When we were first asked to review Analogue: A Hate Story by an Atomican on our marvellous Facebook page (seen here), we got in contact with the dev, Christine Love, and set out to take a look. What we found was genuinely surprising; both from our lack of knowledge of the genre, and the extent to which we enjoyed it.
Analogue is effectively an interactive visual novel, taking place at an unknown time in humanity's distant future. Korean colony ship Mugunghwa left Earth for reasons unknown – simple exploration and expansion is assumed – hoping to establish Saeju Colony on some planet. Unfortunately for its crew, the destination was quite far, and generations along the way lost their knowledge of the very technology that surrounded them. So, too, did they lose the basic essence that made them Korean, their ability to read and write the language – though they adopted Chinese as a replacement.
The problem is, Mugunghwa never reached its destination, and had instead been limping around Antares B for centuries. A rich client from the outer colonies decided they wanted to know why, and enlisted us – a plucky private space investigator – to find out what had happened. Thanks to the invention of FTL flight we caught up pretty quickly, but in a unique twist, we never actually step aboard the Mugunghwa.
Instead, all communication is done wirelessly – at first through a Unix-inspired terminal, and then through a GUI that the ship's resident AI whipped up. It – or rather, she – introduces her name, *Hyun-ae. The star denotes she's an AI, and the centuries on the ship have driven her a little bonkers. Wonder why? Well, there's no-one left alive to talk to.
And yes, we realise that it's very similar to Holly from Red Dwarf.
Anyway, *Hyun-ae brings up text logs to our request, which each fill in a tiny portion of the overall story. They range from diary entries to formal letters, and describe a somewhat feudal society in which men hold a lot of power and women are subjugated, neither supposed to read nor write. We can show each log to *Hyun-ae for her thoughts, and in many cases this results in the discovery of additional, related logs.
Eventually we dig up the superuser (or su) password, and are given free reign over the ship's functions. Turns out there's another AI core available that contains a disabled AI known as *Mute – we flip the switch, and that's where things got really interesting.
Analogue manages to be truly novel by merging terminal and prose, giving a real sense of discovering the fate of the Mungunghwa as an outsider, and though the pacing is pedestrian, a notable period of excitement strikes as the interface screen fills with static – though we won't spoil the cause.
Though the game can be completed in under an hour by technically fulfilling the case requirements and downloading the log information, there are four other endings that can only be reached through careful selection of responses to questions that both AI cores will ask. Figuring out these endings grants access to concept artwork that, for once, isn't available online, so it's very rewarding to follow each path to its end. We'd recommend saving often, and there are lots of save slots, so feel free to experiment with terminal and conversation options.
Our first playthrough took just over two and a half hours, and though the asking price of $10 may seem high, total playtime will be more like 5 hours once we've gotten all the endings. It's uncommon for a game to evoke a genuine emotional response, but Analogue managed to eke one out of us as we played – and it's almost guaranteed to make you feel at least a little conflicted when it comes to making choices.
In all Analogue is a fascinating example of a text-heavy game, and is well worth investigating for those who find the characters and setting interesting.
||Most of the time you’ll be reading, but it’s quite engaging.
||Low-resolution with limited animation, but endearing.
||Interesting and unique soundtrack.
||A quirky title from a small dev that we think you’ll enjoy.
Analogue: A Hate Story main page
Analogue: A Hate Story on Steam