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I came to this game imagining it would be a clever take on the Turing Test, a scenario designed to see if a machine can pass for a human intelligence. Instead, I explored the possible outcomes of trying to treat mental health problems at scale.
Eliza makes an effort to say that working on yourself counts as working on the world in the grand scheme of things. In real life, I am inclined to agree. In this game, where Evelyn’s choices can lead to an ending where she uses her massive intellect to fundamentally change how society works, I am not so sure that focusing on her grief is the most useful thing to do.
Zachtronics make a detour from its puzzle game destiny with the visual novel Eliza. It's slick in its design, though shy on the big choices you might expect from most visual novels. Still, packed with a stellar solitaire minigame, impressive voice acting, and one of the most prescient narratives I've seen in games, if you're a fan at all of interactive stories that'll have you gripped from start to finish, Eliza is it.
I came out of Eliza with the sense that I'd been on a journey of juggling grief, hope, and joy through the existential dread that is living a modern, tech-filled life. And for that reason, I recommend this visual novel as a must-play experience.
This is a beautiful game not just about trying to help people, but about the desire to help people.
Eliza is a poignant, well-presented tale about how even technology created to help people can be harmful when it replaces human connection. Rather than demonizing technology, though, Eliza is a paean to compassion, communication, and all the varied ways people can lift each other up.
Better options exist, but few have tackled such a fascinating premise and philosophical queries.
Expect to spend about five hours playing through the story of Eliza, assuming that the solitaire minigame doesn’t end up becoming much of a distraction.
Ultimately, Eliza is a fantastic experience. It dives deep into subjects which aren’t often talked about openly, and does so with expert attention to detail. It is a biting commentary on our reliance on technology in the modern world, and does not use kid gloves while doing so. Along with technology, it is a wonderfully executed think piece on mental health, and what it is like for everyday people to be afflicted by mental illness.
A truly intelligent game with an engaging story and a really clever way of telling it that enhances its deep message.
Review in Spanish | Read full review