Self-preparation for “Analogue: A Hate Story”

Apr 29

Today has been an exciting Internet day for me. And when you’re unemployed (thanks, [name withheld]!), an exciting Internet day may as well be an exciting in-real-life day. Count me among the gleeful. I’m too blessed to be stressed, etc.

I’m currently coming down off a high from hearing one of my all-time favorite bands play their first show in nearly a decade (even with the low video quality, that LiveStream from Five Iron Frenzy really did pick me up). Before that, however, I played through a neat little indie graphic adventure built using Ren’Py (the same Python tool that made “Katawa Shoujo” a reality and will likely make my own dreams come true someday). That game is called “Digital: A Love Story” (download here) and it’s more book-ish than any graphic adventure I’ve played before. The entire game takes place in a semi-sleek pre-Windows interface. It’s 1988, and the proto-Internet world of BBS forums are really starting to take off. You play … yourself. And you manage to fall in love with a girl. And then things get really interesting, and history merges with fiction to create a surprisingly epic story in a neat little package.

It’s worth noting that, for all the text available in this “game,” it is remarkably short. The side-game browser-based UI content found in the “.hack//” series or “Front Mission 3″ pack more content than this particular title. And yet, as a stand-alone product, it is exceptional. The attention to detail is wonderful, from the dial-up modem to the background MIDI and the awesome ASCII art. And, again, the nature of the content is fantastic. It starts so mundane and then becomes surprisingly heady. I’d give it a 5-star rating, except that the game’s creator (and/or some third generation AI) doesn’t know how to spell the word “separate.” So, four stars.

Sadly, that password will not gain you access to any BBS in Digital: A Love Story.

Back on track: why am I writing about this game? It is an early title from indie developer / writer Christine Love, whom we will (hopefully) be interviewing in a future episode of The Jurassic Hour. Her latest title, which just launched on Steam for $10 this weekend, is a spiritual successor to Digital, as made obvious by its antonymic nature. Said game is “Analogue: A Hate Story,” and having just dipped my toes in that game, all I can say is I AM VERY EXCITED. Everything I love about visual novels, including really awesome high-end ones like “999″ and “Ever17,” and even the story section of the recent indie hit “Sequence,” is sure to be found in the following hours. I might not be able to sleep tonight. And if I can’t sleep, that’s fine, because I’ll keep playing Analogue and then you’ll get to read my review even sooner.

But until that time comes, I recommend you go download and play through Digital (here’s that link again), and if you like it, buy Analogue. Note also that between these two games, Ms. Love did make another visual novel (free to download) entitled “don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story.” That’s a mouthful, and it’s one I intend to get my mouth around, but I’m going to play Analogue first. Because I bought it and it’s shiny and new.

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