Time is fragile, continually ticking away with no chance to pause or have a retry, that is unless you have a time machine. Steins;Gate 0 is a visual novel developed by 5pb. And Nitroplus, it is a follow-up to Steins;Gate which released in 2009.
What would you do if you had the chance to have another go at history, get the opportunity to save someone you loved, you would go for it right? What if I told you to save the one that died, your closest and longest friend would have to die in their place? Not so easy then, that’s the very question that faces Rintaro Okabe the main protagonist. Rintaro currently residing in the Beta worldline has failed to save Kurisu the woman he loves, instead accidentally killing her, this causes him to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD for short, it’s believed that Kurisu died so that Mayuri could live, Mayuri being Rintaro’s childhood friend. Since the incident the protagonist refused to go back in time ever again, claiming it to be futile and that he couldn’t let his best friend die, meanwhile it was Suzuha’s mission to ensure that he does, this story is filled with conflict, war and sadness, but also shows the strength in friendship and love.
The entire game is a single player journey in which you experience the story from the different character’s perspectives, piecing everything together to get the full picture. This instalment introduces the “RINE Trigger” system, in which you can now respond to text messages, call other characters and access Amadeus using Rintaro’s smartphone. Throughout each chapter you will come across various moments in which you will either receive a message or be contacted by another character, using your phone is vital to ensuring you unlock new story paths in hopes to receive each of the ending’s that this visual novel has to offer, remember to respond to your messages and call your friends when you can.
The vast majority of gameplay sees you just clicking X and reading through a vast amount of dialogue and story, there is a ton of content here to get through, fortunately you have some features at your disposal to help smoothen the experience, now you can enable ‘Auto’ whenever you see fit, so you do not have to click X to continue on, the next section of text will appear on its own after giving you enough time to read the section that you are on. The option to skip scenes is available, in which the entire scene will skip forward to the next section of that scene, this allows you to jump certain parts of the story that you are not invested in. Now there are some sections where I was reading along and found myself drifting off and almost falling asleep, not due to story per say but due to the lack of interactivity, it didn’t keep my full attention especially when not receiving a text message or call for quite some time meaning you had nothing to do but monotonously keep tapping that X button. On the flip side, to counter the lack of interactivity I felt the story itself was enthralling through-out, I was heavily invested in each character and their plight’s.
The stunning hand-drawn art style does a great job in setting the tone for the story, the character sprites were detailed in such a way you could read the expression on their faces as well as get to a glimpse to their inside feelings, Okabe’s face had that dark and deep sadness to it that is understandable with his history, his eyes looked almost distant like he was always in constant thought, in comparison then you have Mayuri who is at nature a joyful person and you can see that in her facial details, the eyes in particular where you could tell she was smiling without being able to see her mouth, this incredible attention to detail aids the storytelling and cements what it is to be a great visual novel. The soundtrack is beautiful, an emotive collection of songs that bring out those innermost feelings, when there was a tense action packed moment you felt it or when at a party surrounded by your friends you feel the joy that the music brings. In conjunction with the soundtrack you have the superb voice acting that not only just fits the characters but also delivers in putting across the emotions of those speaking, you could hear the urgency in their voices in the chaotic situations or the softness when having a heart to heart.
Upon completion of any ending, you gain access to the extras section of the game in which you can take a look back through the CG, movie and music libraries as well as the clear list and TIPS section allowing you to re-experience the art and music as much as you wish. The TIPS section is handy in giving you further insight to the meanings of certain phrases and keywords, this is also accessible whilst in-game, not just after completion, when scrolling through dialogue in the game you will get blue text which highlights phrases and words, then you can take a look in the TIPS section to broaden your knowledge to get the best experience.
One word that accurately describes Steins;Gate 0 is stunning, the visuals, audio, story and characters bring to life this world filled with possibilities, with immersive locales, deep and interesting characters and meaningful story. Steins;Gate 0 is a truly great visual novel, it doesn’t have much depth in terms of interactivity but then again that’s not the main reason why you play games of this genre, everything else more than makes up for its short falls in the gameplay department.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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