Digital: A Love Story is a visual novel type game made by one single person. Impressive enough, at first glance. But given the travesty that was the last indie game I encountered in the course of these reviews, I understandably went into this one with a bit of caution. Nicely enough, it wasn’t needed at all.
Digital: A Love Story, henceforth to be referred to as simply Digital, is a Visual Novel type game, but with many rather unique differences. To start, there is only one path for the game. No good or bad ending, just an ending. Secondly, the game takes about one hour to complete. Just a single hour of your time. There are no character drawings or animations that appear, it is all just text. And yet, it provides some very interesting characters that you genuinely begin to care about.
The game basically takes place back when the internet was new, and you are using an interface designed to be like the old Amiga computers. In the process of the story, you connect to Bulletin Board Systems, read messages, dial into other ones with your virtual modem, and begin to piece together the plot, story, and characters.
The game in short and in spoiler form is about an AI you meet online without knowing she is an AI, she seems to be showing some major interest in you, then the BBS you were using goes down, along with a list of dead AIs appearing on another BBS that contains her name, which also is your clue that she is an AI. It turns out there is a virus attacking AIs. You manage to save her, and she then goes and sacrifices herself to destroy the virus so it won’t destroy any other AIs.
You are the typical silent protagonist, but it is taken to the extreme. You can reply to messages, but you never see your reply, nor do you ever encounter the choose an option. You simply choose to reply, and by replying to the right messages, you learn more about the setting, plot, or characters. Funny enough, while it sounds uninteresting, as you cannot see or interact with the other characters in the ways other visual novels allow, it actually adds a layer of mystery as to who these people really are. You receive responses from someone, who beyond a username is a total mystery.
Even plot elements have a feel of actually having achieved something. While another game may have you hack a computer by choosing the choice, Digital has you hack a computer by getting the hacking program, getting long distance codes, getting the address of the place, and actually preforming the hack. You need to reply to most every message to get all the details needed to advance the plot, such as the programs that allow you to hack into another BBS or to recover Emilia.
Instead of just choosing an option, you actually have to remember what other people said, put two and two together and then deduce from there how to proceed. As there is no ‘wrong’ answer that can really be given, you will always have the information required to proceed, it just takes a little bit of reasoning to get it all to work.
To summarize, it is an hour long game that does somehting unique and different, is absolutely free, made by one person, and is actually pretty compelling.
Pros: everything about it just works. Every element of the game helps to reinforce the story and characters, while nothing is really allowed to break the immersion. Characters are compelling, and the plot is interesting.
Cons: The only con is that I can’t really find anything to complain about. Even the single ending doesn’t discourage replay value.
You can get Digital from here: http://scoutshonour.com/digital/
Final suggestion: Get the game. It is honestly worth it.