Visual novel Steins;Gate 0 launches into the bad timeline

Rintaro Okabe has seen some shit.

Even as a semi-frequent consumer of visual novels, there are few that I would recommend almost unreservedly. Steins;Gate would be one of them – a time-travel mystery/thriller that (one character arc aside, which is a bit tone-deaf to contemporary gender issues) contains very little in the way of overbearing anime cliche to wade through. Its sequel, Steins;Gate 0, launched on PC yesterday, continuing the tale of young self-described ‘mad scientist’ Rintaro Okabe through a potentially doomed timeline.

Rather than pick up after the happiest possible ending of the original Steins;Gate, 0 returns to follow our protagonist through a partially failed branch in the timeline. Not everyone survived this time round, and the predestined World War 3 now seems inevitable. Okabe is also shaken from his less-than-cheerful adventures through time and space in the previous story. Gone is the irrepressible teen wunderkind, his experiences transforming him into a rather sullen and morose university student. Less mad scientist, more sad scientist.

While time-travel and parallel worlds are still a key focus of the story, the third string added to Steins;Gate 0’s repertoire of sci-fi standards is advanced, potentially sentient artificial intelligence, and all the many implications of it. As with the first game, there’s a decent amount of interactivity and enough minor and major plot branches to lead to six possible endings, although for the most part you’ll just be doing a lot of reading. Steins;Gate, while largely self-contained is also part of Mages’ Science Adventure series, which now encompasses five (soon to be six) main VNs, plus several non-canon side-stories.

For those of you who aren’t feeling up to a lengthy read, the anime adaptation of Steins;Gate 0 recently started airing on Crunchyroll. While I’ve not had a chance to look at it myself, the original Steins;Gate adaptation (sadly unavailable in the UK) was surprisingly solid, if perhaps a little too heavily abridged in places. A remastered version of the original Steins;Gate is also due out some time this year, featuring art, audio and video from the animated version in place of the original materials, plus several newly translated extra stories.

Steins;Gate 0 is out now via Steam for £27.79/30€/$35, or can be bought in a (slightly discounted) bundle with the original.

9 Comments

  1. Kreeth says:

    *Psssssst* If you mean the anime of Steins;Gate, it’s currently on UK Netflix

    Never (played? watched?) the visual novel, but the anime is still right up there as one of my favourites. Might give the new one a go.

  2. Don Reba says:

    Steins;Gate is brilliant, both the game and the anime. So is the movie. But I hate the new anime, so far. Going to wait to see if it improves before deciding whether to buy the game.

  3. TechnicalBen says:

    Wait? Which is which? Which is the movie, and which is the good and which is the bad anime?

    Watched the one up on Netflix… and it was very close to getting struck off my personal timelines… but I stuck at it, and turns out we are not in the dark universe after all, so all is forgiven. (I write off any story that kills off my favourite character… with exception to Firefly/Serenity ;) ).

    • Don Reba says:

      The new anime — Steins;Gate 0 — is only 4/23 episodes out. Featuring Okarin stuck in his best imitation of Evangelion’s Shinji.

      The movie is Steins;Gate: The Movie − Load Region of Déjà Vu.

      • skittles says:

        Well Okarin has been given more reason to be a depressed angst fest, he has been through a lot more than Shinji. In fact to be honest he appears remarkably chipper really after what he has been through. Still seeming to want to at least try to have a life, go to uni and whatnot. The fact it is still early days in the series we are given hope that he can ride this slump into even more reasons to be depressed soon. Just can’t catch a break can Okarin, waiting patiently to see how he can inadvertently ****** the timelines this time.

        • Don Reba says:

          he has been through a lot more than Shinji

          I think having to control an enslaved bionengineered clone of your mother is a bit more disturbing than seeing your childhood friend shot.

  4. Faxanadu says:

    It baffles me how you acknowledge the game is sexist and evil yet choose to support it.

    Disappointed.

    • skittles says:

      If every single piece of media which is “a bit tone-deaf to contemporary gender issues” is to be considered “sexist” and “evil” then there is remarkably NO media to consume. Everyone is bias in their own little ways. Just like real life upon which media is based, nothing nor nobody is ever perfect, nor will any story not offend somebody for something. Is the answer to just give up on media and return to imperfect life?

      Steins;Gate strongest characters are female. I would certainly agree it is a bit tone-deaf on some gender issues involving one particular character, which is not =/= sexism.

  5. kutchinka says:

    well technically speaking 0 was out in 2015, but was released on steam this month. You could have only gotten a hard copy of it though so I guess for most people it’s not released until it’s on steam.

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