Developer: Love Conquers All Games
Publisher: Love Conquers All Games
Price: $9.99 USD
Release Date: April 27th, 2012
Analogue is a half-visual-novel, half-command-prompt investigation game. The plot is centered around a Generation Starship named The Mugunghwa, a Korean venture into space, with the goal is establishing a colony at a near-by star system. The ship lost contact and never arrived at its destination. More than a thousand years later, the starship has been found, and the game’s protagonist is tasked with investigating what happened to the ship.
The Mugunghwa was a ship with hundreds, or perhaps thousands of individuals. Those people were tasked with settling a colony after a journey of hundreds of years. There is no direct evidence of what might have happened to the population.
Upon connecting to the ship, you meet the Mugunghwa’s support Artificial Intelligence Programs, *Hyun-ae and *Mute. They’ve been all alone, cut off from contact with any humans for over 600 years. Their task is to aid you in your investigation, and they do this by showing you logs written by the ship’s inhabitants.
As you read logs and letters left behind by the people who once lived in this Starship, you begin to uncover details regarding their society, and the ties between the individuals that were key in the developments leading to the ship’s demise.
Analogue: A Hate Story is a 100% story driven game. The game’s most prominent themes are the political and family relations between the Mugunghwa’s two most influential noble families, as well as the unfair treatment that their society had reserved for women.
Analogue’s gameplay mostly consists of reading, rereading, interpreting, and discussing several letters and logs left behind by the crew.
At first, *Hyun-ae will only releases a handful of logs. As you read through the files, she will occasionally interrupt you in order to chat. She’s been sitting here all alone for over 6 centuries, after all.
In order to unlock more files, you must point out to the current enabled AI that you’d like more about this subject. Whenever you want to read more about a certain event or character, you may show the file to the AI and see if she has any more information regarding that individual, or the story.
If there is more on the subject, the AI will then release more files for your enjoyment, which in turn will lead to more questions and more files.
The other aspect to Analogue’s gameplay is the command prompt:
You are required to input commands at several points during gameplay, for reasons that range from decrypting files, changing the current AI’s appearance, and even saving the colony from a nuclear meltdown. This gameplay element felt quite interesting and fresh since I had never played a game that required command inputs. Early computer games from the ’70s and ’80s heavily employed this method, specially for adventure exploration games.
The result from combining Visual Novel elements with a classic Command Prompt interface resulted in a is very unique design. The game’s progression and challenges offer an experience unlike anything else.
There is no voice acting, and no sound effects outside button clicking sounds. The game relies entirely on its background music in order to set the game’s ambience. Fortunately, Analogue’s musical score managed to succeed in its simplicity, delivering a very memorable soundtrack that makes the game’s intensive reading a little easier to handle.
Both the available AIs, *Hyun-ae and *Mute, have their own musical themes, remixed depending on the mood of the situation. The two noble families also have their own themes.
Overall, Analogue’s music isn’t outstanding, mostly because it doesn’t have to be. The tracks correctly set the mood for whichever story you’re currently reading, and that’s all that matters in this game.
The game has no graphics outside of *Hyun-ae’s and *Mute’s sprites. Both characters were very nicely drawn, and have a decent range of expressions. The game also includes concept art, unlocked as you finish the game.
Analogue: A Hate Story is much closer to an ancient Command Prompt Games, than it is to Visual Novels. There is a lot to read, the meanings and lessons drawn from the several short stories are sometimes difficult to understand and interpret, and often require rereading. Sometimes more than twice. Sometimes more than thrice.
This particular design makes it a great story, capable of tickling the player’s curiosity, ushering them to uncover the rest of the plot. It also presents itself as an obstacle, often times confusing the player with details that sometimes aren’t so important.
Another difficult aspect of the game were the names. All the inhabitants of the Mugunghwa were Korean, with traditional Korean names. The unusual names often confused me, mostly because I had a hard time remembering who was who in the story. In particular, the three Smith brothers, Sang-min, Sang-kyu, and Sang-jung were the ones who confused me the most.
A unique game, with an unconventional mix of play-styles, that worked really, really well. The plot you unravel during the game is more than interesting enough to compel you to continue playing the game, with help from the music and the interaction between the protagonist and the Artificial Intelligence girls.
Some of the mysteries aren’t explained by the end of the game, though those secrets are the main themes addressed by the sequel.
More than anything, Analogue: A Hate Story is a tale about the women who lived abased lives inside the Mugunghwa. The society aboard the Starship was heavily male-dominated, which was the cause of much of the game’s plot and subplot, also heavily reflecting on your interaction with the AIs, particularly *Mute.
While the game takes a neutral instance, not particularly offering any insights on the subject, it’s quite obvious that this was the type of story the authors intended to tell with this game. Many of the game’s choices hinge on the player’s particular discretion on the matter, and the AIs will form different opinions of the player character depending on your answers. For instance, if you tell *Mute that you are a single woman over 18 years of age and still single, she will treat you with a certain level of contempt.
If you have an interest on the subject, it’s worth giving this game a try.
– Unique gameplay
– Interesting story and themes
– Explores social themes
– Well written character interaction
– Some replay value in order to get all the files and endings
– Korean names can become confusing
– Might be difficult for players which aren’t familiarized with text games
The Reviewer has given this game a Final Grade of 7/10.