“Hate Plus is cosmetically prettier,” [than Analogue: A Hate Story] “and plays with real time. At the end of each part, in order to ‘recharge’ the ship’s batteries which are running on emergency backup, you have to shut down the game and return 12 hours later. You’ll need three real-time days to play this game. At first this seems like a tyrannical gimmick, as most games would use this as a cynical move to extend play time. But I started to realise that the game was attempting to seep into my actual life; when I started up to read again 12 hours later, I was refreshed and more interested in the archives again, and I was more receptive to chatting with my AI companion.

Later, there’s a bit where your AI will ask you to bake a cake. No, actually bake a cake. Have you got the ingredients? Go and check your cupboards for them. Nope, you didn’t take long enough checking for the ingredients, I can tell you didn’t actually do it – and so on. The game timed my responses, eventually actually goading me into thinking I had to make a cake of some sort. You can send Love a picture of your real-life cake to gain a Steam achievement.

It’s an adorable joke, and yet the insistence on the player baking a cake is thematically and mechanically interesting. Within the context of video games, Christine Love is the closest we have to the author Margaret Atwood. Both writers touch on the themes of unreliable memories, the fallibility of people, gender relations. Is the often feminine-coded act of baking an attempt to bring the oppressive gender ideas of the Mugunghwa right into the player’s reality? Is it an extension of the thematic emphasis on the fertility of women – that there should always be a ‘bun in the oven’, so to say? Perhaps it’s just that Christine Love is being playful, finding ways to include her enthusiastic community? Everything is done with a little feminist wink, rather than the usual video game sledgehammer: Here is an ironic statement. Here is that ironic statement several more times.”

Read the review by Cara Ellison from Eurogamer here

Find Christine Love’s website here