Christine Love's visual novels are some of the most thought-provoking pieces of interactive storytelling available for home computers.
Love has been responsible for a number of different titles over the years -- some of which she'd rather forget about -- but it's her last three games Digital: A Love Story; Don't Take It Personally, Babe, It Just Ain't Your Story; and Analogue: A Hate Story that have drawn the most attention from press and public alike.
Each of these three titles tackles societal issues particularly relevant to the modern, electronic, constantly-connected age that we live in, but each of them goes about telling its story in a different way. Digital sees you uncovering the mysterious identity of someone from the desktop of a non-copyright infringing Commodore Amiga-style desktop; Don't Take It Personally... sees you taking on the role of a teacher and coming to terms with the fact that each new generation thinks about privacy in a very different way from the last; and Analogue: A Hate Story, Love's most ambitious and challenging title to date, weaves a complex multi-layer narrative in which you uncover the truth of what happened to the society aboard a derelict spacecraft by reading through personal logs and gradually piecing the events together yourself.
Now, Love is gearing up to launch her newest game, Hate Plus. As the name implies -- besides the reference to legendary DS dating sim Love Plus, that is -- it's a sequel of sorts to Analogue: A Hate Story. Picking up where the original game left off, Hate Plus sees you making the three-day trip back to Earth after uncovering what really happened on the starship Mugunghwa amid its patriarchal neo-Confucian society, inspired by real-life Korean society in the Joseon Dynasty. Accompanied by one of the AI sidekicks from the previous game, you'll have a whole new mystery to solve, based on what happened in "year zero" on the Mugunghwa.
Those who played through Analogue will be able to import their save file and follow on from the ending they achieved, but Love is keen to make the game accessible to newcomers, too, so you don't have to have played Hate Plus' predecessor beforehand. Hate Plus is a considerably expanded experience over and above Analogue, with a lot more dialogue, many more plot branches and enhanced gameplay. Love has been chronicling development and the game's new features via her Twitter account if you ever wanted to follow the trials and tribulations of independent development -- or were just curious about the creative process that goes into something like this.
To say too much more would probably be to spoil the experience, so I'll leave you by saying that Hate Plus will be available from August 19 for PC, Mac and Linux; it'll cost $10; and it'll have a free demo available. In the meantime, you can pick up a copy of Analogue from Steam or direct from Love herself.
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