Eliza is a visual novel set in the Seattle tech scene focusing on the AI counseling app Eliza and one of its creators, Evelyn. Mental health meets technology in this story and we play as Evelyn to help her decide what is right and wrong, and what is best for her.
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In Eliza, you play as Evelyn who becomes a proxy for the AI mental health service Eliza after spending three years away from the world. She was actually one of the original engineers on the project, so her return to the program as a proxy leads to some interesting opportunities and people. Evelyn’s main desire is to figure out where she wants her life to go after tragedy, and we as the player help steer that ship.
The premise of Eliza itself is that it is an AI counselor that is programmed to listen to clients and provide recommendations for their issues. The job of a proxy is to purely be the script reader for Eliza, acting as a liaison between the program and the client. Proxies don’t give their own advice, they simply read what Eliza tells them to.
Evelyn returning to the program she helped create as a proxy does not go unnoticed by her former boss, Rainer, her former colleague Nora, or the psychologist behind Eliza, Soren. Each have their own thoughts on what Evelyn should do now that she has returned to the world from self-induced sabbatical. Rainer wants Evelyn to return to Eliza as an engineer, Nora wants Evelyn to rebel against their former scene, and Soren wants her to join his new therapy app company.
Evelyn also meets new people during this time that can influence her decisions. Rae, the woman running the center that Evelyn is a proxy at, and Erlend, the newest lead engineer on Eliza, both have their own impact on this journey Evelyn is one.
The story is a fascinating take on the moral side of AI technology and mental health. The characters embody all sides of the argument for and against the combination, as well as the nuanced beliefs in between. All of the conversations you have and choices you make throughout the story lead you to the conclusion of making the choice for Evelyn of what she should do. Should she go back to Eliza as an engineer? Should she become an artist with Nora? Should she join Soren on his new project? Should she do none of those? You get to choose in the end based on what you learn and see, and it is very interesting.
I will say it took me quite a while to finish this game, because I would either get overwhelmed at the moral focus of the story or I would want to play something else. It is a very thought-provoking game versus one you would want to play to escape the world for a while. I don’t consider this a negative, because it is an excellent story and game overall, but it is definitely one that requires a certain mindset when going into it.
The voice acting in this game is incredible. Every character, from the main ones to the clients Evelyn has, all have unique voices that really create a personality and the acting for them all is top-notch. I was nothing but impressed with the voice acting.
The only thing I noticed that was a little off for me was a story discrepancy. Without spoiling it because it happened because of my final decision for Evelyn, something occurred prior to my choice and then after my choice it reverted the previous event without explanation. It is a very small thing overall because it does not have a huge impact to the story and does not ruin the game at all. But it was something I definitely noticed and questioned with my ending for the game.
Overall, I was happily surprised with Eliza. It is a thought-provoking story with excellent voice acting and is worth a play if you enjoy the topics of mental health and technology.
Have you played a game that really made you think afterward? Share it with a comment below!