Steins;Gate
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 9

Steins;Gate started off quite interesting, and had me hooked with its unique story, but by the end I was literally on the edge of my seat. Although it is quite a long game, there is literally never a dull moment. The use of a mobile phone to make choices, and branch the story is a stroke of genius, and with six different endings there is a lot of replay value. If you want to experience a visual novel with plenty of action, drama, suspense and outstanding characters, then don’t miss out on Steins;Gate.

Gameplay: Not only is the story excellent, but there is actually a surprising amount of choices for a visual novel.

Graphics: The artwork and character designs are beautiful.

Sound: The original Japanese voice acting is very good, and the music is equally great

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Steins;Gate

Developer: 5pb. / Nitroplus | Publisher: Jast USA |Release Date: 2014 | Genre: Visual Novel / Adventure | Website: Official Website | Format: JAST USA / Steam

Steins;Gate takes place during the summer of 2010, and is set in the Tokyo district of Akihabara. The protagonist, and narrator of the story, Okabe Rintaro, is a bit of an oddball that fancies himself to be a mad scientist. Okabe has constructed an elaborate backstory for himself, but for all his delusions of grandeur and penchant for conspiracies he is actually just an 18 year old student at Tokyo Denki University.

Together with his scatterbrained childhood friend, Shiina Mayuri, and fellow university student, Daru, Okabe spends most of his time hanging out at the “Future Gadget Laboratory.” The laboratory is actually just the space above a CRT shop that Okabe is renting for cheap, but the trio actually manages to invent a machine that can send messages to the past. This accidental discovery sets in motion a chain of events that is more incredible than any of the convoluted flights of imagination that Okabe is fond of indulging in.

Steins;Gate is a visual novel, so to say any more about the plot would be like spoiling a good book. I was fortunate enough to have never watched or read anything about the game, so I experienced everything it had to offer without any preconceived notions or expectations. The game was originally released in 2009, so it has taken quite a while for the official English translation, but it has been more than worth the wait. I have played some great visual novels in my time, but Steins;Gate is without a shadow of a doubt one of the best.

The game actually starts off a little slow, but the characters are so great that it is impossible not to get caught up in their story. Okabe is quite an eccentric character, but the way that he reverts to his mad scientist persona or bestows people with unwanted nicknames actually makes him quite memorable if not endearing. All of the characters are really fleshed out, and while some conform to the usual stereotypes, they really grow on you as the game unfolds. This is all thanks to the outstanding writing and great translation. The game promises over 30 hours of story and this is certainly no idle boast. To unlock all six different endings, and view all the branches that the story has, actually takes a lot longer. The amount of text that had to be translated is quite amazing, and I was impressed throughout by how well it was done.

Steins;Gate uses a very unique art style, where the hair and clothes of the characters has an almost grungy texture. The character designs are great, and while most of the game is set in and around Akhibara, there are still plenty of locations. Animation is mostly restricted to the facial expressions, but this doesn’t detract from the beauty of the artwork. The audio is very good, with quality voice acting that can be appreciated even if you don’t understand a word of Japanese. The game also has a nice selection of background music that fit the mood of each scene perfectly.

Unlike most visual novels, where you usually have to make a choice between two options in order to branch the storyline, Steins;Gate employs a different technique. Okabe carries his mobile phone with him at all times and constantly receives phone calls or emails. You can answer or ignore these calls, and reply to certain highlighted parts of the emails, which then influences the ending you get. It is a very unique and unobtrusive method of making choices, and there were times where I almost didn’t realize that I could change events by opening up the phone and making a call.

While the game starts off very light-hearted, it soon becomes mysterious before taking a very dark turn towards the end. Steins;Gate certainly knows how to make you care for characters before placing them in peril. I was impressed by the growth that the lead character shows throughout the game, and even some of the “minor” characters are very memorable. The game isn’t afraid to inject a lot of slang, otaku terminology, and even scientific principles into conversations, but come with a handy “hints” section that serves as a dictionary. Although there isn’t any outright sex or nudity, the game has enough blood, violence and language to ensure that it is suitable for mature audiences only.

Overall, there is very little that I can fault about Steins;Gate. If you are a fan of visual novels, then you really have no excuse to pick this one up. It offers many hours of engrossing and intriguing gameplay that will keep you hooked right to the end. Despite the length of the game, it also offers a lot of replay value with the six different endings to unlock and even a bunch of achievements. If you want a visual novel with a really in-depth storyline and memorable characters we simply cannot recommend Steins;Gate enough. It is quite obvious that a lot of effort went into bringing this title to English speaking audiences, and for that the publishers deserve a lot of respect.

System Requirements

  • Windows XP (32-bit only) / Vista (32-bit only) / 7 / 8
  • CPU: (Required) Pentium 4 / (Recommended) Pentium 4 3GHz, Core2Duo
  • Harddrive Space: 3.0GB
  • Monitor Resolution: 1024 x 768
  • Graphics: 64MB VRAM, DirectX 9.0c
  • Windows XP (32-bit only) / Vista (32-bit only) / 7 / 8
  • CPU: (Required) Pentium 4 / (Recommended) Pentium 4 3GHz, Core2Duo
  • Harddrive Space: 3.0GB
  • Monitor Resolution: 1024 x 768
  • Graphics: 64MB VRAM, DirectX 9.0c

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