Author’s Note: The PlayStation 4 version of Steins; Gate Elite was reviewed here so I will not be talking about the bonus 8bit adventure included in the Switch edition. I will also avoid spoilers.
|February 19th, 2019
|PS4, Switch, PC
So we’re back with a new Steins;Gate adventure, well kind of. Steins;Gate Elite is the latest version of the popular Visual Novel. What makes this edition special is that it is ENTIRELY animated in the style of the also popular anime adaptation.
Steins;Gate follows the antics of self-proclaimed “Mad Scientist” Okabe Rintaro who goes by the name Houhouhin Kyoma. He begins to learn about the possibility of time travel after going to a seminar at a convention. Initially he isn’t convinced, but eventually begins to realize the possibility of it and even manages to “accidentally” create a time machine. But little as he knows, his actions with it will have serious consequences that affect him and those close to him. Even though Steins;Gate has been around for quite some time and I’m sure many of you have either read the original Visual Novel or watched the solid anime adaptation by this point. But as stated above, I will refrain from spoiling it here because it is a story well worth experiencing on your own, especially since the events will lead into Steins;Gate 0 which in some ways is an even more compelling story. I enjoyed it so much, that I and reviewed it twice.
Steins;Gate Elite is almost the same as the previous version of the game even right down the the in game music. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since the original, had a very varied soundtrack that perfectly conveyed the situations the characters found themselves in. You had your more comical tunes for the lighthearted moments and more intense music for those moments where you know something crazy is about to happen. And believe me there is plenty of “crazy” to be had here. Some fans of the original visual novel may lament the change in art style, but to be honest I found the way it was implemented here to be quite fascinating. It’s different than what you typically see in the genres where characters are usually static with a handful of facial expressions or poses that get shown when appropriate. In Steins;Gate Elite, outside of specific CGs, everything is in motion and surprisingly in sync with the text. The quality of the animation is top notch and really brings the characters to life and, dare I say, makes certain scenes a lot more engaging. The animated adaptation of Steins;Gate, while definitely serviceable by its own merits, does leave out some story branches from the original visual novel. So seeing some of those animated for the first time in the same style of the anime was actually really cool and made this feel like an even more complete experience than watching the anime.
The HUD and menus have been revamped as well and they look fantastic, very stylish and easy to read and use, making this a very smooth experience. Of course features such as skip, auto read, or hiding the text box and options for text speed are still there, so you can tailor the experience to your liking. The main gameplay element of the original Steins;Gate consisted of you bringing up your phone at various moments to answer texts you receive from the other characters. Replying to these emails will trigger other story branches and in some cases determine whether or not you are getting a particular ending. These “Phone Triggers” were streamlined in this release. The game will automatically stop and bring up the phone as soon as you get one, which means you won’t miss a message that was important. Unfortunately this means that you can’t bring up the phone manually or gain new wallpapers, attachments or ringtones. With that said, getting the True Ending is still a rather long process where you have to send very specific messages at various points in the story starting from chapter 4 all the way until the end at chapter 10. Making separate saves in addition to the game’s automatic quick saves is highly recommended.
If you bought Steins;Gate Elite on the PS4 you’ll get a bonus spinoff called Linear Bounded Phenogram that follows several stories featuring the various characters in Steins;Gate. Linear Bounded Phenogram gives you access to various stories set in different “World lines” taking place both during and after the original story. Some of them are downright ridiculous but others are in line with what Steins;Gate established in its setting and cast. If you ever wanted to see Okabe don a giant Alpaca outfit and attempt to fight crime in Akiba, then you’re going to love this! Unlike Elite, the graphics and visuals are done in the same style as the original Visual Novel, so it feels more like an extension of that. Really Linear Bounded Phenogram is for fans of the original Visual Novel who wanted to spend an extra 10 hours or so with these characters. There are 11 scenarios altogether and each character has a moment to shine in it too.
Steins;Gate Elite is for people who have either never experienced Steins;Gate before, people who have never read a Visual Novel, were turned off by their lack of animation or those who want to experience the story in a slightly different way. If you find the anime visuals to be too off-putting, then the original Visual Novel is available on PC, PS3 and the PlayStation Vita. Not only are those available both in physical and digital format, but they are also cheaper than this new $59.99 release. However if you have played the original and are curious about Linear Bounded Phenogram, then you should consider checking this release out as well. No matter which version of Steins;Gate you experience, you’re in for a hell of a ride that can last you a solid 30 hours or more if you try and get every single ending or route.
Review copy provided by the publisher