Steins;Gate 0 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Az Elias 01.07.2017 2

Review for Steins;Gate 0 on PlayStation 4

It cannot go overstated the impact Steins;Gate has had amongst the visual novel crowd. Its popularity alone has been enough to entice even VN first-timers into giving it a go, and having their world flipped upside-down as they discover an entirely new category of video games with a plethora of gems. Others have been lured in by its anime adaptation, which itself has been a smash hit. Such a highly-regarded story, with its loveable characters and countless unanswered questions, was bound to be revisited, and that result is Steins;Gate 0.

Please be aware that there may be spoilers for the previous title, Steins;Gate, below.

Considering the true ending of Steins;Gate, it's probably safe to say most fans would have loved to see a new adventure following on from that perfect moment. Alas, 5pb took another direction, attempting to clear up the gaps that led to that very timeline. It might not have been so obvious at first, but between Rintaro Okabe's penultimate and final attempts to jump into the time machine and save Makise Kurisu, an awful lot happened. This important story is what is told in Steins;Gate 0 (read the PS Vita review here).

Between the aforementioned leaps into the past, the once self-proclaimed "mad scientist" Okabe enters a state of depression. Heartbroken and resigned to fate, he looks to rebuild his life anew, accepting that he cannot change destiny - and nor does he care about bearing the huge responsibility that comes with jumping through time in order to save the world from the devastating world chaos that has been proven to ensue in the future. It's not really until the revelations that Okabe - despite his struggles - has sacked off his mad scientist alter ego and is going through college to become the scientist he yearns to be that it hits that this really is going to be a Steins;Gate without the one and only Kurisu.

Screenshot for Steins;Gate 0 on PlayStation 4

That already sets in a certain feeling of dismay. After all, she and Okabe made the first visual novel what it is - along with the rest of the gang, of course. Without Kurisu, though, it really feels like there is a hole that only her presence can fill. It almost seems like the developers had to work the girl genius into this narrative anyhow they could, though, as the core plot device is that of an advanced AI based on Kurisu's memories, known as Amadeus. As fate would have it, Okabe cannot escape Kurisu, even after the events that transpired in the original title.

As much as it's great to have "Kurisu" here, knowing that Amadeus is an AI is always in the back of the mind. It is difficult to grow attached to her in the same way as her true self in Steins;Gate, simply because of what happened prior to these events, and, of course, because it isn't the real Kurisu, despite all efforts to make her seem to be.

It makes seeing how Okabe interacts with the AI tough at times, as there is a lot of confliction and confusion going on in his mind, which would be totally understandable for anyone in his situation. Amadeus' existence does, however, enable a thought-provoking and thoroughly fascinating story to be told, befitting that of the previous game's narrative, and it all ties in perfectly to the overarching plot.

Screenshot for Steins;Gate 0 on PlayStation 4

Although the timeline shifting is essentially out of Okabe's hands in terms of storyline (there are still choices to be made that lead down various ending paths), this fact makes for an equally enthralling plot, as Okabe is forced to deal with ever-changing timelines, trying to discover what has been changed and why. Other times, it is clear as day that timeline shifts have occurred, and many of the situations that unfold - sometimes over a long period of time - shape Okabe's character throughout the novel.

As in Steins;Gate, the character development is exemplary, and it could even be argued that it is bettered in this title. Given the state Okabe is in at the start of Steins;Gate 0, and the heavy experiences he has to endure here, after trying to make a clean break in life, it is compelling seeing the range of emotions he goes through and how it shapes his persona. Needless to say, there are some standout moments that stick in the mind.

It isn't just Okabe that is given this quality of writing, though, as pretty much every main character from the first game is shown to develop and mature in their own wonderful and respectful ways. Even with the level of humour and geek culture that is pivotal to the series' appeal, there is a high degree of seriousness that brings things back to reality. With the excellent Japanese voice acting bringing them to life, this is one of the core reasons that the characters are so beloved; they can be eccentric and overemphasised, but they are absolutely relatable.

Screenshot for Steins;Gate 0 on PlayStation 4

New characters are introduced and play central roles in the story, with the most prominent being Maho, a friend and colleague of Kurisu. She quickly grows into being a favourite in the cast, and just as between Okabe and Kurisu, the relationship that unfolds between Okabe and Maho is just as amusing and told in a believable manner. One other unfamiliar face looks bizarrely similar to another, which goes mentioned, but unexplained, and seems a pretty odd thing to have done, although she is very much her own character when it comes down to it.

For all of its gripping quality of writing, though, this is one visual novel that does tend to drag on a little longer that it probably should do, lasting a bit longer than even the first title when uncovering the true ending. Some branches drag on too much, and even though this has been designed to clear up the gaps and tie up some loose ends, there is still confusion lingering regarding certain events. Admittedly, that's part of the intrigue; it can be left up to readers to discuss and figure out exactly what transpires. Timelines are never an easy thing to understand, after all.

Minor nit-picks are noticeable, such as the odd grammatical error, reversing the order of first and last names of characters from the first game, and even entirely removing the Japanese word "chuunibyou" from the English dialogue localisation, despite the original title more or less popularising the term. Jumping from the first title to the second makes these things stand out all the more, and brings into question why such changes exist.

Screenshot for Steins;Gate 0 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

There should be no reason to miss out on Steins;Gate 0 for anyone who played the first title. It might not have quite the same impact as Steins;Gate, but it succeeds in telling a fascinating story, delving into intriguing and poignant subjects of our time, and excellently developing the characters involved. Whilst it does go on a bit longer than it probably should do, many fans will find this to be a positive, as it's a universe impossible to let go of.

Developer

5pb

Publisher

PQube

Genre

Visual Novel

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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

Comments

Still working my way through Steins;Gate on PC at the moment and thoroughly enjoying the story, and even the little tips that are picked up along the way, and how you can take a pause during conversations to reply to emails quickly. I wasn't expecting much interaction, so it's great that the developer's included various bits and bobs to give a break every now-and-then.

Is 0 also out on PC? I might have to check it out next when finished.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

No Steam version yet, but will be a matter of time.

Sounds like there is more to come from this series, with announcements on their way. Could just be anime or manga stuff tho.

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
hinchjoie, Ofisil, RudyC3

There are 3 members online at the moment.