While most of the time I’m perplexed by a game of sudoku made to look like a futuristic military shooter, I got a completely different kind of bait-and-switch in Analogue: A Hate Story.
Analogue is a visual novel complete with pretty anime girls that you are meant to woo. According to Steam, it’s “A dark visual mystery novel featuring transhumanism, traditional marriage, loneliness, and cosplay.” Armed with this information, I was expecting the standard, eye-rolling visual novel stereotype and let it languish on my hard drive, unplayed and mostly forgotten. When I finally summoned the energy to play through a cute-maid-robot-romance-cheesefest, I instead got something far more engaging.
The game begins with a mission: an abandoned space station that was lost for centuries, and it’s up to you to find out why it disappeared, and what happened to all of the crew and passengers on board. At this point, my interest in the game did a complete 180°:
why didn’t anyone tell me this was actually Star Trek?!
You are then put in contact with the ship’s artificial intelligence, who happens to be the adorable young girl in the uniform seen in the promotional pictures. Your contact with her is surprisingly limited, though; most of the time you’re reading through the personal emails sent on the doomed ship in order to piece together the mystery.
There’s a bit of a slow start as you read through the ship’s archives; at first, it is nearly incomprehensible with a large cast of characters, lengthy emails, and a uniquely Korean setting. However, it’s worth trudging through, as it starts to make sense once you uncover more pieces of data and ask the ship’s AI questions. You also uncover another AI on the ship: one that has a completely different view on what happened to everyone.
As a big fan of snoop-on-personal-emails gameplay, moral choices, and fantastic fake computer interfaces as seen in the writer’s earlier game, Digital, I’d like to think that Analogue: A Hate Story totally undersells itself in its super-lame promotional material. Then again, I’m not sure how anyone could promote it without spoiling its strange story outright. Um...slap a few angry soldiers with guns on the cover and call it a day? Sounds about right.
Playing anime girl dress-up with no shame,
The Dungeon Dame
The Dungeon Dame