After Analogue, Hate Plus feels small. Safer, even.
Hate Plus is beautifully written, as expected. Love has a way of turning small, personal stories into compelling, overarching narratives. Reading about, for instance, an actress's fall from grace and then watching Love tie it in to her larger tale is always fascinating.
The game suffers from occasional bouts of prequel disease, though. We already know where the tale is going, and while it's a tale well-told, there's nothing to really shock anyone who played Analogue because we've already seen much worse. Hate Plus tells the story of a society slowly falling into ruin, while Analogue showed the society already at rock bottom. As such, the sins in Hate Plus are lesser evils. Small betrayals, slides into madness. Hate Plus is Berlin, 1960, not Berlin in 1975. It's the last days of the Roman Republic, not the heavy shadow of Caligula.
Hate Plus also loses something by sticking you with a single AI. In Analogue, the constant push-pull between *Mute and *Hyun-Ae kept the story dynamic, whereas here you're stuck listening to one AI for the whole game. It doesn't help that *Mute is particularly aggravating, as her brand of ingrained misogyny and constant need for male approval quickly wears on you.
Hate Plus is a fine addition to people who played Analogue, and its tale of political machinations and a crumbling society is fascinating--a great look at slippery slopes, how small changes over time can effect larger shifts later, and how little it takes to undermine ideals.
When compared to its predecessor, however, Hate Plus is the game equivalent of those family trees in the back of the book: of interest to fans who really want to dig into the lore, but not nearly as emotionally effective.
The story in Hate Plus, like every visual novel Love writes, plays out inside a virtual retro-futuristic PC, as if you were interacting with the actual computer onboard your ship.
The best change to Hate Plus is a new system that highlights names in the text (such as Councillor Kim or "my granddaughter"); these names function like links, bringing you to a page with the person's name, picture, and whatever you've read about them so far. Since names in Hate Plus follow Korean standards (like Analogue) I found it really helpful to keep the fairly large cast of characters straight.
The game is broken into three days of real-time. Each day you're allowed to download a certain number of log entries before your ship runs out of power and needs to recharge. While "recharging", you're kicked back to the main menu and told to wait twelve hours. While you could bypass the wait, I recommend playing along. I'll just quote what Love told me when I asked her whether I should skip ahead or not: "It will be much more effective if you go along with the restrictions!" I agree with her.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.