Steins;Gate (PS Vita) Review

By Drew Hurley 03.01.2016 4

Review for Steins;Gate on PS Vita

Steins;Gate is the second title of the "Science Adventure series" of titles from a collaboration of 5pb and Nitro+. It sounds innocent enough, but is a series of standalone, mature and highbrow visual novel titles that excel in telling dark, provocative and enrapturing tales. The game was originally released on Xbox 360 in Japan - a strange choice for the platform of a visual novel - although it quickly received ports to most platforms in the East. The English release of the game has now finally reached the platform that all VNs belong on: PS Vita. This time-travelling twisted tale is considered the finest in the Science Adventure series, and Cubed3 finds out why.

Steins;Gate follows the evil mad scientist Hououin Kyouma, member 001 of the Future Gadget Laboratory. This lab works on developing world-changing inventions, while battling against the shadowy and nefarious group known as the "Organization." At least, that's what Kyouma claims. There seems to be another truth, too: that this is all a childish fantasy of Kyouma (real name Rintarou Okabe), that he is actually a simple college student, that the other members of Future Gadget Laboratory are just childhood friends, that they are bored "hacker" otakus from college that like playing with gadgets so they play along, and that their "lab" is just a small apartment.

As the story progresses, however, Okabe finds that his reality is suddenly stranger than even his most out there fantasies of mad scientists and evil organisations when he accidently invents a form of time travel. The core of the story is based around the prospect of travelling through time and the effects it has on the present, initially just with the ability to send a message to the past, then in more... substantial ways. All the best time travel stories have their own rules, though, and Steins;Gate uses a plot device much like that used in one of the most famous time travel adventures: Doctor Who.

Here, there are many potential branching realities, or "world lines," but common to them all are fixed points in time - events that have to happen in all realities. This becomes something of the core antagonist: fate itself. As Okabe tries desperately to avert what seems inevitable, he has to make harder and harder decisions, forcing himself to believe the ends will justify the means.

Screenshot for Steins;Gate on PS Vita

Being a visual novel, the only real gameplay aspects are the making of these choices, and it also being a time travel story further compounds the focus on choice, as even the characters begin to try and plan the choices based on cause and effect. While the game begins as a seemingly light-hearted story and presents what appear to be innocuous choices and changes to the world line at first, such as simple things to make the other members of the team happier or their lives better, the reality is much darker. As the story develops, the choices become so much heavier hitting, bringing with them severe consequences and making for some tough decisions; even the apparent innocent changes can sometimes have unfathomable ramifications.

The reason these choices are so difficult is because of the strength of the cast. This is very much a character driven story and it isn't just Okabe's; a wide variety of characters are introduced over the course of the adventure and it's easy to get attached to each of them. Some of these characters are also used in the obligatory dating aspects found in many visual novels, but, thankfully, this part of the game doesn't feel too tacked on, and, instead, serves to further develop each of the characters.

Time travel is a plot device used often in numerous forms of media, but rarely is it done well. Part of the reason the time travel aspects are so good here is the reliance on real world science. Science aficionados will adore Steins;Gate, as it does with science what many games have done with pop culture in the past. It is overflowing with plenty of terminology, references and Easter eggs to events, theorem and scientists of the real world.

There are around 25 hours or so for a playthrough, but this adventure is one to be played and replayed again and again, with multiple endings that each explores the possible fates, resulting in around double that to see the whole story.

Screenshot for Steins;Gate on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

This is, regardless of medium, one of the finest time travel stories to have been told, and a superb example of a true artist plying their craft. The other titles in the Science Adventure series have all been great and worth experiencing, but Steins;Gate sets itself completely apart as something truly special. Not only is it a requirement for any visual novel fan, but is also an ideal title to introduce potential new players to the genre. El Psy Congroo.

Developer

5pb

Publisher

PQube

Genre

Visual Novel

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Really tempted by this.

I have been curious about this title for quite a while. Happy to hear it turned out well. Smilie

I really like games that puts heavy emphasis on choices and consequences of these. It makes for interesting and emotionally attaching hooks.

The difference between illusion and reality is vague to the one who suffers from the former and questionable for the one suffering form the later.

It's only about £15 now, too. Might wait a little longer to see if it goes any lower. Got plenty of other games to keep me going for now.

I love this game! I spent most of my summer playing through it!

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