Analogue: A Hate Story (released Feb. 2012) takes the best parts of Digital: A Love Story and don’t take it personally… and makes them even better. In terms of presentation, this is definitely Christine Love‘s best work. The animation, the music (by Isaac Schankler), the coding, the art (by Raide) and the storytelling are all top-notch. This is a visual novel that’s more than deserving of its groundbreaking Steam release.
You play as someone (in that “you” sense that Digital had) investigating the mystery behind the Mugunghwa, an empty ship that was found adrift in space. With help from two AIs (but only one at a time), you will read the former inhabitant’s message logs and discover the reason why they never reached their destination. It’s a brilliant story full of intrigue, heartbreak, and societal change. It’s hard for me not to spoil anything. I’ll say this, however: Analogue is a conversation starter in the best way possible. It turned out to be better than I expected it would be.
Let me talk about the music before I go on. It’s gorgeous. “Gorgeous” might be a strange word to use when describing sound, but it’s true. It’s electronic with great bass. It fits perfectly for the story’s mood and science fiction setting. After my first play-through, I literally opened the game up to listen to the game’s main track on repeat as I worked on an assignment. It’s that good. The soundtrack’s well worth the purchase.
The story had all kinds of twists from left and right. I don’t think I’ve ever written “whoa” so many times in my reviewing notes for a game. Seriously, the word “amazing” doesn’t do Analogue justice. I have to warn everyone, however, that it’s not for everyone. It requires a lot of reading and keeping track of who’s who in a large (but dead) cast of characters. The game has a glossary and family tree to help keep track of things, but I suggest making small notes as you go along, especially since some of their names are so similar.
It’s like an interactive mystery story with a dark, sci-fi edge. You can even dress *Hyun-ae up as a detective when you get far enough in the visual novel. Raide’s art in this is a delight. By the end of the story, you find out that its setting is a reflection of an actual Korean dynasty. I’ll let players find out which one. The treatment of the whole thing was haunting, and each character was a piece in Analogue’s powerful puzzle.
Christine Love is writing inside of a new territory, in a place where few other indie visual novel makers have gone before. She doesn’t write about these issues on a surface level, and then put them aside without doing some heavy exploration on them. As you read Analogue, you’ll discover layers and layers of details. You’ll think one thing, learn something new, and think something else. As I wrote before, the “whoa” moments are plenty in this one.
Analogue: A Hate Story is available for $10 from Steam here or its official website here. The OST is available for purchase here for $5. You can also get the OST and game as a package deal for $12.99 on Steam. If you liked Analogue: A Hate Story, check out the creator’s other works Digital and DTIPB. And don’t forget: namjon yeobi. “Men are honoured, women are abased.”