I have faint memories of .hack//G.U. Eleven years ago, I played the first volume, Rebirth, and spent a few weeks engrossed in the series’ fictional online game, The World. Even back then, I don’t think .hack blew me away with its gameplay or storytelling. It was the concept of a shared, persistent experience that stood out. The World, at least as a setting, was alluring because it seemed like anything could happen within its simulated, digital spaces.
A decade removed, Rebirth feels like a ghost. I haven’t thought of the series in years. Real, massively multiplayer games have pushed The World’s vision of an online experience by the wayside. But even digital ghosts can come back to haunt you, and with the release of Last Recode, I found myself logging into a fictional game once more.