In the hands of another writer, Analogue: A Hate Story might have been a survival horror game. After all, its story centers on a derelict colony starship that just blipped back on the radar after an absence of many hundreds of years, and much like Dead Space’s Isaac Clarke, it’s your job to scrounge around and find out what led to such a sad state of affairs. But that’s where the similarities end. Christine Love’s Analogue isn’t without its own horrors, but they lie in contemplating the ghosts of an overly patriarchal society left to evolve without outside influences instead of bloody squabbles with nightmarish baddies. This is as much of a story about love, betrayal, and duty as it is about hate, and the questions it raises linger in the mind long after finishing all five of the available endings.
Yet in the end, that’s exactly what it is--a story. You’ll have to look elsewhere if you’re expecting anything remotely action-based. It neatly sidesteps the label of mere “interactive fiction” like Love’s other games thanks to some smart design choices, but that doesn’t mean that much of your time won’t be spent poring over dozens of complex journal entries from the dead crew and jotting down the occasional note. In this case, Love initially structures the narrative so you need to interact with the ship’s AI to recover the ship’s administrative password, which is hidden among accounts of everything from cryostasis and bar fights to structured misogyny and lesbian trysts, each punctuated by a competent techno score that captures in tone of the material in question. It’s best compared to completing a puzzle. Not only does this provide the game-like experience of finding hidden nuggets of information, but it also ensures that you end up reading every page of Love’s narrative.