September 5, 2012 8:00 PM | Staff
[Guest reviewer Colin Brown profiles each game in The Getaway Bundle, now available at IndieGames' co-created site: Indie Royale.]
The last of these Indie Royale profiles is certainly not the least, as we come to Christine Love's Analogue: A Hate Story. The other games in the Getaway bundle are loads of fun and full of good design and great humour, but none of them are working on quite the same wavelength that Analogue is. This is a game that has a message. Considering that we live in a world where misogyny is still an extraordinarily serious issue, sadly, it is a very relevant message indeed.
You can probably connect this from name alone, but Analogue shares many similarities and themes with Love's excellent freeware classic Digital: A Love Story. Like Digital, Analogue is a visual novel in name but completely revamps the format and story delivery to create an entirely unique experience. You are investigating a forgotten wreck lost in space for 600 years. When searching for the data logs your employer wants, you encounter a helpful AI named *Hyun-ae who starts to parcel out logs and diaries of the long lost people on board. The reams of data that you slowly acquire not only reveal the sordid history of the ship, but they begin to paint a picture of the deeply flawed, harshly cruel yet disturbingly fascinating patriarchal society that emerged on board.
The most fascinating thing about the game is the way it leverages a very non-interactive environment into an interactive story. Aside from some terminal commands, you have very limited communication with the AIs on board that essentially amounts to yes, no or look at this. The real interaction comes from the story and the mystery, which requires you to use your brain and piece together the disconnected details. Analogue isn't so much about actual interaction between yourself and the game, as much as perceived interaction thanks to the effort you need to put into following it. The story is the game, and your outside emotional engagement with it is the real interaction. It's an absolutely brilliant method of storytelling.
In case you couldn't tell, what I'm saying is that Analogue: A Hate Story is a true gem. If you're an indie game fan that claims to be fond of genre defying games, true maturity in storylines and new ways of interacting with the medium, this is required reading. The fact that there's a very timely message mixed in as well just makes it even more important to play.
[Analogue: A Hate Story, Waves, MiniFlake, Super Amazing Wagon Adventure, Da New Guys, and Shattered Horizon are available in The Getaway Bundle at IndieGames' co-created site: Indie Royale.]