Steins;Gate (PC) Review

By Adam Riley 18.10.2017 6

Review for Steins;Gate on PC

Steins;Gate has had quite the run. Originally released on the Xbox 360 in October 2009, it has since hit almost every format other than any Nintendo ones (although that is changing in 2018 when an updated version is due to hit Switch), with the latest being an iOS edition coming in September 2016, alongside the eventual appearance on Valve's Steam service. Having received considerable praise from all corners, and even getting an official follow-up in the form of Steins;Gate 0 (on PlayStation 4 and PS Vita) late last year, Cubed3 dives into the original science fiction masterpiece now to see how it holds up after nearly a decade passing by.

Steins;Gate revolves around an eccentric university student by the name of Rintaro Okabe (Okarin to his friends, but desiring to be called by his pseudonym of Kyoma Hououin to match with his self-proclaimed mad scientist persona). Along with his university cohort, Itaru, and childhood friend, Mayuri, they make up the Future Gadget Laboratory, a small research institute that dabbles in creating devices that will help mankind in the long run. One day, they stumble upon time travel, using a tinkered-with microwave, and thus - following the inevitable incredulity of some at first, and subsequent excited tests after - ensues all sorts of chaotic timeline-adjusting shenanigans, culminating in an underhand organisation, SERN, tracking them down to prevent their continued work, since it also has a special time-related project in the offing, and the young group's meddling could jeopardise its plans, so they need to be stopped in any way necessary.

With this being a visual novel, it does not play out like other regular gameplay-filled genre titles in the videogame world. Instead, it is indeed what it says on the tin - a book in illustrative format, and in the VN scene that generally means the only interaction is to click next to carry on the conversations or reveal more descriptive text.

Screenshot for Steins;Gate on PC

The beauty of Steins;Gate, though, is that not only does its narrative exposition excel, drawing people into the tale to make them feel a part of the universe - even as if they are actually in Okabe's shoes and facing the increasing struggles and moral dilemmas he needs to deal with for the duration of the tale - it adds more interactivity than expected. Getting to know the numerous characters is an absolute joy thanks to sublime writing and fantastic voice acting, but those not always exactly enamoured by visual novels should know that there is the lure of their choices (answer or ignore specific phone calls, give different responses to email exchanges) really having a heavy impact on what ending is received at the game's conclusion.

Although obviously it is the majority of the experience, this is definitely not merely a sit back and read experience. It actually tries hard to encourage those at the helm to pay attention and get involved at the appropriate time, without breaking the atmosphere by interjecting too often. It even comes with a handy encyclopaedia for those that want to get the most out of the prose, learning more about the core topics discussed by the cast - be they fictional topics/names or instances of real life places/people/subjects sourced for the purposes of adding weight to the rest of the story. Certain words or phrases will be highlighted in the on-screen text, and they can either be clicked on directly or scrutinised at a later point. Overall, the exemplary writing and audio performances, supported by beautifully drawn portraits of the cast and locales visited, all make for one of the most engrossing journeys in the genre; unmissable for fans of visual novels and great stories alike.

Screenshot for Steins;Gate on PC

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Visual novels may not be everyone's cup of tea, but anyone that loves delving deep into the world of a great book will be right at home with this intriguing science fiction adventure, being drawn into the heart of the time travel tale thanks to narrative of the finest calibre and some first class voice acting to bring the excellent cast of characters to life. Steins;Gate even successfully implements more user interaction than expected from a game of this ilk, leading to some important decisions needing to be made, and thus the uncovering of various different endings, encouraging repeat play to unveil everything. The push of a button can change the course of history; are you brave enough to push it?

Developer

5pb

Publisher

Mages.

Genre

Visual Novel

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

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

I'm excited for the updated version next year - especially being able to play it on Switch! Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Yep, I hope they bring all these kinda games to Switch - Steins, Danganronpa, Chaos;Child, Zero Escape, the lot! Perfect machine for visual novels.

I am interested to see what new story bits they add to SG Elite, but using anime clips instead of the beautiful CG art stills has rubbed me the wrong way. Wouldn't the art look so good on the Switch in handheld mode? I hope it retains some of that. Can't work out if they think going the anime clips route is supposed to appeal to more people or not, despite VNs being niche as it is. Just a weird decision.

what a time to be alive to see such a niche genre become so openly accepted in the west.

I'd love to see more VNs and point-and-click games on Switch, definitely!

I've not seen any of the anime. Might have to check it out.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

I really need to play this.  With this on PC now I guess I have no excuse...ha.
 

It took a long time for me to really get into it, just because I was too busy when I started it, so could have definitely benefited from playing it in portable format...but once I was into the heart of the story, it was fantastic. The writing really is so well done. Everything flows perfectly and the characterisation is amazing. You build up such a close bond with everyone!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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