Analogue: A Hate Story

I used to be a gamer who was proud of having a small library of steam games that I actually played. Over the last year though, I’ve become one of those people, frivolously partaking in every sale and buying way more games than I have time to play them. As I’ve just reached 49% unplayed games in my library, I decided I needed to do something about it. Clearly the answer is to play more games. Inspired by Dahakha’s Steam Challenge, I’m going to try to work my way through the unplayed games in my library.

Steam library

I’ve also got about 30 games in a Finished category, and about a dozen in a Go Away category of games I’m not interested in. Does it drive anyone else crazy that you can’t delete DOTA from your library when you never wanted it in the first place?

Anyway, I thought I’d start at the top so the first game I played, when I could drag myself away from Dragon Age, was Analogue: A Hate Story. Analogue is a visual novel with a lot of choose-your-own-adventure aspects and a touch of dating sim, maybe. In the game, you are investigating a generation ship that disappeared 600 years ago and has just been found. You’re tasked with finding out what happened by reading through the ship’s logs. The ship has two AI which can help you with your mission, though they aren’t particularly reliable narrators.

Gameplay mainly consists of reading through the ship’s logs and asking the AI about them, who may then open up new logs for you. The main interface for accessing the logs is slick, attractive, and very easy to use. There is also a Linux console interface which you use to perform certain actions on the ship, such as enabling or disabling the AI, or downloading the log files. As someone who has never used Linux I found this interface a bit puzzling at first. It’s the first thing you see when the game starts and it took me a few minutes to figure out what it was expecting me to do.

The most exceptional part of the game is the writing. The logs, written as diary entries are enthralling. There are multiple authors and each one has a clear and distinct voice. They paint a picture of a spacefaring society that has somehow regressed into a medieval patriarchy. You don’t get access to all the entries though, and often get things out of order, so you need to piece together the story for yourself. Depending on which AI you have active, you may learn some parts of the story but not others. It’s quite well done.

Analogue: A Hate Story - conversation with Hyun-ae

As for the interaction with the AI though… ehh. One AI is a giggly, cosplay-loving schoolgirl. The other is a casually misogynist and homophobic security program.  If I had known nothing about the creator of this game, Christine Love, I likely would have written the game off as sexist drivel and quit before I got too far in. However, I assumed that there was probably going to be a bigger point or message to the game, so I continued.

Analogue made me feel a number of the same things that To the Moon did, though not as strongly. The overall story and writing is great, but the two characters that are around to comment on everything just bugged the hell out of me. I think that was part of the point, but I don’t really play games to be annoyed. Based on interests and gaming preferences, I don’t think I’m quite the target demographic for this game.

I haven’t played a ton of visual novels before, the most similar experience I’ve had to this was Long Live the Queen. An aspect of the genre I find hard to reconcile is that I want to see multiple endings, but the process of replaying and trying new things to get to those endings is exceedingly tedious. Careful use of saves can reduce the amount of repetition, but it’s hard to know exactly when the important branches take place and I find myself mindlessly clicking through things I’ve already read/seen way more than is enjoyable.

Verdict: Recommended for those who like the genre. The writing is strong and the story is compelling. While I personally don’t enjoy the repetitiveness required to experience all of the endings, I think this game will appeal to fans of visual novels.

7 responses to “Analogue: A Hate Story

  1. Ha! Those steam sales can sting! I don’t know if I will ever get through my steam list. I am trying not to buy ANYTHING new right now and get through old games. (even WoD and DA:I)

    That is a carrot on a stick!
    Isey recently posted..I Am Pavlov’s Dog

    • I was doing so well (actually, I was just buying console games instead of PC games), and then the winter sale came along. I bought 5 new Steam games, which was actually showing some restraint.

  2. Congrats on getting started clearing the backlog, haha. You have a lot of cool games on your list! I can’t wait to see your impressions of System Shock 2, that is one of my favourite games! That, Half-Life, and Unreal were the golden trifecta of FPS at the turn of the millennium for me. I hope SS2 has aged well enough for you.

