Christine Love has just released a new visual novel, Analogue: A hate story, it was wonderful and cried at the end. Her previous release, Don’t take it personally babe, it ain’t your story, was also an excellent piece of literature that I blogged earlier and her newest work did the same magic. I’m writing this as a short reaction post and I will strive not to spoil the story.
Analogue: A hate story is a mystery story set in the far future with themes dealing with transhumanism, feminism, traditional marriage and a clash of morals. Five possible endings with two pursuable characters (I found all endings, the last ending was a mixture of epiphany and luck). The greatest draw about Love’s works is the way she constructed her characters that are so approachable, believable and in terms of communication science, help us transport ourselves immersing into the narrative. The unreliable narrator trope, as Shii noted, was one of the reason that *Hyun-ae was so compelling to me because she has her ulterior motives and her reasons to withholding information, when revealed paved the bricks towards the formation of a parasocial relationship. Every word I read with empathy and I grew to empathize with *Hyun-ae. Despite or rather ignoring some barriers, I wanted to hug her so much for what she went through.
The environment also plays an important role that sets the mood in the story. The environment was simple, but the contrast between the white virtual world and its dark underlying pipeworks was played to great effect. Every time, I went to this dark virtual basement, I felt insecure, fearful of whatever commands I input would risk harming the heroines, the noise of machine work put me on edge, it was an unwelcome reality of loneliness that I wanted to get out.
Much of the game involves reading log entries of the long-dead crew and how they lived their lives until their sudden end. Depending on whom you are with, you explore a society whose moral values that you will up end condemning moral relativism at the end. The interactions between you and the heroine, either *Hyun-ae or *Mute, involved dealing our reactions and theirs to these log entries. One of the weaknesses is that I could not follow the characters from those log entries, I could not follow who is talking or whom they were referring to, either there are too many or simply it is because these characters are Koreans and I have difficulty remembering Korean names. It might have been easier to use English names, but I understand why the author chose to create Korean characters and that the reasons were clear in the bonus content’s historical notes. On the other hand, I suppose the author anticipated this problem by making the log entries relatively short and they were grouped into blocks so that each block are relatively self-contained meta-narratives, so it was not a big loss not being able to follow the characters.
The visual novel does not possess the dynamic movement of a 3D character with a voice, emergent storyline, interactive freedom, nor the arousing excitement of a Hollywoodian first-person shooter videogame, characteristics of what the common American gamer defines videogame. Nevertheless, the visual novel can affect our emotions (as I have and others who played it), with our imagination filling in the gap (whatever that may be), our psychological distance with the narrative and characters becomes smaller, so close to have touched our minds and this is deserving scholarly attention.