I really wonder how I missed this one. While I’m sure most of you have already been playing this, I only discovered it a few days ago and have been hooked ever since. It’s called Digital: A Love Story, and it’s an interactive story set in 1988, written/created by Christine Love. The interface of the game is the Amiga Workbench, and you progress through the story by reading, replying, and hacking BBSs using your modem.
I don’t really know how to describe what exactly Digital is. The interface is basically a replica of version 1.0 of the Amiga Workbench, and you progress through the story by using your modem to dial into several bulletin board bystems. You also need to hack the phone system to dial into long distance BBSs, and use several other AmigaOS utilities to unravel the story.
Since I haven’t completed the game/story yet, I can’t say too much about how it will develop, but so far, the main storyline hasn’t let me down. The characters you meet on the bulletin boards feel alive and real (at one point I realised I actually cared about the people involved), and aside from the main plot, you’ll end up in all sorts of funny discussions and debates all too reminiscent of the web today. The beauty here is that you never see your own messages – just those that are being sent to you, which tickles your imagination to fill in the blanks. Inventive.
I can’t guarantee you’ll like it, and some of you will be put off by the “work” you need to do to progress the story, but trust me – it’s totally worth it. It’s available as a free download for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. It’s written in the Ren’Py visual novel engine, and in case you’re worried Digital has Japanese influences: it doesn’t.