The year is 2003. MySpace has just made its debut, its creator Tom not yet knowing the terrible seeds of destruction he has sown. Of course, social media isn’t the sole contributor to society’s downfall; some good has come from it. One of those good things comes from Kinmoku Games and is the story of Emmett and the inspiration and friends he made online.
Set in Germany, 15-year-old Emmett is an avid fan of video games and the Kinmoku Shark console. Alongside the console, the dedicated social media site Videoverse is where Emmett spends much of his free time. The site also features communities dedicated to specific games and the usual social media feeds, likes, and comments. Emmett has a few good friends on Videoverse, most notably his friend Markus whom he met at a games convention the year previously.
A budding artist, Emmett is hesitant to post his art online after receiving less than kind comments from trolls in the past. Lately, he has begun playing the newest hit game Feudal Fantasy and has been drawing fan art based on it. Markus invites him to the dedicated community on Videoverse for the game and persuades him to start posting his art again.
Videoverse Is Like A Time Capsule Back To Early 2000s Internet
This is when the core of the story begins. The game is about interacting with Videoverse and the people on there and trying to make it a happier place for everyone. To do this, Emmett takes on various tasks and writes them down in the notebook on his desk. Almost everything happens within the pages of Videoverse but is interspersed with static, drawn cutscenes that lead into and out of Emmett’s time on the website.
In order to progress, you have to interact with posts and people. This means liking peoples’ drawings, posting comments, and, most importantly, reporting trolls. Some specific trolls are truly vile, leaving homophobic, violent, and racist comments on posts and attacking others on the site. When you encounter one of these posts, you report it, note the username and keep an eye on their posts from there on out.
The problem with this is that the Videoverse moderators aren’t exactly on top of things. The site has a smiley rating system on your home page. The health of the community is rated from Sad Face to Grinning Face. Hovering over the rating will tell you basically how hostile or pleasant the community is. The only way to improve it is to report users.
Alongside trying to improve the online world, Emmett meets a new user named Vivi. Vivi is a fellow artist that he looks up to because of their talent. Emmett strikes up a friendship with the enigmatic new user by reporting trolls and encouraging Vivi to continue with their art.
Videoverse Is A Game About Coming To Terms With Getting Older And Moving On
Just as Emmett makes a new friend and begins his efforts to make Videoverse a safer space for everyone, Kinmoku announces that with the release of their newest console Dolphin, Videoverse will be coming to an end. The Dolphin will also have its own online community, but it will only be available through paying a subscription fee.
With time running out for Videoverse, Emmett ups his efforts to make it a better place, even if the mods are leaving in droves. He also deepens his relationship with Vivi. It’s important that you think about your choices and what you say to others. Performing tasks and cleaning up the community will increase Emmetts’ compassion along with other stats that will unlock more dialog options with people, meaning you can find out more and help more.
Other little touches are the ability to unlock different Videoverse themes, which come from making posts, liking posts, and reporting trolls. Eventually, you will need to solve riddles from a user, make note of game tips for Feudal Fantasy and even write down words of wisdom you see on the site.
Videoverse is a journey of self-discovery. 15 is when you really realize that school is over soon, and suddenly life is barreling at you. Of course, when you’re older, you realize 15 is an infinitesimal age and that you will, in fact, nearly be 40 and have absolutely no idea what you are doing still. Watching a teenager deal with the potential loss of a major support system and trying to plan out his entire future is bittersweet. We’ve all been there. Everyone makes plans or is forced into making a plan for the future at an impossibly early age, and retrospect allows you to see how utterly ridiculous that is.
Is Videoverse a perfect game? No. It’s a little clunky in places, the conversations you have with people when you chat are a little stilted, and sometimes you think you have done everything you can do, but Emmett still won’t log off of the site, and you have to go back through every community and post to see what you may have missed. On a personal note, some of the themes you can set for the site are pure eye agony, but there are enough of them that aren’t that people should have enough options for a pleasant playthrough.
Overall it’s an interesting dive into a clearly personal journey. If you were online back in 2003, it’s a very accurate depiction of early social media. The characters are likable, the trolls are reprehensible, and the story rides the line between bittersweet and twee well.
Videoverse is out now on PC