Steins;Gate Image
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87

Generally favorable reviews - based on 6 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 111 Ratings

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  • Summary: Set in Akihabara, the Mecca of Japanese anime culture, Steins;Gate follows a group of friends who accidentally invent a method of sending messages to the past. Their discovery drags them into a world of conspiracy and shifting timelines where the push of a button can change the course of history.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. Apr 18, 2014
    100
    Making excellent use of the visual novel medium to tell its story, Steins;Gate is a beautifully crafted piece of interactive fiction that blends character drama, sci-fi and critique of popular culture into a compelling and memorable whole.
  2. Oct 17, 2014
    91
    Steins;Gate is one of the finest visual novels translated to date. If you are a fan of Japanese culture and/or time travel plots, you will love this game.
  3. Jul 23, 2014
    90
    What visual novel Steins;Gate lacks in gameplay it certainly makes up for with one of the best, most complex and most touching stories I have experienced in video games. It centers around a few youths in Tokyo who accidentally invents a machine that can send messages back in time. The mix of science fiction and drama is further lifted by its memorable characters, in part thanks to good Japanese voice actors. On the negative side, the rare parts of interaction among all text boxes feel a bit illogical at times, some of the characters are less memorable and there is a little bit of unnecessary fan service. These things will hardly be on the mind of anyone getting into the story though.
  4. Apr 22, 2014
    89
    Steins;Gate is one of the best visual novels translated into the English language.
  5. Apr 7, 2014
    80
    Steins;Gate is one of the best visual novels on the market.
  6. Apr 16, 2014
    80
    Steins;Gate is a taxing game, but it's also quite beautiful, from the talented Japanese voice cast (no English dub, unfortunately) to artist huke's unorthodox visuals. It's an exemplary visual novel with a thrilling premise, memorable characters, and a fantastic "true" ending that may very well move you to tears.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 1 out of 8
  1. May 6, 2014
    10
    From the once not so successful studio 5pb. Comes a time travel story that has an average plot hole of '1'. That's right every aspect is soFrom the once not so successful studio 5pb. Comes a time travel story that has an average plot hole of '1'. That's right every aspect is so beautifully crafted and linked together working so coherently well, It's no wonder the anime adaptation rightfully earned its place on top of the main Animenewsnetwork top leaderboard, unique characters, amazing voice acting, immersive story and only a single thorn I mentioned, which surprisingly doesn't come from the physics and all the explained science, but rather a, quite stupid mistake on writers part on the gender change of Rukako by a message to the pager, AFTER she was conceived. Expand
  2. Apr 25, 2014
    10
    It has a very deep and intellectual storyline that's not hard to follow and most of all it's got a fully fledged cast of voice actors,It has a very deep and intellectual storyline that's not hard to follow and most of all it's got a fully fledged cast of voice actors, Japanese of course, but why would you want this dubbed? It's got the English text, so it's nice to have the original game maintained in terms of the voice. No technical problems and the story is, again, fantastic.

    The menus are very simple and use friendly, as is the game interface overall. I haven't had any problems or glitches thus far and I doubt anyone may. Not much else to say.

    As far as the story is concerned, it's complicated. It's not to the point where the everyday person would be sitting back and scratching their head, but it's where it will make you feel smart for understanding it. Every twist and turn draws you in and makes you want more. I got around 40 hours out of this, with people getting closer to 50. With the mix of sci-fi elements, drama, and modern pop-culture thrown in too, this storyline is as close to perfect as we can get.

    The visuals themselves are fairly impressive. The artists could not have outdone themselves more. Combined with the story and music, this could possibly move people to tears.

