How Much Hate Can You Fit Into Four Hours?
Analogue: A Hate Story
One lazy evening, I decided to boot up my Steam copy of the visual novel Analogue: A Hate Story. It's a visual novel, so I could just watch the story unfold and be done with it, right? Well, that's partially true, but the story that I watched was not only intriguing, but one that'll stick with me as a well-presented and emotional tale.
To summarize, Analogue is the story of the space craft Mugunghwa, of more specifically, what happened after it lost contact with Earth. When you discover the ship, any sign of human life is long gone, and an AI greets you instead. After a bit of an intro, you can start accessing files and reading letters and correspondence from the now deceased crew members. The game, and the AI *Hyun-ae are quick to show you that something was... off about the lifestyle of those on the lost Mugungwa; culture had seemingly reverted to a time akin to medieval society, and any information from before that time was conveniently erased. You, the player, slowly uncover more about the secrets of the Mugungwa, and they aren't exactly happy...
Analogue does a great job of presenting a story in a unique way. Reading letters gives the story a very personal feel without forcing your character to the center of events, and the question of "what happened?" will keep you playing until the end. In addition, the two AIs, *Hyun-ae and *Mute, have very different personalities and give contrasting views on the events that occurred, providing an extra level of emotional touch, despite them only being computer programs. It's really impressive how the developers managed to make a story this powerful in such a fresh matter. We all know that medieval style societies were far from the greatest, but having the story in such an unusual setting and it spoon-fed through letters provides a unique touch to keep the player clicking.
That said, I feel the companionship that the game forces upon you with the AIs to be a bit out of whack. The game is quite short, a first playthrough taking only an hour or two, but any good end has the AI of your choice practically begging you to take them with you. It's implied that the game is played in real time, so why the sudden affection towards the character? It feels like it was tacked on, so that the developers could appease the crowd that is used to having their visual novels with 'love' options. It's a small thing, but it can be a bit odd when you go down one of the paths...
Seeing everything that Analogue has to offer would take about four or five hours, including getting the 'harem ending', as the game calls it. Despite this, however, it's well worth the ten dollars asked for, and it's even better if you catch the game on a Steam sale. If you like visual novels, or great stories, Analogue is worth a try.