Room 208

Elaborate Burn

Spoilers for Analogue’s endings after the break.

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@fioradorable, on the game’s *Hyun-ae endings:

Digital: A Love Story’s protagonist – who’s practically invisible, by design! – has an unspecified gender. S/he can be whoever you imagine and the game doesn’t try to stop you from thinking that. This is extra important here because, in Digital, the protagonist is you. If halfway through, Digital suddenly went and pointed out the protagonist’s maleness, it would be rather jarring – a sudden recognition that the protagonist isn’t actually me, and perhaps that the game isn’t even intended for me! Fortunately, Digital avoided this.

Analogue didn’t.

It doesn’t have an excuse either, because *Hyun-ae actually asked me my gender, to which I responded correctly! Yet, later in the story, she seems to forget this – first saying that she doesn’t know, and then blindly assuming again that I am male.

“A good friend, except female.” … is the concept of a “good friend” default-male?

This sort of thing happened periodically towards the ending, which honestly made it very anticlimactic, kicking out my emotional connection. Honestly, I expected Christine Love to be better than this.

Here’s where I wish Analogue had scene-by-scene replay like Katawa Shoujo, because I’m likely to be proven wrong about what I’m about to say, thus invalidating this entire post, thereby making me look stupid and inarticulate on the Internet, heaven forbid that ever happen *deep breath* – but I don’t recall *Hyun-ae asking about the player’s gender. I know *Mute inquires about it (and your marital status, even) almost immediately after you reactivate her, since she seems to need it to frame her interactions with you. *Hyun-ae, though, doesn’t really seem to care, even up to the point where you download her core from the Mugunghwa to your ship.

In this context, the “good friend, except female” comment isn’t very sensitive to the player’s gender, but I don’t think it’s a jarring break of character. *Hyun-ae is, despite everything that’s happened to her, still essentially sixteen years old, and it’s pretty clear that she’s injected a good bit of romantic fantasy into her perception of you. After all, she still knows virtually nothing about you by this point, as she repeatedly admits. Given that she’s apparently straight, she’s probably going to conjure up a male mental image for her romantic partner – I wouldn’t be surprised if she sees the player as a prince come to save her from a life of protracted loneliness. Yes, she could probably ask, like *Mute does, but I think she’s so absorbed in her own imagination that the thought doesn’t really occur to her. Consider it a reflection of *Hyun-ae’s character, not of the game’s assumptions.