    I would recommend this to anyone looking for a superb visual novel.
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  3. May 24, 2014
    10
    Without exaggeration, this is the greatest VN game of all time. On top of that, you would be very hard-pressed to find an anime that comparesWithout exaggeration, this is the greatest VN game of all time. On top of that, you would be very hard-pressed to find an anime that compares in all-around quality and greatness as the anime adaptation of this game. Expand
  4. Jul 7, 2014
    10
    This game was everything I could hope for in an English translation. The text was very well written, and I'm really glad that they chose toThis game was everything I could hope for in an English translation. The text was very well written, and I'm really glad that they chose to just do subtitles over the original voice acting, which is excellent. The storyline is very original, and absolutely brilliant. You know that you have experienced truly great fiction when finishing the story feels like saying goodbye to people that you know and love. Expand
  5. May 3, 2014
    10
    Story - Some of the best writing and storytelling I have ever experienced in a video game, or any medium for that matter, even rivalling theStory - Some of the best writing and storytelling I have ever experienced in a video game, or any medium for that matter, even rivalling the best sci-fi narratives in movies, books, and television. Unlike most shallow sci-fi stories, Steins Gate is hard science-fiction, which goes into detail on how the science works. However, a lot of hard sci-fi usually suffer from being convoluted or lacking characterization. Steins Gate strikes a great balance, dealing with many current scientific theories in an understandable and digestible way without becoming convoluted, yet this never gets in the way of the amazing characterization. The plot twists are also very well-done. Unlike a lot of sci-fi plot twists, the plot twists in Steins Gate don't come from nowhere, but are always foreshadowed and well-explained within the context of the narrative. And because of the strong characterization, making you care for the characters, the story always packs a powerful emotional punch.

    Characterization - This is where Steins Gate truly shines. The cast of characters are very well-written and memorable. The star of the show is Okabe, a self-proclaimed "mad scientist" and one of the most likeable protagonists I've ever come across. At first he comes across as being arrogant and delusional, but as we listen to this thoughts, he comes across as a well-developed, three-dimensional person, with human flaws and anxieties beyond his arrogant and quirky exterior. The lead female character Kurisu is also very well-written. She's a mentally strong character, with an intellect rivalling Okabe, and has a well-developed, three-dimensional personality. And unlike a lot of female characters in video games, there's no "male gaze" sexualization to her character design. The relationship and banter between Okabe and Makise is also immensely enjoyable. The supporting cast are also well-developed and likeable in their own ways, including the naive childhood friend Mayuri, the Otaku nerd Daru, the fake "moe" character Faris, the landlord Mr. Braun, the part-time "warrior" Suzuha, etc. Steins Gate makes you care for the characters, adding a great deal of emotional weight to the story.

    Gameplay - This is where some of the more traditional gamers might have an issue, but something most visual novel fans should be used to. Like most visual novels, you'll be spending a lot of time reading, with the gameplay mostly limited to making decisions that impact the narrative flow. And like most visual novels, the decisions you make have a big impact on how the story unfolds. Unlike most RPG's where the choices usually have very little impact on how the story unfolds, the choices in visual novels like Steins Gate can have major unforeseen consequences and lead you down different narrative paths. Compared to our average visual novel, however, Steins Gate adds more interactivity with Okabe's cell phone, which becomes is a kind of time-texting device in the story. This is where you make your choices, with the way you use your cell phone affecting how the story unfolds, whether it's deciding whether to answer calls or read text messages, or how you choose to respond to calls and messages. This innovative gameplay mechanic helps give the game more interactivity than what you'd find in your average visual novel.

    Visuals - The visuals in Steins Gate are unique and original. The dark tones, the water-colour art, and the grimy look, all give the game a dark, unique feel. It's also refreshing that, unlike most anime and visual novels, there isn't much pretty-boy "androgyny" to the male characters (except for Luka, in a subversive way), nor is there much "male gaze" sexualization to the female characters (except for Faris, but still toned-down). The most unique aspect of the character design is the eyes, which have a swirly hypnotic look to them, adding to the game's dark mood. Overall, the art-work is very impressive.

    Audio - This is something that visual novels (also called "sound novels") usually excel at, and Steins Gate is better than most. While the voices are only in Japanese, the voice acting is excellent. The voice actors did a great job at portraying the characters, perfectly capturing the personalities, tones, expressions, and emotions. The sound effects are also put to great use, with the right sound effects at the right moments. And the music does a great job of capturing the right mood at the right times.

    Pros - The writing, storytelling, and characterization, are some of the best I've seen in any medium, let alone video games. The visuals and audio are excellent. The gameplay, revolving around a time-texting cell phone, is also unique.

    Cons - The gameplay is somewhat limited compared to your average video game. There's a lot of reading, for those not used to reading.

