FEATURE: "Steins;Gate" Review

Time travel, redhead scientists, off-brand Dr. Pepper... oh, and by the way, HE'S A GUY

I think it's kind of unfair to treat visual novels the same way video games get treated--games are by and large about rules and competition (even in single-player games, where you're trying to beat the system), while visual novels are more about experiencing a story and getting taken for a ride. Sure, there are a few small choices, but it's not quite like Telltale's games where your choices can have immediate and game-changing consequences--the VN's creators usually have a story they want to tell you. It's closer to watching a movie or series that gives you a little bit of input along the way.

 

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That said, Steins;Gate--as a visual novel--is a pretty fresh experience for someone who'd only watched the anime, like me. There's more detail and care given to characterization, to Hououin Okabe's thoughts on characters and situations, and to the sheer horror of when things go wrong. Despite my complete disinterest in using John Titor's "prophecies" as a plot device, there's a reason Steins;Gate is so popular--it's actually a pretty damn good sci-fi story when it wants to be.

 

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Of course, this doesn't mean Steins;Gate is perfect. The game knows its audience, with a delusional, condescending dickhead of a main character (can't tell you how many guys like this I've run into at cons) and a story that doesn't hesitate to get creepy and pandering every now and then. Thankfully, Okabe grows and matures (sort of) and the real focus is on telling you a tale of time travellers and store-brand Dr. Pepper. Even with the standard anime hijinx, there's a palpable feeling of dread looming over the whole thing, making it worth it to sit through Okabe's contant monologuing.

 

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Steins;Gate presents a fresh way to experience this story, but don't expect a full "game" experience. Watch some a lot of cutscenes, enjoy the voice acting and music, and take in the stunning artwork by huke while responding to a text every now and then. It's not a one-track ride, either, with multiple endings and some pretty surprising twists, so it actually has replay (rewatch?) value. But don't just take my word for it!

 

REVIEW ROUNDUP

+ Stunning art and great soundtrack

+ Lengthy, and a surprising amount of replay value

+/- Good story with sometimes irritating writing

- Okabe is by and far one of the most genuinely unlikeable protagonists I've had the displeasure of following/playing as

 

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Hey, everyone--Bjaker here, back for another game review. This time, we're taking a look at the recently-released VN of Steins;Gate. I'm probably going to lose a little credibility here--I haven't seen Steins;Gate. I didn't even know the premise before tackling the game! However, I think this is actually good for review purposes.

 

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I'm a pretty big sci-fi fan, so when given the gist of the game I was super excited. Rolling in on modern-day Tokyo, we're hanging out with an attractive girl, a super-secret organization is after us... cool, rad things all around! And then I really start listening to what the main character is saying.

 

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Holy... can we please get a silent protagonist? Actually, it seems like all of the characters are pretty average tropes for the genre. However, the art is amazing, the music is really good, and if I can manage to half-ignore the dialogue, things are okay.

 

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WE F**KING GET IT, YOU'RE AS REPETITIVE AS A TAYLOR SWIFT SONG

 

I really don't want to say much more because I do feel like the story is worth experiencing, however, it's often handled in a pretty sophomoric voice. Yes... I do understand that "He's a guy." Ultimately, whether it's your first exposure to the universe of Steins;Gate or even a visual novel, I'd say this one is pretty worthwhile!


REVIEW ROUNDUP

+ References to real-life weird people like John Titor

+ The art is really, really pretty

+ Soundtrack is also really great!

+ He's a guy.

+/- The ability to deviate the story is minimal.

- Really made me miss having a protagonist like Link

- Actual gameplay comes down to a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure... could have been a little more creative here

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