Have you ever wondered what would happen if time traveling became a reality? How would the world change? Steins;Gate lets us explore some of these possibilities.
Leading up to playing Steins;Gate I’d only heard of it in passing. Of course, this hearing of it in passing was me hearing just how good it was. Well, I finally got the chance to play it, and well it’s true – Steins;Gate is really good.
You are Okabe Rintaro – I mean Hououin Kyouma – a college student living in Japan. You are the founder of Future Gadget Laboratory, and with your friends, you work to create devices that are well… not that useful really. At least they weren’t until now, when you accidentally discover your latest gadget can perform time travel. And now your life is about to get a whole lot more complicated.
I won’t lie – Steins;Gate is extremely slow to start. I wasn’t that hooked on it for the first chapter or two. Once it gets going though, you’ll want to see it through to the end. That’s because once it gets going, it gets really good. Yes, it starts out extremely confusing. Yes, you’ll probably want to punch your character in the face a few times. I’d be surprised if you didn’t want to. Stick through the slow and confusing start though – it’s more than worth it.
Steins;Gate, on the surface, is a straightforward visual novel. There are no direct choices to be made in the dialogue. Instead, you’ll have what are called phone triggers. Your choices here, whether it’s how you respond or if you even interact with them, are what change the story through your choice. Several unlockables are available through these choices, so explore! See what response you get!
With the choices available to you, these will also change the ending you get. There are several available as you progress, and should you choose the right options in certain phone triggers along the way, you’ll get the true ending. I haven’t actually obtained the true ending yet, but I plan to go back very soon to get it.
Sometimes trying to get to make these choices can be a bit rough. Of the few issues I found with Steins;Gate, this was one of them. If you’re replaying through a scene and trying to use Skip or the forced forward option, it doesn’t stop for most phone triggers. Namely, the ones that happen when you receive an email. If you miss the opportunity to reply to these, the options will not be there and you can no longer reply to that email. This gets really awkward with using Skip as some times when I was trying to use it, it didn’t want to turn off and I’d massively overshoot receiving an email. EDIT: Going back, it’s now working properly and turning off. When I was working with it prior to writing (without changing any settings), it hadn’t worked. Not sure what happened.
Another issue I had with Steins;Gate is that if you progress a line before they finish speaking, they continue speaking until either the line finishes or someone else speaks. This can start to get a bit weird when someone speaks right before a fade out scene and they end up talking for quite some time after they should have finished. Almost every other VN I’ve played with voice acting makes the voice stop when the line is gone, so this was a bit weird for me. EDIT: It’s been pointed out that there was a part of the options I missed that makes this not be the case. I wasn’t aware of it at the time of review, but now I do know. It would have been nice if it had been set so that they stop when the line was cleared by default though.
The general writing is really good in Steins;Gate. I did notice a few errors here and there such as a word placed where it shouldn’t be. The writing will get you attached to these characters though, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself getting emotional during certain scenes. As I said before, it is extremely confusing for the first couple chapters and you’ll likely want to punch your character, but stick through it. Even if the story is confusing, the writing is still really good and will get you thinking.
Steins;Gate is one of the best visual novels I’ve played, albeit with a couple issues. It’s also not short – it took me around 30 hours to play through it and I’ve still got stuff to unlock, including the True Ending. If you’re a fan of visual novels, you really need to go play Steins;Gate now. Unless, of course, you have something against time travel stories and some awkward perverted moments from characters. The issues can be overlooked generally though (just leave a save at any major decision point if you can, so you don’t miss them), as Steins;Gate is exceptionally good.
Steins;Gate Review Score
This review is based off of the North American PS3 version. I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.