Digital: A Love Story
Digital: A Love Story is a free video game that mixes a desktop simulator with an interactive novel. It was developed and published by Christine Love for Linux, Macintosh, and Windows on February 2010. The game was created using Ren'Py. The game is set in 1988 and you play a lone hacker who uses pre-Internet Bulletin Board Systems to uncover a conspiracy and find love.
I found this game because it was highly ranked on JayIsGames. After beating it, my overall feel was an unfinished game that could have been a better with a lot more polish.
The game is free. I beat it on 2019-09-19.
Best Version: Windows
— This section contains spoilers! —
- The game does a fairly decent job of emulating the feel of a pre-Internet computer which had access to basically nothing.
- Although strong AI wasn't really plausible in the late 1980s, I still liked the idea of the story.
- I like the implied reply mechanic where you have to figure out what you wrote based on the replies.
- The game has pretty great MOD music.
- I enjoyed the BBS chatter about sci-fi and fantasy books, shows, and amateur fiction, and liked the title pages.
- I never really felt much of an attachment to Emilia. There just wasn't enough character expansion for me to appreciate her, so the ending didn't mean much to me. There needed to be more flirting, and it would help if she sent you a "picture" of herself.
- The developer missed a lot of opportunities to add puzzles into the game. Password cracking, brute forcing long distance codes, debugging your C compiler, upgrading your OS, etc. These could have all been gamified, but they just happen without any effort on the player's behalf. I understand that visual novels rarely have gaming elements, but the way this was setup, it seemed like it should have had them.
- The UI is pretty limited (you can't move the windows, clicking off the dialer cancels it, etc.) and a little buggy (you can click through windows and hit the buttons behind them). It would have been nice if these were cleaned up.
- I would have liked to see more images. The game is severely graphically challenged. The Amiga, which the UI is designed to emulate, was actually pretty graphically strong for the time.
- I didn't quite see the point of being able to send individual private messages when you could send them all at once. It confused me if I needed to send them manually each time. Also, I don't know why you can download messages manually when you still have to be connected to the BBS to retrieve them. I only saw a use for it on The Underground Library BBS that disconnected you.
- As you reach the ending, the messages seem to outpace the game. For example, I was getting messages about *Reaper taking out servers before I even noticed the servers were down.
- Another damsel in distress, but at least she becomes a heroine in her own right.
- 1980s computers used bitmap fonts which always had a full set for their codepage. This means, you would never see a missing glyph (the box with the x in it) that is displayed in the error screen. This is a minor issue, but it hurt the immersion.
- I've read that there is a bug in the game which can cause *Emilia to stop talking to you which prevents further plot development, but I've never encountered it.
- Having to manually dial all of the numbers over and over... and over again was really tedious. While I was fun doing it once and hearing the old modem sounds again, but even in the 1980s, programs existed to let you auto-dial numbers, and the game should have worked this in.
- lparchive.org/Digital-A-Love-Story - Let's play.