The Visual Novel that Strikes the Heart

If story is king, then Steins Gate is an avenue that you should take a stroll down. It’s an adventure based on time travel and how everything is interconnected. This game is about the characters and how they interact with one another. I’ve never been enthralled by a simple premise – send communication to the past and how wildly that one concept threw me through a plethora of heart-wrenching plot twists and captivating character moments. With the sequel coming out next month (September 27th), Steins Gate is a complex experience that demands your attention.

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I use the word experience here, because that’s what it is at its core. Stein’s Gate is a visual novel. This means it’s a story first and foremost and game play mechanics are far from what this game strives for. This is about a story that needs to be told and you get to decide the fate of how you want it to unfold. Its something I look for in games – options. Steins Gate is exactly that – a story with six different endings and you get to choose your path with your phone!

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The power of your phone holds no bounds!

Yes, you read that correctly – your choices of what ending you get in this game comedown to how you reply to your messages. Periodically you will get messages from the characters you interact with. When opening the messages you will be prompted to pick a response on how to reply. Not all emails have these, but some have up to four different responses. There are also other pivotal scenes where you can choose not to do a certain action and then you’re left to simmer with the consequences.

It took me around twenty-one hours to get to my first ending. I knew it wasn’t the final one for I had missed plenty of trophies and noticed that I only made it to chapter 6. You can miss a significant portion of the game depending on the choices you make. Thankfully this game has an auto-skip of all scenes that you’ve witnessed and stops at scenes that you’ve never seen before (including stopping every time you get a message on your phone).

So there isn’t much of a game to this game – its more an experience. Why is that experience worth it – the characters and plot. The main protagonist, Okabe, runs a future gadget lab and wants to bring chaos to the world – an over the top guy who says the strangest things that just makes you laugh. Case and point this screenshot:

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Seriously who wrote this off the wall stuff it’s amazing

Okabe or Kyouma Hououin, his mad scientist alter ego, recruits and meets highly varied characters throughout this tale. Seeing his interactions with the others around him are worth picking up this game alone. Seeing the slow creation of building a device that can communicate with the past is enticing and had me wanting to get to the next scene and the next there after. Witty banter fills the voids as filler, but I don’t think it ever distracts from the main plot. While you’re seeing the everyday routines of our characters, you’re growing with the characters and their relationships. It makes it much more gut-retching when the consequences of what they are doing in the lab come to fruition. It gets dark, unexpectedly dark, and I love it for that. The choices bear down on you as much they do for the characters in the story – you can feel the emotions.

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I cried during this game – an almost thirty year old blubbering like a fool. I was that invested in this world and that’s why I’m writing this article. This experience had more of an impact on me than I ever thought it could. I love these type of games, but this was by far the one that hit me in the feels more than anything previously. I laughed, freaked out, clenched my teeth, and even was disgusted that  I was thinking some of the same things as  the main character during certain endings.

Going into the game you have to know that it’s all in Japanese voices (fantastically done acting if I do say so myself). Also there is an anime, which I’ve only started watching, that you could also look into. Obviously the game goes more in depth with having alternate endings and the choices, but the anime another option to experience the story  (which does have an English Dub that’s well done).

I spent thirty-three and half hours getting every ending for this game. It’s a time investment, but to me worth every hour. I can’t wait to play the sequel.

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This one’s worth the look.

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