What would you do if you had the ability to send text messages back in time? Maybe you’d send yourself the answers to a test at school, or maybe even the winning lottery numbers. If you knew what the future held then there are loads of little things you could do to improve your life. It all seems fairly harmless as well, right? But what happens when your seemingly innocent messages have unintended consequences that destroy the lives of those you care about most?
Steins;Gate Elite is a dark sci-fi visual novel which explores the consequences of altering the past. It’s a remastered version of the original PS3 and PS Vita game, Steins;Gate. Storywise there's not much difference between the old and the new version of the game, but it has been given a pretty significant visual makeover. Instead of 2D static images, it now uses footage from the anime series.
White Fox, the company behind the anime, has created loads of gorgeous new animations specifically for the game. Visual novels are always quite text heavy, but it’s amazing just how much more immersive it feels thanks to this.
The story follows college student Okabe Rintaro. He’s quite a quirky fellow and walks around calling himself a mad scientist while madly laughing at the top of his voice. Despite all his talk of conspiracies and secret organisations he’s really just a normal, geeky guy. He and his friends hang out in their ‘laboratory’, which is basically just a club house, and invent the kind of silly, pointless gadgets that would be utterly ripped apart if they were ever showcased on Dragon’s Den.
Their latest gadget however is a little bit different. They’d aimed to create a microwave that could be controlled by phone but instead seem to have inadvertently created something that can send text messages into the past. This leads to them getting caught up in a global conspiracy, complete with shady organisations and deadly consequences.
Unlike most video games and movies that deal with time travel, Steins;Gate actually tries really hard to describe how it could possibly work. There’s a lot of detail about different scientific theories which the game manages to break down so that even someone without a scientific background can understand. In the original version of the game this would lead to large amounts of text being thrown up on the screen and it could get a little tiresome to read though. Elite alleviates some of this thanks to its new animations, although at times the explanations can still feel a little long. There’s also a really handy glossary where you can look up any of the terminology at any time.
One of the greatest assets this game has is its fascinating cast of characters. Everyone has a vital role to play in the story and no one is introduced to you without good reason. While initially Okabe’s circle of friends is small it doesn’t take long before he starts picking up other waifs and strays to join his lab. Watching the banter between Okabe and everyone else is frequently amusing and the game spends a lot of time letting you get to know them all. This is also what makes the game so harrowing and also incredibly gripping.
The storyline has some quite drastic tonal shifts; it can switch in an instant from something lighthearted to suddenly dealing with some pretty dark issues. At times it’s quite hard to watch, but we mean that in the best way possible; you end up feeling really invested in these characters so watching some of the situations they have to go through is utterly heart-wrenching.
If you’ve already played the original Steins;Gate then the idea of new animations might not be enough to make you want to purchase this again, but there is one thing that might get you to change your mind. Bundled with this is an added extra bonus in Steins;Gate Linear Bounded Phenogram.
This is pretty great as, although it was released back in 2013, this is the first time that it’s been officially translated into English. It features 11 separate stories that all take place in the Steins;Gate universe, but all on slightly different worldlines. It’s best to play this after Elite as it assumes you are already familiar with the characters and what the time machine can do.
Some of the subject matters that it deals with are just as hard hitting as in the main game. For instance, the very first story touches briefly on everything from homelessness to suicide. But there’s also a generous helping of Steins;Gate goofiness which stops it from getting too dark. So you have everything from stories about Daru falling in love with a cosplayer, to Okabe transforming into a superhero, Alpaca Man, where he uses knowledge of the future and laxative-infused spicy salsa to bring justice to the world.
Linear Bounded Phenogram doesn’t just focus on Okabe -- there are also stories which follow some of the other characters like Kurisu, Nae, and Mayuri. It’s really interesting to finally get into the heads of these other characters. Not all the storylines are as hard hitting as Okabe’s but it’s actually really nice to see some more light-hearted moments in the Steins;Gate universe.
If you were hoping to purchase Linear Bounded Phenogram separately then you’ll be disappointed to know that this will only be available when you purchase Elite. It also doesn’t have any trophies, which is strange considering the original PS3 game does. Ignoring the lack of trophy support, with all the stories being around three to four hours long, it’s still a pretty awesome bonus.
It’s surprising just what an impact the new animations have in Steins;Gate Elite -- the additions take an already excellent visual novel and makes it feel much more dynamic and intense. What's more, being able to finally play Linear Bounded Phenogram in English is just the icing on an already very scrumptious cake. Elite is the complete visual novel package, and pretty much the best that the genre has to offer.
Sounds really, really good. Haven't played a visual novel in ages, tempted to give it a shot!
So would this be a prequel to Steins;Gate 0?
@LiamCroft Yep. Don't play zero until you have played this. Although this is by far the better game imo
@Rob_230 Sweet, I’ll have to pick this up then!
