So let’s start with the basics, shall we? Digital: a Love Story is an indie game written and developed by one Christine Love, billed as a romance/mystery. It’s available for free here and it’s pretty short, so if you’re interested in the stuff I talk about in this review there’s really no reason to not give it a try. It’s so short in fact, that I run the very real risk of spending more time typing up this review than I actually spent playing the game. Digital: a Love Story is a visual novel, one of those things that we in the western world aren’t quite sure where they fit in the video game sphere. You could call it an adventure game, if your one of those people that likes to combine the two genres. I think the official test for adventure game vs. visual novel is whether or not you have to hit a yeti in the face with a pie. You do not have to do that in this game, so I guess visual novel it is.
Digital is set in 1988, and takes place entirely on the screen of your computer, with all your interactions taking place over Bulletin Board Systems. Supposedly, it’s all very historically accurate, but I’m not so sure about that. I don’t remember 1988 very well, but I’m pretty sure computers were made out of rocks, and their proto-internet thing was really just a bunch of cans tied together by string. Anyways, you play the role of Badman “Aether” Wargang. It gives you the option to pick your own name and nethandle, so I suppose you could play someone else, but I don’t know why you would want to. You are the lucky recipient of a brand new Amie computer, which comes equipped with a music player,a messaging system, a dial-up modem and… well, that’s about it. Still, I’m sure that was the top of the line for 1988’s rock-based technology. The dial-up modem lets you connect to your first Bulletin Board System, which works pretty much like our modern forums do. You read topics, make friends, learn about other BBSs, and meet a girl. You and that girl send messages back and forth for a while, before she decides to do… something. It’s not exactly clear at the time, and I don’t want to spoil it now, so you’ll just have to sit on that. Anyways, she decides to do something, and right before she does that something, she sends you one last message confessing her love for you. Then she disappears and the BBS you both were using crashes. And the Sysop for the BBS finds a cry for help directed to you in the wreckage of the BBS’s code. And that’s where the mystery part comes in. Using what clues you have, and what hacking programs your BBS friends can give you, it’s up to you to track her down.