Who doesn’t love a love letter?
…These were the letters telling of a love, spanning across the ocean. Telling of a love, so strong, it could not be broken by distance, nor time. It tells of a journey into uncertainty, in search of a better life.
This is the story of John and Emily.
Of all of the games from The Panic Room’s online store, I was most interested in trying My Dearest Emily, having heard many people talking about it. I wasn’t entirely sure of the story, and what to expect, but we’ve played a few of the Panic Room online experiences, and many of them revolve around a murder mystery/solve the crime theme, so I was very much looking forward to the change of pace.
And a change of pace is exactly what we got. Rather than the “whodunnit” of the Panic Room’s CSI games, My Dearest Emily presented us with a short history lesson and the story of John and Emily. This is the type of game I would have loved to have played on a cold rainy day, wrapped in a blanket, accompanied by a hot chocolate; it just had a lovely, cosy feeling.
If you’ve read any of our reviews of the other online games from The Panic Room, some of this will feel a little repetitive to you, as the set up for all of their games (that we’ve played) is identical. My Dearest Emily is a purely online game, using a simple, but effective website to house the game, which allows multiple connections for players playing in separate households. (Or side by side on the couch, as we were.) As we found with the other games we played from the Panic Room, the most annoying thing from a technical standpoint is that the password fields are obscured. Now, this is necessary for your banking password, but not so necessary here, and can be rather irritating when entering a 21 letter password, as it begs the question, “Is it wrong, or is it a typo?” when you inevitably enter something that doesn’t unlock the next page. I know that this is due to the limitations of the software, but it was the one thing that would have improved the gameplay for me.
John’s love letters to Emily provide the basis for the story and the game, so it should come as no surprise that there will be a great deal of reading involved. And while the handwritten style of the font at times felt quite difficult to read, it was possible to have the letters read aloud to you, or simply skim them for the information needed if you’re not interested in their love story.
Unlike the earlier Panic Room games, where the soundtrack needed to be downloaded, My Dearest Emily had an accompanying soundtrack that could be played from the browser. The music gave the game a lovely peaceful feeling, and we took our time, savouring the puzzles and beautiful illustrations as we unlocked each month in sequence, finally reaching the beautiful ending and final love letter.
My Dearest Emily provided several instances in which I thought, “Oh, I like that.” It was so pleasing to always find that the puzzles were on theme, and many were more complex, and rather drawn out, but with no timer, there was no pressure to solve them quickly. While the game wasn’t a digital “escape” game where one might need to scour an image for a key, it still managed to evoke a feeling of exploration as it progressed, as we found ourselves searching through previous letters for solutions.
Difficulty is always a difficult thing to judge. We did find that the puzzles felt a bit more difficult than in some of the other games on offer from The Panic Room, but often because several were multi-step, and therefore took more time to work through, but in reality, each was fair and completely logical, and as we actually didn’t require any clues, which is always a good sign (I think).
There’s really not much to talk about here. The Panic Room have stuck with what works, with a series of clues available for you to reveal beneath each letter, and finally the solution if you’re really stuck. I would have loved to have seen the clues written in the same voice as the letters to take the game up to the next level with some integration between the clues and the game, but in all honesty, it’s a really minor thing.
My Dearest Emily is easily my favourite of the online offerings from The Panic Room. With a lovely story, a bit of history, trickier puzzles, and some beautiful illustrations, what’s not to love?
- Device with internet connection (desktop/laptop running Chrome, Firefox or Edge provides best experience)
- Pen and paper for note taking (optional)
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 68 mins
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.