Steins;Gate 0 is a visual novel that continues a branching story from the original Steins;Gate, which was released back in 2009 for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. It was quite surprising to see a Western release so soon after the Japanese release of the title. Even though it has been eleven months since Japan saw the game released, it’s better than the six years we had to wait for the original game to get localized here in the West. This is a testament to how visual novels are gaining ground and popularity here in the West as they offer a different style of storytelling not many people are accustomed to.
Game Name: Steins;Gate 0
Platform(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Playstation 3, PSVita, PC
Publishers: 5pb (Japan), PQube (North America)
Developers: 5pb, Nitroplus
Release Date: November 29, 2016
Steins;Gate 0 takes place at the end of the original series. As a quick recap… in the original Steins;Gate, Okabe fails to save Kurisu Makise and, through this failure, is finally able to discern the video message he received on his phone. The message was from a himself at age 30 where he explains how to save Kurisu which would, in turn, allow him to reach the Steins;Gate world line. This is wonderful and all, but the question of “how did Okabe know all of this in order to send the solution to his past self?” was never really answered This is where Steins;Gate 0 comes in.
In order to succeed, one may fail and fail often. That is a basic rule in the scientific community and Okabe, being a mad scientist himself, had to have failed before he succeeded. In Steins;Gate 0, we experience the world line where Okabe failed to save Kurisu. Okabe becomes a shell of his former self as he abandons his mad scientist persona in an effort to go back to living a normal life. That changes when he attends a lecture by a professor named Dr. Leskinen. Dr. Leskinen works at the university that Kurisu Makise studied at and this intrigues Okabe.
Dr. Leskinen and his assistant, Maho Hiyajo, are carrying on Kurisu’s work involving transcribing human memories into computer data in order to back up our memories on a digital platform. This research also gave birth to a super advanced A.I. known as Amadeus. Okabe soon discovers that Kurisu had volunteered herself during initial testing and has been preserved as part of the Amadeus program, but she doesn’t have any memories of Okabe since all of her memories were recorded before she went on her trip to Japan.
As similar to the first Steins;Gate, your actions will determine which route you follow throughout the story. You can change your route by interacting with your cell phone’s RINE application when prompted to on screen. This allows you to send text messages to other characters in the game, which can and will change the outcome of several events. This leads to multiple endings with one (like with most visual novels) being considered the true end.
In fact, Steins;Gate 0 is comprised of fourteen different sections that can produce a total of six different endings. This allows for a high amount of replayability as you can go back and experience all of the different branching paths. If you don’t want to play the game over from scratch for each path, the game offers up a generous amount of save file slots in which you can save your progress at pivotal points. The game also comes with fast forwarding and auto skip features to glance over parts of the story you may have already experienced.
The artwork in Steins;Gate 0 is really well done. Everything from the stunning backgrounds to the character designs just pop out at you and takes, what is normally, a flat 2D scene and brings it to life. If you haven’t played a visual novel before, this is pretty much what you can expect from any VN game you decide to pick up. Even though the character designs are well-done, you can expect the game to play dress up with them often. The game does this by taking the same character poses and adds new clothing to them to fit each situation; all of which are very well-designed and distinguished.
On the sound front, we only get Japanese as an audio option, but even though that is the case, the voice acting is superb as the original cast return to reprise their roles! The subtitles negate the fact that they are speaking Japanese and if you haven’t really experienced Japanese voice acting, then this should only be a bonus for you. The OST only contains a handful of tracks and they are repeated often. This would typically be a downside; however, the music that we get is so well-composed that you actually look forward to hearing those tracks get repeated. The tracks also stick around just long enough to where you won’t get burned out from listening to them so there is a nice balance with the limited selection of audio.
Kanako Itou is back to sing the visual novel’s title theme “Amadeus.” She also worked on the previous visual novel with her song “Skyclad no Kansokusha” as well as the television anime adaptation with her song “Hacking to the Gate.” It just wouldn’t be Steins;Gate without her so I’m happy to see her return and deliver another phenomenal song that just fits the series so well!
*Steins;Gate 0 was provided to us for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guildeline/Scoring Policy.
In the end, I cannot recommend this game enough. The story is extremely engaging and written intelligently. Much like the previous installment, they handle the notion of time travel and its consequences with great care. Nothing about it seems too far-fetched, either. The series does detract from the humorous tone that it once had, though, but I’m not complaining about it one bit. The darker, serious tone still allows for some light-hearted moments, but when the drama kicks in, it does so in a way that makes you want to pay attention and keep pressing forward.
Fans of the series will instantly love this and while it is not really required to have played the first game, you would be doing yourself a huge disservice if you skipped over it.
- Well-written and engaging story
- Amazing new characters
- Great soundtrack and voice acting
- Multiple branching paths that keep you coming back for more
- Soundtrack is a bit limited
- Character poses are recycled a lot
- No English dub