How story-driven games incorporate the screenlife technology

22 February 2019

Minimalism is often dictated by reasons that are quite trivial, like financial constraint and deadlines. On the other hand, it is precisely the conscious denial of cornerstone elements that allows deeper exploitation of the expressive possibilities that may eventually lead to an even more powerful impression compared to many AAA titles. Screenlife is gradually becoming one of the main ways for game developers, especially indie ones, to tell their breathtaking and unique stories. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most successful examples from the world of video games

Emily Is Away

Free-to-play visual novel by indie developer Kyle Seeley offers a very appealing and nostalgic experience of the early-to-mid 2000s. The game simulates the PC interface of the “Windows XP” era, more precisely the chat client of that time styled after ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger, complete with users’ profiles. Profile pictures are generally collected from the mass culture of the 2000s.
Emily Is Away tells us the story of the protagonist’s relationship with a girl, Emily, from the senior year of high school to the senior year of college. The game narrative is filled with the spirit of friendship, adolescent love and the inevitable disappointment which they are accompanied by.
A sequel and a spiritual successor known as Emily Is Away Too was released in 2017, introducing the development of the original ideas.

Replica: A Little Temporary Safety

Set in the dystopian environment, this interactive novel game gives you a chance to feel like an undercover government agent. Your goal is to find the evidence of terrorism by hacking the stranger’s smartphone.
The game focuses on such topics as paranoia, censorship, cruelty and the smartphone generation. Many critics have described it as Papers, Please but with iPhones instead of passports.
Peeping into someone’s personal life, inspecting the cellphone usage history and browsing through social media activity records brings a truly thrilling yet ambiguous sensation.

I Am Innocent

One more game that demonstrates quite an original approach to a storytelling through screenlife technology. I Am Innocent is a story-driven detective game with puzzle elements in which you are investigating a series of brutal murders that are somehow connected to the mysterious disappearance of your sister many years ago. Your tools and methods are not that different from everyday life: in-game phone calls, a messenger, photographs, and documents. Surprising as it may seem, all these aspects make the game extremely exciting to play.