Steins;Gate (PC) Second Opinion Review

By Jamie Mercer 01.01.2017

Review for Steins;Gate on PC

What makes a game a "game?" Is it interaction with the virtual world? Communication with other characters? Is it challenging gameplay, pitting your wits against another carbon-based life form in multiplayer…or is it reading? Lots and lots of reading... Received extremely well by critics the world over, including by Cubed3 in our PS Vita review, Steins;Gate has arrived on PC, but is all the high praise justified?

Visual novels, as a genre, have passed this reviewer by, for the most part. Assured by others that Steins;Gate - developed by MAGES/5pb - would be like Phoenix Wright or Hotel Dusk, the game was installed and loaded promptly. Now, without wanting to go into whether visual novels are games or not (they aren't!), this genre is what would at best be described as niche, especially outside of Japan.

Steins;Gate tells the tale of an 18-year-old narcissistic, self-congratulatory, self-confessed mad scientist who travels through time using a microwave developed by him and his friends. Because of this invention, they are forever being hunted by the ominous "Organisation."

Visually, the game looks nice. The graphics are sharp and the music is pretty up-tempo, and if anime is your bag, then you're going to be swell. For those who maybe haven't stepped into the world of over-sexualised pre-teens and a script that reads like it was written via a 4chan groupthink, this might not be the easiest gateway introduction. All of the typical anime tropes are here in full swing; clever but emotionally cold teenage girl, young and ditzy but "cute" pre-pubescent girl, and male characters that either have inferiority complexes due to being overweight or otaku, or who think that everyone else is beneath them.

Screenshot for Steins;Gate on PC

The writing tries far too hard to be funny and lands on the shockingly perverse and creepy. Young girls speaking in innuendo to grown men might be funny to some, but, along with the unlikeable characters, comes off as unsophisticated and crude. Steins;Gate also has the obligatory ultra-awkward dating/groping simulation added in for good measure, just in case innuendo isn't enough for you.

Like a deliberately damning indictment on modern life, the only interaction found in this game is through the character's mobile phone. You can read and reply to text messages, make phone calls, or ignore everything completely, all of which quite nicely can change the future direction of the story. There are a couple of amusing fourth wall-breaking moments, although having to endlessly click through the philosophical ramblings from the protagonist, the likes of which GCSE philosophy students will cringe at, doesn't feel worth the trade.

Screenshot for Steins;Gate on PC

Cubed3 Rating

2/10
Rated 2 out of 10

Very Bad

For newcomers to the genre, Steins;Gate is a total snooze-fest. For fans of visual novels, caution is still issued. Good music, a variety of endings, pop culture references, and nice stills cannot gloss over the terrible writing, dreary pseudo-academia, clichéd characters, and the overall abhorrent awkwardness of the game, which takes far too long to actually get interesting in the first place. An interesting concept that probably makes for a better anime than a game.

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   

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