Analogue: A Hate Story Review

Yes you'll be doing a lot of that in this game.

  • Developer: Christine Love
  • Publisher: Christine Love
  • Release Date:27 April 2012

I've been interested in getting back into game development again so naturally I checked what tools and authorware was available (I used to dabble quite a bit with Adventure Game Studio, if anyone is curious). Ren'Py a Japanese-style Visual Novel engine seemed like a good starting point to me as it requires minimal coding for story-driven games and even allows you to port games onto mobile devices. I soon discovered that there were a combination of commercial and critical successes out there, all made with Ren'Py. I decided to take a closer look at some of these and one of the major players is Christine Love. When Analogue: A Hate Story (ZOMG I just realised the title is a joke as one of her earlier games is Digital: A Love Story – get it?) was on sale on Steam for a matter of dollars, I just had to try the game out for myself.

Occasionally you'll answer some yes/no questions

Plot (4/5)
The game is set in the distant future and places you in the role of an investigator discovering what happened to a Korean generation ship that has mysteriously appeared in local space. Your job is to access the ship's computer and download any relevant information. Along the way you will encounter the ship's AIs (there are two of them) who aid you in recovering the data in the form of logs or emails.

While I like the science-fiction setting and the mystery surrounding the generation ship, it's sometimes hard to take the game seriously with the cutesy anime style and childish talk from the AIs. I know this is actually typical for a majority of Japanese visual novels (even though this is technically Korean) but it's also something that puts me off playing these games, even if the plot is pretty good (as is the case).

Gameplay (3/5)
The gameplay is okay as far as visual novels or interactive fiction goes. I'm used to playing visual novels with more focus on visuals, conversations and puzzle-solving (such as the old Legend Entertainment games), so this one is a bit different in that there is a larger focus on reading emails, which is pretty much what this game is all about: reading emails. Having the AIs to converse with and ask of your opinions however turns what is normally a chore into a game (as the AIs do remember what you say!).

Also there is the challenge for the completionists amongst us to decrypt every single log (which I believe is the point of the game). I actually managed to get lost in the reading of emails and forgot the whole reason I was on the ship in the first place. I vaguely recalled something about downloading the logs which is what I ended up doing – however this triggered the premature ending of the game, resulting in what I believe was the “bad” ending. Maybe a checklist or a plea from the AIs would've been in order to prevent dunces like myself inadvertently finishing the game too early!

Besides the GUI with avatars you get to play with this old-school console

Sound (5/5)
No problems with the minimal audio that is used.

Music (4/5)
The music in the game is a subdued, ambient affair but it complements the game nicely.

Graphics (3/5)
Graphics are minimal, consisting only of the AI avatars, the Graphical User Interface (GUI) and the console. However these elements are drawn and animated well so while there's not much to see, what you do see looks great.

Replay (3/5)
Visual novels/interactive fiction can vary greatly in terms of replay. Analogue: A Hate Story tends to be one of the better ones where you are able to achieve different endings depending on how your responses and how thorough you are. The game even has Steam achievements (another carrot for the completionists out there).

However, if like me you inadvertently ended the game early, you have to trawl through a lot of reading to alter the ending or unlock an achievement (since I believe some are dependent on the choices you make).

Polish (5/5)
No bugs and the interface is intentionally clunky since it's simulating a console (and the fact the AI can only ask yes/no questions)

This pretty much sums up the whole plot.

Score – 7/10

Analogue: A Hate Story definitely has one of the most unique settings to be explored in a game; not many games have you playing an investigator of the future, visiting an abandoned generation spaceship, and learning about the patriarchal society of Medieval Korea. While the plot is well written, you will be reading a lot about scandals and romantic affairs, which will have you wondering: am I reading a romance novel or playing a computer game? Maybe it's a bit of both? If that thought bothers you, you may want to give this a miss – otherwise, considering how cheap it is, it's worth a look. Maybe you'll enjoy it.

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam.

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