Steins;Gate: My Darlings Embrace Switch Review – A Light hearted Joy to Read

Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace is a brand new chapter (in the West) in the Science Adventure visual novel series and Steins;Gate world however this isn’t a sequel rather a comedy spin off full of what if scenarios all made possible by the time travelling text messages; D-Mails. 

For those uninitiated in the ways of Steins;Gate it follows the adventures of Rintaro Okabe a self proclaimed mad scientist and his friends who are typical anime troupes but a lovable cast nonetheless, though their unique personalities are turned up to 11 in order to push for comedy in these stories..

Set just as the Rintaro Okabe and his Future Lab (a rented out apartment above a CRT TV shop where he and a few friends hang out) have discovered that they can send texts to the past, Okabe is still at his crazy chuunibyou (8th grader syndrome) self before any of the dramatic events of the original story and a complete contrast in tone to the sequel Steins;Gate 0 (that we shall be reviewing too, spoiler; it’s also awesome). The beginning of the game does a good job to explain the main details needed to understand and enjoy My Darling’s Embrace even without having experienced the greatness of the original, so you can sit back grab a Dr Pepper and let the good times roll.

There’s a very anime opening that could easily trick you into thinking that your about to play a comedy harem anime game. If you leave it on the title screen there’s even multiple openings to watch.

Each route is basically it’s own self contained story focussing on a different character as a love interest for our favourite mad scientist. Each on a different world line chosen by how you reply to and ignore text messages in the first chapter and when you decide to send that all important D-Mail, there’s 6 routes and they are fairly easy to unlock. The feel of the whole game is similar to the first few chapters of the original game; slice of life/light hearted comedy and I definitely chuckled out loud a few times throughout my reading. 

As Darling’ Embrace is set very early on in the Steins;Gate story you get to experience Okabe learning all about his fellow lab mems or ‘rubber man’ as Suzuha says (think of how lab mem would be pronounced with a heavy Japanese accent) in new and hilarious ways, all the while seeing new often cuter and sweeter sides to them. 

The romance is exactly what you’d expect from a self proclaimed mad scientist like Rintaro Okabe; it’s very innocent and Okabe is a bit tsundere. He can never admit out loud he likes anyone and the only action he gets in some routes are hand holding or a kiss on the cheek.

It’s all very silly but in an enjoyable way. Everyone is tackling typical teenage problems but with a dose of scientific genius and time travelling thrown in to make some of the situations appear quite serious. One route in particular had me grinning like a Cheshire cat throughout the whole thing, others were sweet, or a bit awkward in a cute way. 

Despite having a different scenario writer; My Darling’s Embrace captures the essence of the characters and world very well right down to protagonist Okabe’s Norse code names for things.

The tips that pop up to explained pop culture jargon or scientific terms are great except occasionally the wrong tip comes up such as the information about ‘crash’ when Okabe mentions a ‘nue’.

The art style is back to the beautiful drawn static images of the original with characters having a few poses and then moving mouths like many other visual novels and unlike the anime styled remake of the original Steins;Gate Elite.

Okabe has a fantastic voice actor who really adds to the chunnibyou-ness of the character on top of that the other voice actors are brilliant as always in the series, though there is only a Japanese dub. On the title screen you get treated to an extremely cute light hearted remix of the main Steins;Gate theme that’s usually filled with anguish and sorrow, this really sets the scene for the comedic adventure you’re about to go on. When in game you’re treated to all the old music from the original which I love as it’s a nostalgic return, plus the cute remix at all the best moments.

The only thing I didn’t like about this entertaining spin off is that Suzuha and Kurisu are getting along from the start and anyone who’s played the original will know why that’s really weird. It very much gives My Darling’s Embrace the feel of a non-canon spin off rather than one of the many possibilities of Hououin Kyoma’s Steins Gate and the use of D-Mail. I understand that it’s to keep the light hearted nature and is explained at the beginning of the game as a change in world lines but a bit of fiery conflict can be extremely funny if done right.

If value for money is your thing, My Darling’s Embrace doesn’t disappoint, it’s a very decent length for a spin off, at about 20hours for me to play through and the different routes take the story in such drastically different ways that it stays fresh throughout.

If like me you want more Hououin Kyoma in your life, Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace is an absolute must have. To be honest if you enjoy visual novels and haven’t played Steins;Gate then there is no game in the world I would recommend more, once finished you too will want My Darling’s Embrace. The only issue for this humorous story is the nature of being a spin off you’ll enjoy it a great deal more if you’ve experienced the original. I’ve never played a more innocent romance game where sometimes the romance is only implied while it constantly pokes fun at itself for situations cropping up just like the ones in corny romcoms and manga. My Darling’s Embrace is the sort of game the industry needs more of, there’s no reason for it other than to entertain, it’s a superb addition to the Science Adventure universe, well worth your time and purchase.

A huge thank you to Spike Chunsoft for providing the review code. Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace is available now on the eShop for £26.99/€29.99/$29.99

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