Steins;Gate 0 is Still One of the Best Visual Novels Available, Three Years Later
Come for the girl in panda pajamas, stay for the heartbreaking story and complex world.
My history with the Steins;Gate series begins with the first anime years ago. I watched and watched — getting so confused that I actually pulled up the Wiki for the game and anime and had an episode-by-episode guide to the terminology of the games so that I could understand what in the holy heck-a-moly was going down in this weird, weird science-fiction story.
And then it hit me: I loved Steins;Gate. So, I played the first game, and I loved it. And now, I’ve been given the opportunity to take a close look at Steins;Gate 0‘s PC port, which will be coming to eager series fans May 8, 2018. Thanks for supporting my addiction to heartbreaking tragedies and needlessly complicated storylines, DualShockers and Spike Chunsoft!
Let’s start out with what you are all wondering: Steins;Gate 0 makes an excellent transition to PC and is your chance to play one of the best visual novels from one of the best visual novel series from the comfort of your computer. I’ll get into what makes Steins;Gate 0 so good in just a moment, but I’d like to take the time to say that I highly recommend the series as a whole; Steins;Gate and Steins;Gate 0 are both available on PC, so there’s no reason you can’t check them out. Even if you don’t know for sure, why not check out the anime? It’s streaming for free on Crunchyroll right now.
If you just want to know if the PC port is good without spoiling anything for yourself, rest assured: it is. The transition from PS3 to PlayStation Vita to PC has been smooth. Although it’s a straight port with no changes or remasters, I don’t think Steins;Gate 0 needs anything more extraneous. The game ran slick on my laptop without stressing out the fans at all, but if you want to make sure your computer can run the game (which you shouldn’t have too much trouble with, even without a gaming laptop), check out the minimum specs below courtesy of the game’s Steam page:
OS: Windows: 7/8.1/10
Processor: Intel Core i5
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics Series (With 1GB memory allocation)
DirectX: Version 9.0
Network: Broadband Internet connection
Storage: 15 GB available space
Sound Card: Direct Sound compatible sound device.
Additional Notes: Minimum resolution: 1280×720 (Recommended: 1920×1080)
As for the gameplay, it’s all translated well to the PC version. The port features both mouse-and-keyboard controls and some controller support, although I was partial to the mouse-and-keyboard layout. Considering Steins;Gate 0 is a visual novel and thus lacks gameplay that would require precision controls, most players shouldn’t be too bothered by the selection of control styles. The HUD looks good and functions just fine, allowing players to swap between the ongoing story and the menu at the click of a button.
If you’re a fan of the series, Steins;Gate 0 is an excellent game to pick up, especially if you’re interested in playing it alongside the accompanying anime that is currently airing. But that comes with the disclaimer: if this is the first you’ve heard of Steins;Gate, you really shouldn’t start with this game. Like I said before, it’s riddled and rife with a complex narrative and terminology that you need context to understand. You can try if you want, but I would recommend either watching the anime or playing the first game before diving into this adventure.
Now, with that being said, this is by no means a full review of the game. If you want that, you can find our review of the game when it first came out on PS Vita here — we awarded the game a 9.0 out of 10. Like in that review, there will also be some spoilers for the first game in this article, so please be wary of that before you read. Be warned: spoilers will follow this image of Sergeant Tennouji.
We good? Good. Gucci, even, one might say if one were so inclined.
There aren’t a whole lot of new things to say about this port of the game because it is that: just a port. That’s fine, too; I don’t own a PS Vita myself (a virtual DualShockers sin), so it gave me a chance to experience the game firsthand via a more accessible console.
Steins;Gate 0 is an absolute must-play for fans of the Steins;Gate series and is more accessible than ever with the addition of a PC port, which the original game also received two years ago. In this game, we get to explore the Beta World Lines–essentially those from the divergence range of 1% to 1.99%. We return to the perspective of Hououin Kyouma… or, rather, just Okabe Rintaro, who is suffering tremendously from his many jumps through world lines in the hopes of reaching the titular Stein’s Gate — the world line in which certain major, disastrous events are avoided, and everyone gets out pretty much okay.
Okabe Rintaro has not escaped the events of Steins;Gate unscathed; in fact, he very much so lives with PTSD as a result of his inability to save Kurisu and stop the seemingly inevitable future converging on World War III. So exasperated is Okabe that he decides to give up… just give up.
Rintaro accepts the futility of his actions — that trying to change the world lines only screws things up worse — and decides to abandon his “Dark Past” and return to life as an ordinary college student in the Beta world line. Our once cheerful and eccentric protagonist now dons black, looks sunken and sallow, and suffers from constant flashbacks and panic attacks from his experiences. He is quiet, only occasionally slipping back into his eccentric Kyouma voice when excited or surprised, and all-in-all, it’s a poignant yet tragic change to our main character.
Steins;Gate 0 spends a lot of time exploring futility, feelings of hopelessness and despair, and the cyclic nature of the franchise’s spin on multiverses and time travel. One of my favorite things the Steins;Gate series is how well it explores and makes use of its core gimmick of time travel, and Steins;Gate 0 is no exception. It’s one thing to reference Back to the Future a couple of times or to namedrop John Titor, but it’s another to create a sophisticated world with its own set of rules and individual style of time travel while still feeling fresh and exciting — something Steins;Gate, in general, seems to accomplish effortlessly.
In Steins;Gate 0, things that change the world lines are subtle and nuanced — did you read a text message or didn’t you? Did you respond to a call? Did you check in on someone, or did you decide to turn your phone off and just avert your eyes? It emphasizes the idea of the Butterfly Effect — of how simple choices can have such a huge impact — and it strongly resonates with the game’s core themes. As you play through the game multiple times to see the different endings, you’ll barely notice the slight shifts in the narrative because of your new choices until, all of a sudden, you’re in a completely different story with characters you’ve never seen before.
Steins;Gate 0‘s PC port is an excellent buy if you’re in the market for a story from one of the best visual novel series out there. It doesn’t change anything from its PS Vita version, but the transition to PC is a perfectly good way to play the latest incarnation in the incredibly complex, bittersweet series.