Some things affect me very greatly. Sometimes I don’t expect them to.
Apparently, when I do, I just sort of sit back and watch the thing try. It’s kind of sad, and I can’t help feeling that someone has cheated me. I also tend to suspect that that someone is just me.
Digital: A Love Story is one of those artsy games that you find by chance. Or if you have a friend who trawls the web for such games, and tends to talk about them incessantly. Fortunately, my case was one of the former. It’s free, so go ahead and play it instead of reading this. I’m just trying to think about my own reaction. I don’t think that this will really count as any kind of review, though I should probably tag/categorise it as such.
The idea is pretty simple. You are an end user in 1988 (I’m assuming USA), and you’re discovering your new Amie (Amiga expy?) computer and BBSes. I liked the GUI, it reminded me of my old DOS machine, the black and amber giant–as well as my early days playing games in WinFrotz. Anyway, in going through the various BBSes, you learn how to go beyond what is initially available to you, and you develop a relationship with someone called Emilia.
I think that the relationship is what lost me.
Which is really stupid, considering that’s the point. It’s a star-crossed lovers story, and the player is meant to be one of the lovers. I kind of have a real one. I am also not very romance-minded, never mind what I read (and write, heh). I do still get swept up listening to Dearest or Powder Snow, but that’s a kind of abstract thing. My point is, I didn’t feel drawn in or particularly involved.
And I cannot for the life of me tell if that’s the fault of the game or me. Did the game’s narrative and admittedly limited gameplay just oversell itself to an eyebrow-raising sceptic? …maybe I just blamed everyone, there. Huh. Does not help that my knowledge of the game beforehand included knowing that some people cried at the end. I’m not a contrary person who determines not to do that kind of thing just because I know someone else did. In fact, I’m the kind of person who hears that and then goes in wanting to see if that happens to me. Straddling the line between wanting that outcome and daring it to try.
The game did make me think, but kind of like when one reads a short story and feels unfulfilled while wishing it had been a concept explored at novel-length.