.
The above screenshot is when I screwed of one of my second play through where I tried to focus on Evelyn’s story line and made a mistake on a choice. I had a walk through up since I had played multiple times before and wanted the perfect ending. That being said, the beefed-up mechanics system that choices now matter. There are now multiple endings in this one compared to the first one where no matter what we got the same ending, an ending to be honest is extremely sad and disappointing.
For Emily is Away too, there are about five are so endings that I have found. Two ending where things work out and you end up dating either Emily or Evelyn. Another 2 where you chose one of them but end up running the relationship by trying to date the other at the same time. So, dating Emily first then trying to date Evelyn too, or vice versa. The last ending is where you do not date either girl and running both friendships.The emotional pull of this game is crazy, Cassandra Khaw from Eurogammer.net did a review on this game that backs up the emotional appeal saying:
Emily is Away Too had me walking away from the last chapter feeling like I’d been kicked. For the ghost of a moment, I caught myself thinking, “I need to call X. I need to make this right.” And it is hard not to endorse a game that leaves such a strong impression.
Also, the YouTuber Marikplier, whose play through I linked earlier for the first game, does a run of this sequel as well. His run is like his first one but freaks out once he realizes that his choices now matter. I would suggest giving it a watch, its split into two parts but worth the watch.
Overall, I really enjoyed Emily is away too. The change in mechanics, that the choice I make matter now, made the story and the game incredible for satisfying. While also giving you the chance to read everything before deciding. Until the game decides that time is now a factor, which it is in real life, and gives you a timer to reply before the person is annoyed with you and logs off. I would suggest giving the game a chance if you have five dollars to spare. You will get your money’s worth.