Romance plots in games have always been one of the hardest things to write. Often, they fall into one of many typical cliches, or they go completely off the rails, confusing the player. Hate Plus avoids these potential pitfalls, telling a wonderful story that is designed to be interactive.
Hate Plus picks up right where last year’s Analogue: A Hate Story left off, and will load save data to take advantage of choices made in the first game. If you don’t have any, the game will simply ask the player to fill in this information. While Hate Plus is playable without finishing the first game, you miss out on a lot of story if you haven’t played it, as the game will refer to the events of Analogue frequently.
The core of Hate Plus follows the same format as Analogue: you are primarily interacting with the same AI personalities, and learning about what happened on the Mugunghwa (though after the events of Analogue, you are now on your way back to Earth).
The logs again reveal additional information about life on the Mugunghwa, the government and politics aboard the ship and the role of women. As time passes, the Mugunghwa is portrayed as a huge “what if” scenario, as the ship has been adrift for centuries when found and the game makes no mention of the current time period’s stance on these topics. Tt is left to the player to decide this, often responding to questions from one of the AI characters.
The trip to Earth takes three days. This is not a time limit, though it is affected by the passage of real-world time. You can examine a set number of logs each day, and between days you must power down your ship to allow it to recharge. Between “days,” 12 real-world hours must pass. You can end a day whenever you want, and the game will tell you when this is possible, so you can still read old logs or talk to the AI until you decide to power down.
When reading through logs, Hate Plus adds a few refinements. Most notably, there are pictures of many of the characters, and the ability to recall information about a character by clicking their name when it appears in a log. As the complex web of relationships could be a bit awkward to keep track of in Analogue, this is a big help.
The story follows the same style that made Analogue great, and the progression between days adds to the story. Having to stop and take a break gives the player time to stop and think. The game doesn’t take all that long to finish, and as with Analogue, there are several different paths it can take. The length is just enough to tell its story, and doesn’t pad itself with filler.
Hate Plus is Christine Love’s best work yet, and anyone with an interest in visual novels, or simply an interest in story-driven games, should definitely check it out.
Pros: Well crafted, interesting from beginning to end
Cons: Leaves the player wanting more