Emily is Away was an odd one. On one hand, it was very easy in the sense that you can’t really fail and it’s pretty short, but on the other hand it appears to be impossible to get a good ending. I’m not sure I missed anything, as I played it through a few times and although you can get different endings, none of them I’d suggest were “good”.
The game I’ve played before which is most like Emily is Away is probably the iOS game Lifeline. Whereas that played out like a Choose Your Own Adventure in real-time over a course of a few days, Emily is Away is real-time multiple choice AOL chat-alike played out one chat per year over five years.
You’re Emily’s friend, and you chat about music, school, college and friends. Depending on your actions, your relationship with her can be platonic, unrequited or temporarily requited (it seems), as you live apart for your college years and she ends up in a strained relationship with Brad while you offer advice from afar. Will she see your advice as interfering, helpful, or with an ulterior motive? That’s where the sometimes ambiguous multiple choice comes in.
Ultimately, all my attempts ended up with me being miserable, her being miserable, or both of us being miserable – and with us losing our friendship completely. See, no good ending. Actually, there’s an early tip-off that there’s no good ending when Emily tells you she’s really into Coldplay. That probably tells you a lot about Emily.
It was an interesting game to play, and since it’s free (or “pay what you want”, if you want) it’s definitely worth a look. Just don’t expect any sort of happy ending.