While not exactly a visual novel, Christine Love’s Analogue: A Hate Story will appeal to fans of the genre, with its simple visuals and rich story. If you are not one for interactive stories that involve a lot of reading, though, then I wouldn’t recommend playing at all.
In this game you play as a detective of sorts in the distant future, tasked with finding out what happened aboard the Mugunghwa, a barren spaceship that once housed, among others, two notable Korean families. Almost the entire game takes place within the ship’s computer systems, where you can read logs from various different key characters and interact with the ship’s AI, which is presented as a duality of two young women.
Reading the database of logs is much like reading the personal diaries of the various different characters, and reveals very early in the game many of the sci-fi themes and motifs that are woven into the plot, such as oppression against women and the subjective, shaky lines between civilized and primitive behavior.
What makes playing this game more interesting than simply reading fictional historical accounts (future historical accounts?) is the interactions with the ship’s AI. You may read logs and then “show” these logs to the two AI characters, who will then reveal more logs and at times ask you questions that force you to think about some fairly heavy subjects. There are also a few basic puzzles to break up the monotony of reading.
All in all, this was a worthwhile couple of hours spent, which may not match the game’s Steam price tag of $9.99, but the game does tend to go on sale once in a while. Pick it up when it does!