Analogue: a Hate Story certainly isn't billed as a feminist game. It's creator, Christine Love, cheekily describes it as being more about transhumanism, traditional marriage, loneliness, and cosplay. Maybe that's true. All I can say is that as a man, the game struck me as unflinchingly feminist. Now, I don't mean that in a confrontational, all-men-are-♥♥♥♥♥♥-pigs straw feminist sort of way. Hell, maybe feminism is not even the right word for it, maybe it's just a game about female experiences presented matter-of-factly. Ladies, this may seem obvious to you. But to us males, this is a wholly unsettling and unexpected revelation.
The story as outlined is simple and humble enough. You, a private detective (in space!), travel to a recently discovered wreck of a space ship, which had been previously lost for thousands of years. This ship once held an entire nation of people as it traveled to a distant planet. Somewhere along the way, the ship's inhabitants died out completely. It's up to you to sift through the ship's computer data (with the help of artificial intelligence friends) to discover the fate of the lost nation.
If you're like me, that story sounds fairly pedestrian so far, right? But the ship's recovered computer logs tell a much different, much more personal story.
Over thousands of years, this isolated society has regressed in both education and culture to the whereabouts of 15th century Korea. Despite living on an impressive space-faring vessel, and being assisted by futuristic artificial intelligences, its inhabitants are mostly simple farm folk who know little of the ship, or the universe, around them. And just like in 15th century Korea, conditions for women are horrifyingly bad.
The AIs ask you personal questions throughout the game, such as who you are, where you're from, and whether or not you've visited Pyonyang. You know, getting-to-know-you stuff. The first time I played through, I was asked if I was a male or female, and I answered honestly. I played through the game, and that normally would have been the end of it. However, there's a Steam achievement for playing through a particular ending as both a male and a female, so I played the same ending again. As a female, the writing changes. In this new scene, it was all I could do to not reach through the computer monitor and slap that AI around until the smug falls out.
This AI's dialogue is fairly standard and neutral as a male, while as a female, the AI's dialogue is condescending and dismissive of everything you say. As a male, this concept that I could be disregarded so easily was a bit shocking.
Is Analogue a FUN game? By no means. In fact, there's a race-against-the-clock mission (in a visual novel!) that really should have been heavily altered. But its story is solid, and compelling enough to make you overlook its flaws. Even weeks later, the story stuck with me, haunting me, making me question every interaction I've ever had with women over the course of my life.
TL;DR - Do you like reading? Play this game. It's important.