The realm of visual novels is one that is only recently really gaining popularity in the west and Analogue: A Hate Story is one of the few visual novels that started to spring board the genre into its more mainstream popularity with its inclusion on the gaming service Steam. Its a tale of transhumanism, traditional marriage, loneliness and cosplay, a story that can end leaving the player with a feeling of incredible connection to the two AI companions aboard the games one location the generation ship the “Mugunghwa”. Christine Love keeps you guessing just how much shes going to put our characters through in this society and keeps the idea in the back of your mind of how ever a progressive society smart enough to create a starship to travel the galaxy over generations could devolve into one that doesn’t even write in the same language as it started and suppresses the rights of women to the point of slavery. As the Pale Bride a character thrust from a progressive past into a terrible future puts things “The Future is Hell”
We as the player are guided through the tale of the fall of the “Mugunghwa” by one of two AI companions, *Hyun-ae the archivist AI, and *Mute the security AI, each one having a different view about the society they served and how justified it was with *Hyun-ae showing disdain and Mute explaining that it was simply how things were and that we simply wouldn’t understand as outsiders.
The visual novel in itself is really two separate stories, one of the "Mugunghwa" a colony spaceship launched generations before the story takes place. We don't get any information before the final dynasty of the ship has taken over, all previous information had been destroyed according to *Hyun-ae, by the time we start to read about the ship its degraded into a patriarchal Confucianism based society that puts women in such a low standing its considered improper for them to leave the house and they are even excluded from schooling most not even learning how to read and write. The ship has also switched from its native Korean to Chinese.
The second story is of the two AI of the "Mugunghwa" themselves, *Hyun-ae a self proclaimed archivist AI who has been so lonely being active for so long in deep space with no one to talk to that she latches onto the first being shes seen in hundreds of years even going so far as revealing her love of cosplay and letting the player pick which outfit she wears. The other being the security AI *Mute in a traditional Korean dress whom if you identify yourself as man is a respectful quiet type who assists you in your dealings and tries her best to serve you, and if your a woman is a brash opinionated girl who feels excited to have someone she can speak freely with and not have to worry about being respectful. Both of which are drawn in a Korean manhwa style and are the majority of the visuals for the game outside of the occasional GUI interface or archived picture of a character in the e-mails your reading.
We the player are a sort of space detective or archivist for a galactic historical society searching through the information presented to us by the two AI, even though they never speak to each other as the failing generation ship only has enough energy to keep one of them active at a time, interacting with them and answering questions about ourselves and the world around us with *Hyun-ae asking about earth and other romantic things and *Mute asking why someone like us could stand being alone out in the galaxy so long, and if you reveal yourself as a woman to *Mute she questions about how exactly it feels to be an independent woman and how we see ourselves. All of these things you answer with a dialogue wheel which is given to you by the AIs as the translation functions of the "Mugunghwa" are broken and both AI say this is the best they can do.
The story keeps you engaged by progressively unlocking more and more relevant information, reading an e-mail written by the Magistrates Wife might open more emails written by her or perhaps the responses her husband gave to her until you finally learn the fate of the “Mugunghwa” and just how the society came to its end. Its disjointed purposely engrossing you into your role as an archivist or detective hunting through a fragmented and aging hard drive forcing the player to have to put the pieces of the story together themselves and wonder if you can exactly trust what each AI is telling you as the two of them keep their biases out on their sleeve. The visual novel even has a few more gamey elements when about halfway through the story the reactor of the “Mugunghwa” starts to fail and we are forced to rout power in order to keep it from melting down and have to do so under a timer. These little moments are what really shine at keeping you as a player involved instead of just a reader with a book
All in all the story shines in just how much it makes you feel for its characters and how much you find yourself wondering how all of this could of happened, however the true fall of the "Mugunghwa" the one that brought about the Ryu dynasty that would eventually kill the ship isn't told until the visual novels sequel Hate Plus.