Still the best story told in a video game ever. I played the original on the PS Vita. Great coffee/cafe game.
Do I double dip. Yep. But I visual novel game needs to be played on the go. So I am playing on the Switch. (I still have plenty off other games for the PS4)
@LiamCroft. Play this first. An I agree with @Rob_230, this is far the better game.
@ShogunRok Stein;Gate is the best visual novel game/story I have ever played. I have played a few. Like all Japanese visual games. It start very slow. Build up the character. Then WHAM! The ride become a emotional roll-a-coaster.
I do love visual novels, but haven't really played very much of them. I'll be sure to give Steins;Gate a try eventually.
only reason I want this is because of the trophy stack (love the story too so don't hate), its a shame the extra stories don't have any trophies, the addition of the animated cutscenes is a nice touch it's just the asking price I don't agree with atm, £50 is a lot to swallow especially something you will go thru once and never play again, I'm sure it won't be long till it's down to £30 or cheaper so it's gonna be a long wait for me.
@huyi It's £45 most places online, £40 on Simply Games. I assume the £50 is at Game? That place is such a rip-off.
Though I'm tempted to get the Switch version since it's nice and comfy to play VNs in bed...
@Matroska that is amazon's price actually even still £40 and up is still too much imo.
@brendon987 agreed. I think visual novels absolutely should be played on the go. Not happy that the vita version of this is exclusive to Japan.
Pretty sure the Switch version has different bonus content to the ps4 version (an 8 bit version of steins;gate). Id argue that the added content on ps4 is more worthwhile, but portability a big plus for switch.
Its also poor that there is an expectation to pick this up on 2 consoles if you want all of the content
@brendon987 Yeah i wasnt a fan of SG until i think the end of chapter 5. But from then on it became one of my favourite gaming experiences ever and i couldnt get enough!
@huyi Ah right, they must be recently changed it as it's slightly cheaper now but still more than other places. I wish the publisher would realise they'd make more money overall if it launched at more like £25-30. Especially as its fans already own at least one copy - and the original is on Steam for about 24 quid so people are expected to pay about 26 quid for some anime clips mainly.
Anyone know if it has text auto-advance, and a different font than those screenshots?
Guess I'll replay it soon.
Steins;Gate, despite a slow start, is a masterpiece, and a legitimately great work of time travel science-fiction, so I always welcome the opportunity for more people to get pulled into its dark and compelling narrative.
I was going to nab the Switch version of this, but the inclusion of Linear Bounded Phenogram changes things completely. Unlike the addition to that version, which is cute but mostly an afterthought, LBP is actually a full-on VN release that will be of interest to anyone who loves this series.
@fontainelefunk it does have auto-advance. You can change the font size but not the actual font type.
@Ralizah Linear Bounded Phenogram was awesome. It's a shame that they've split the bonuses between Switch and PS4. From what I've heard the PS4 has definitely got the better end of the deal.
I think that the Switch version has an 8-bit style re-imagining of the game which lasts an hour or two whereas LBP is pretty much a full game.
@Matroska yeah a cheaper price would have been welcome but it's unfortunate that it's not.
it seems stock of the game is not available for at least 2-3 months now, seems to be in high demand.
I find it strange i love to read and i love video games. But i just cant get into visual novels like this. Ive never tried this game, maybe this is the one.
I loved the original Steins;gate. Aside from a bit of creepy fan servicey bits it was pretty much exactly what I'd want from a visual novel, so the chance to play it again in a better form is one I'll probably take at some point.
I was thinking of getting this but they gave this game free a few months ago on PS3 thanks to PS+ and since the only new things are graphics I'm good with the PS3 game
Argh, I had absolutely no idea this was coming out, and I've JUST finished watching the anime, which was utterly fantastic. Genuinely the best time-travel sci-fi story I've ever seen/played. It's brilliant and the characters are wonderful.
Will pick this up soon as started the nonary games at the weekend which is my first rates of visual novels and really enjoyed it, also ordered ChaosChild for £8 from base.com
I thought I read Steins Gate; 0 was included in this. Am I remembering this wrong or was it supposed to be?
I thought I read the same thing, same with the trails of cold steel games, 90% certain when announced both games were supposed to be in one package
@suikoden I knew it because I remembered when it was announced I was thinking this was a definite get for me. I’ve watched the original anime & bought Zero on a PS4 sale but never played it after I heard about this & thought they might be doing the same for that(making cutscenes instead of visual novel style static images) so I wanted to get the full experience that way
@Jenny_Jones It needs to be stressed that this is definitely a very mature game and some of the themes skirt the boundaries of AO territory.
@LiamCroft It's more like 0 is a mid-quel to this.
This game is amazing and BOY does it escalate!
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