    WARNING – ANALOGUE: AHS SPOILERS AHEAD!!

    I am glad you got to play this! I definitely see your annoyance with the AI, they did make me a little uncomfortable at first. *Hyun-ae really does push the dating sim aspect of the experience, which was super awkward – though props to the writer for keeping her sexuality open. I came to feel sorry for her as the story progressed. It was really uncomfortable to have a young girl, barely into her teens, crushing on you so hard, and using the costuming to try and push those buttons made me feel quite uneasy – I ended up keeping her in the lab coat outfit because of that. But when you find out what happened, and realise that she is terribly lonely and emotionally scarred…I thought I could understand the motivations behind that behaviour. Even though it was unwelcome.

    *Mute was written well, I thought, although I didn’t really buy the change of heart at the end of one of the storylines (the “harem” ending, maybe?). Her personality was consistent with someone who’d “grown” up with that hugely patriarchal society, but didn’t experience the atrocities of it personally as a real woman. But yeah, she was mostly what I meant when I said in my post that women would probably be rather pissed off by this game in some ways.

    I don’t know whether the developer had anything to do with the Steam achievement names, but I found those more offensive and uncomfortable than anything in the game itself. “Mai Waifu”, “Friendzone”, and “2 Girls, 1 Core”? Seriously? Even calling it a “harem ending” is pretty bad. It pushes the idea of it being a dating sim, whereas I don’t think that was the intention of the game at all, even though the *Hyun-ae endings do echo that genre.

    Anyway, I loved it, more for the story and presentation than the mechanics, and I’m definitely going to get the sequel sometime. I gather from this review that you will probably give Hate Plus a miss?
    Dahakha recently posted..Raiding Is Too Greedy

    • I’m looking forward to System Shock, that’s been on my want-to-play list forever.

      I’m so conflicted about Analogue, that I kinda feel that I didn’t really get it. The AI characters, the achievements, the endings, could all easily be read as very sexist, but I’m sure than wasn’t the author’s intent. I guess part of the point of the game was to make players think about these issues, but I felt like there should have been a more overt message or point at the end maybe?

      I’m not sure about Hate Plus, I might pick it up on sale at some point down the line.

      • To me it was a story of loneliness and oppression, part of the point being to empathise with a young girl being thrust into an incredibly primitive and backward society compared to what she left behind, and part of it to learn how horrifying this kind of society was – and that it was real, it actually existed in history. But you’re right, it does get confusing in certain ways, due to how some elements are handled. I suspect a lot of the difference in our experiences is due to our gender difference. I just found it to be a massive lesson on how shitty women have been treated in (Korean) history, and I think that was part of the intention of the developer. For you, it might be less shocking and more “I don’t really need to see this, I am aware of these issues already”? Idk.

        On the other hand, it could just be that I have a greater tolerance for irritating characters than you. 😛 I suspect that I’ll enjoy To The Moon a lot more than you did – I doubt the doctors will annoy me as much.
        Dahakha recently posted..Raiding Is Too Greedy

  3. Yay! Another joining us for the Steam challenge! I keep trying to pick up my challenge on and off through out the year, too. I haven’t been super successful, though, thanks to games that keep stealing the spotlight. But I have attempted some games I never probably would otherwise.

    Due to your review, I might put Analogue on the “after I’m done with most my challenge” list. It sounds interesting, but I have so many other titles to play first!
    Aywren recently posted..Newcomer to WoW: Day 5

    • I really don’t want to reach the 50% threshold for games unplayed, which is what started me on this. Hopefully I can play through a good number before the next sale!

      For Analogue, I think it really depends on how you feel about visual novels. I think it’s worth a playthrough, though maybe not playing through to see all the different endings. I was planning to go through my Steam list alphabetically, but the next is another visual novel and I need a break from those, so I might start jumping around.