Taking a look at the first Anime Visual Novel I ever played.
I had avoided AVNs for years before I finally took the plunge with Analogue. What finally got me to even consider the genre? A couple of reviews I had read about this game when it came out. While I did review Without Within first, that was just timing more than anything else. I had intended on this to be the first review for this genre.
A Paladin’s Steam Review: Analogue: A Hate Story
- Genre: Anime Visual Novel.
- Developed & Published by: Love Conquers All Games
- Platform: Windows, Mac OSX and Linux.
- Business Model: Base Game.
- Copy Purchased by Myself
My first foray into the Anime Visual genre got started on a darkly toned story. No, I didn’t know what I was getting into. But, I don’t think I couldn’t have started off on a stronger note.
Overall Story Thoughts
Analogue starts off light enough. You’re an investigator, hacking into the Mugunghwa, a colony ship that lost contact with Earth a long time ago, and are greeted by a cheerful AI who’s just happy to see anyone communicate with her. She can talk to you but you can’t talk to her due to a translation problem/mcguffin. Yes/No/Maybe are the answers you can give her. So, you need to read the ship’s logs, point the AI to one of them and see what they say about it. Put clues together and figure out what went wrong. It’s when you discover the second AI that things start to get a little distributing. I won’t say anything more specific because that will run into spoiler territory and really, this game is all about the story.
The story can be a bit hard to follow at times. Logs are setup to be read at your own pace and in the order of your choosing though the game makes sure that they’re relevant regardless of when you read them. However, I found that the usage of Korean names can make it hard to follow who’s who. The game doesn’t really give you any straightforward tools to keep things straight. There are notes on pronunciation (which is very helpful I might add) and the two main family trees. However, I wish I could click on each name in the family tree and get a short bio about them (and maybe even get a list of information I’ve found about them up to this point) to keep things straight. I didn’t feel like I got my head wrapped around who was who until the later half of the game. For 59,000 words, I’d say the story is a bit more dense with lore, name usage and politics than the average story. But it gives you a really good sense of what the ship life and people involved were like so long as you’re willing to get invested.
What really caught my eye was the override terminal that gets used in the game at a couple of moments. It’s a variation of a Linux Command Line Terminal that you use to perform certain actions on the ship’s computer. It really sells that you’re actually hacking into the ship. The terminal is easy to use and the help prompt will give you all the necessary information. I really liked this feature and I hope to see other games use it.
Typical settings for games of this genre are here such as text speed, skipping read text and animations on/off. Audio sliders for music and effects are available as well. Resolutions are restricted to 1024×640 and 1024×600. Those are some…odd resolution choices to say the least. If you, understandably, don’t have these resolutions available, the game will be up-scaled and/or letter-boxed to match it. The game looks fine up-scaled. For an AVN, there is a lot of attention to detail and great use of UI to sell the futuristic aspect of the game. It does feel like something a future OS might look like.
Atmosphere & AI Characters
It’s a good looking game for an AVN. The music creates a great electronic atmosphere to pull you into the game. It does repeat pretty often but it’s subtle enough to prevent it from becoming annoying. There are romance options with the two main AIs if you wish to pursue them. Otherwise, they can be skipped, aren’t gratuitous or ridiculous if you do wish to pursue them. Considering they’re the only people you can interact with in the game, there’s a lot of weight riding on their shoulders to be interesting characters. And I think they’re pulled off really well, each containing surprises you wouldn’t expect. A minor side note: you can change their outfits as well.
This game gets dark. It comes up to the gratuitously dark line and stops itself just short of it to its credit. I really liked this title. As an introduction into the AVN genre, I don’t think I could have chosen a better title. The mystery, the futuristic setting and serious dark tone are well executed. The music and graphical presentation really sells the experience as well. While it can be a little confusing at times with names and culture references, if you’re willing to get invested it can a rewarding experience. Recommendation from this Paladin.
Thanks for reading!