The full game is available for purchase here (there’s also a free demo): http://ahatestory.com/
Click here for my review of Hate Plus, the sequel.
In anticipation of the upcoming sequel, titled Hate Plus, I felt it was timely to get you a bit more acquainted with its predecessor, Analogue: A Hate Story. Although I’m not *too* well-versed in the world of western visual novels, this has to be my favorite one so far – a definite step up from Christine Love’s previous games “Digital: A Love Story” and “Don’t take it personally, babe”, both of which I had very lukewarm reactions to.
The story of Analogue is set in the future, with you, the protagonist, sent to the Korean spaceship Mugunghwa in order to dig through its text logs and find out just what caused its downfall -namely, the death of everyone on board- six centuries prior. As such, the majority of the game will consist of basically reading through large amounts of text by accessing said logs and gaining new morsels of information with every new message you uncover. This approach to telling the story works out very well, giving the narrative a genuine “investigation” feel, inviting players to piece things together based on what they find.
Your companions during the adventure will be *Hyun-ae and *Mute, two of the Mugunghwa’s AIs, who, via their various comments on the logs you find, will help you get two vastly different viewpoints on the events that transpired on the ship, depending on which one of the two you’re willing to listen to. While I don’t want to give away everything, I can tell you that one of the central figures of the story is a teenage girl, who, after decades and decades of stasis-sleep (she had an incurable condition and was put to sleep until a cure could be found), finally wakes up, only to be greeted by a deeply misogynistic world: a society practically medieval in its mindset, based on the patriarchal Joseon Dynasty – “men are honored, women are abased”, as their motto states.
One of the central points of the plot is therefore to witness her cope with the alien and often very cruel customs of her new environment. You will come to know the various residents of the ship, have a glimpse into their darkest secrets, all while receiving a very personal view on things from the diary entries of aforementioned girl as well as certain inhabitants of the ship, peppered with biased comments from your two AI companions. Some revelations will surprise you, others might outright shock you. In a way, Analgoue is a futuristic horror story without any monsters.
Of course, things wouldn’t be as interesting if you had access to all the logs right from the start – you’d be able to see what killed everyone in 5 minutes and be on your way. Initially, you only have access to a couple of logs, and more will become available as you progress, making you unravel the mystery of the Mugunghwa, one layer at a time. The more you learn about this interstellar dystopia, the less you will be able to stop looking for journal entry after journal entry. Despite its minimalistic visual presentation, Analgoue is an immersive nightmare that grabs you from the start and never lets go.
As stated before, the logs also give you deep insight into the personalities and motivations of the Mugunghwa’s major figures, allowing you to have a look inside their skulls via their personal diaries, slowly and gradually leading up to whatever it was that led to the ship’s apparent demise. The build-up is well crafted, and the payoff shocking, appalling and eye-opening at the same time. It is a highly disturbing finale that will no doubt upset the more sensitive, yet still a fitting, bittersweet conclusion to a game tackling such controversial issues. In the end, however, you’re very much encouraged to draw your own conclusions.
While it might not blow you away, Analogue was nonetheless a poignant and thought-provoking tale that stayed with me even a whole year after I first completed it. Given the subject matter and the VN format, it’s probably not for everyone. However, it is most definitely a story worth experiencing for anyone open to a quick (5-6 hours) exploration into a twisted world dealing with, but not limited to sex, alienation, gender equality and human rights. Or, as the creator herself would phrase it, “transhumanism, traditional marriage, loneliness and cosplay.” Whichever definition you prefer, Analogue remains a genuinely frightening, yet fascinating tale that no VN fan should pass up on.