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April 8, 2016

Reviews: Steins;Gate (Vita)

Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward gave me a strong introduction to the world of Japanese visual novel adventure games. While I had long been aware of visual novels like this, none of them really grabbed my attention. Finding that I simply can’t wait for Zero Time Dilemma (the conclusion of the trilogy) to get my next fix I decided to take a shot at Steins;Gate since almost every conversation swings back to it being the defining title for the genre. While originally released on the XBox 360 in Japan, it has gone on to be released on other platforms and spun off anime, manga and a sequel that I hope to be able to play some time. For this review I played the Vita release.

If you’re looking for a great read, Steins;Gate has you covered. Unlike most of the games in the genre which are more akin to a Choose Your Own Adventure story, Steins;Gate doesn’t have bad endings. Just different endings…

The story is riveting and very hard-core science fiction on the topic of time-travel. It also deals with topics of identity and relationships. No puzzles. Just branching story elements that lead you to one ending or another. Also the story may seem slow to start but as you get into it you realize you’ve been getting critical plot elements right from the beginning. Then throw in a smörgåsbord of hacking and Otaku cultural references along with a dose of heavy innuendo to keep you snickering. Did I mention the story is really great?

I know that purist are going to hate me for this but I enjoy games like this with a good spoiler free branching guide at my side while I play in order to experience all of the story arcs and endings without having to take away from the experience by thrashing around, wasting hours on repeating things I’ve already read. These guides take the form of “At this prompt, Save and pick X for ending #3 or Y for ending #5, reload from here to resume to the ending you didn’t watch” with no context so you really need to be reading the story and paying attention, but this saves you time at guessing where the critical forks are. I know for some people that’s part of the experience, but I’ve got a life and I’m just here to read the full story. Yes, I could simply watch a video but that’s really just not the same.

The bottom line is if you like this genre and you haven’t played this game yet then YOU GO, YOU GO NOW.

Next up… the Corpse Party series (PSP/Vita)… we’ll see how that goes unless Zero Time Dilemma comes out first… or I break down and watch the Steins;Gate anime. Much dilemma.

Lotus hacking

Junpei in awe of Lotus the supa hacka from 999.