    Overall - Steins Gate is a masterpiece.
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  6. May 18, 2014
    9
    It's a good game that everyone should try it out at least. Time travelling plot line always has its contradictions with the state of realityIt's a good game that everyone should try it out at least. Time travelling plot line always has its contradictions with the state of reality but the game has managed to explain the circumstances with fun scientific exploration with suspenseful story. Characters are okay; just not the best interaction that I'd have hoped for. Expand
  7. Jul 26, 2014
    9
    The one qualm I have with this game is how many will regard it as inaccessible, and if you're wondering if this game is for you, I suggestThe one qualm I have with this game is how many will regard it as inaccessible, and if you're wondering if this game is for you, I suggest reading the last paragraph of this review.

    The storyline has its quirks that are hard to swallow, incorporating a dense amount of memes from the fringe cultures of Akihabara/Japan and the stranger parts of the internet. The main character himself suffers from a childish delusion the Japanese label "chuunibyou," or "8th grade syndrome," and many readers will take some time to adjust to it. The time machine central to the plot is also banking a lot on the reader suspending their disbelief in that it could be created at all.

    Those that do penetrate deep into the story will find that the story is able to turn these quirks into strengths. Over time, we're able to laugh at the ridiculous aspects of these fringe cultures the main characters are obsessed with. Particularly, the story also takes great care in approaching the time machine. Their stringent application of justifications for, and limitations on, the machine both work well within the plot and help it stay within the realm of belief. The main character deserves a special mention, especially for the track record main characters tend to have in visual novels, even amongst the "serious" ones (like S;G). The character's "8th grade syndrome" goes from bizarre to endearing, and floors us when we realize the gravitas of him adopting (and later shedding) this habit.

    Once the story is fully underway, we go through a series of acts that all embody a different problem under common themes. We find out that a calamity will befall the human race, and that we bear responsibility in bringing it about. At the end of these pivotal acts, the game asks us if we're ready to sacrifice the emotional progress we've made with our friends, if we're ready to undo the progress they make against their own sad fates, for the good of many more. We find out that even when we seem to take steps in the right directions, we may be making things worse.

    Beyond its core philosophy, there's also a certain level of mystery to the visual novel. There are many details and hints that we're encouraged to look out for, such as "Who is John Titor, and why did they appear in year xxxx?," "How will Y's strengths influence the plot?," "At what point did I notice Z happening?" Those of us that continue asking ourselves these questions and keep our observations in mind will find themselves very satisfied with the plot, for how it rewards our vigilance and how it also seems to have thought through (almost!) every possibility.

    Regarding length, be aware that it took me 32 hours to reach my first ending (the first available ending in Chapter 6 out of the 10). Total time to reach and read through each of the endings, all the way until the "True" one, was about 54 hours. The length is both the bane and boon of this game, as many will want something they can blow through quickly (if this is you, find a guide and search the instructions for going through the True route). For those that play these games to lose themselves in another world and grow so close to the characters that they begin to feel like actual friends, this is a must play for you. I highly recommend that completionists save the True route for last.

    Accessibility is my main qualm with this series. As I mentioned earlier, the main character and story will be hard to adjust to if the reader is not well-acquainted with the fringe culture it draws from. The main character's childish delusion, or "8th grade syndrome / chuunibyou," isn't as commented on in Western culture as it is in Japan. We're familiar with the concept; the strange mixture of unjustified self-confidence born from the delusions of a middle school kid too deep in fiction to tell the difference. That said, it can be JARRING to see that our main character is 18 years old and exhibiting the same behavior, and how it reflects in both his dialogue and inner monologues. The references to 2channel (or @channel in the S;G universe) will be lost on many, and the particular language exhibited on there can be either confusing, offensive, or alienating (many references to Jojo's Bizarre Adventure ahead). In short, your mileage here will vary greatly. The story does do a good job of keeping us hooked, but I'd be lying to say that many readers from a broader interest group won't have to drag themselves through the first few chapters. JAST's translation of the work is FANTASTIC, though, and if you don't want to take the short cut to experiencing Steins;Gate (by watching the anime), I do recommend experiencing the visual novel for its 40+ hours of nail-biting, emotional, philosophical glory. Also, many will see the references in S;G to an earlier work, called Chaos;Head. You do not need to have watched C;H to enjoy S;G. In fact, I highly discourage watching C;H because, frankly, it's a trainwreck and will only tarnish your expectations for S;G.
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