Visual novels, why do we even class them as games.
Stein’s Gate Elite is essentially a remaster of the original title. Unlike most remasters that take ugly polygons and turns them into gorgeous looking 3D models, Steins Gate takes still art from the original game and swaps it out for animated art taken from the anime that was made.
Stein’s Gate is an interesting story that tackles themes of morality. Ask yourself this, if you could change the past would you? Or have you seen enough back to the future that you know it won’t end well?
Stein’s Gate is all about this. As the story unfolds you have the ability to send messages into the past to try to alter the flow of the future (remember these text messages as I’ll go back to this later). As you would expect with the hindsight of having seen films like butterfly effect or bill and ted, one small change in the past regardless of how inconsequential it seems it can have massive effects on the future. Before long each little change starts to unravel your reality like a cat playing with a ball of yarn.
Without getting into specifics (its a 100% story based game so I can hardly run down the story and spoil it) the story will test your morality by allowing you to make choices via your phone that will affect you or the people around you and it’s all about putting you into positions where you have to chose to help yourself and dick over the people around you and watch the consequences play out. It doesn’t help that the main character is the only person that remembers the old reality (or alternate reality) meaning he can be quite the tortured soul.
There are a few endings available that are dictated by the choices you make and obviously you will get to see new bits of animation play out so there is a bit of replay value to be had there for people that want to see all the different story variations.
Stein’s Gate is a great story, in fact, quite a lot of times you will see it high on lists of the best anime to watch. That’s kinda why I don’t see the point in this version of the game. At its core it’s a story, not a game, the original Steins Gate was so popular and good they made an anime, now they have taken that anime and turned it back into a game. But this just leads to you watching the anime at a slower pace but with the upshot of very limited input into the story (although there is still a true ending that’s considered canon, basically the animes ending).
That leaves me wondering what’s the point in this version of the game, realistically you can enjoy the same story experience for part of your Netflix sub (its on there both dub and sub, the game is Japanese audio only) you are seeing the same art and voice acting (if you watch the sub) so you are not really gaining anything by opting for this over the anime.
Now I think the developers realised this and as a result on the PS4 version they have included Steins Gate Linear Bounded Phenogram which is a full game with around 30 hours of story that focuses on the side characters from the main game. It was previously only available in Japan and this edition is the only way for fans to get their hands on it. Strange they decided to add no trophy list to it though as the original had a list, that will no doubt disappoint some people, but to most this will be a new experience in the steins gate world. If you buy the title on Switch you get an 8 Bit steins gate game that I don’t know much about but thought it was worth mentioning for the switch fans.
Stein’s Gate is a good title don’t get me wrong, I just find it hard to call these titles games. Really when a game makes Telltale’s Walking Dead look like it’s dripping with gameplay you know there is not much going on in that department. So it ultimately comes down to how you want to take in the story.
If you would rather kick back and chill just watch it on Netflix. If you enjoy pressing ‘x’ a lot then play the game. My score is based on the story as it’s all there really is to judge.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*