Steins;Gate 0 Switch Review – An Intriguing Sequel Set in a Gap in Time

This review will contain massive spoilers for Steins;Gate Elite, as the game itself starts out at the end of the original Steins;Gate.

Steins;Gate 0 is a sequel to the astoundingly incredible Steins;Gate Elite but it is set just before the true end of the original game and because of timey wimey wibbly wobbly stuff, this is actually possible. This is a port of the game originally released in 2015, six years after the original Steins;Gate. Okabe has just accidentally killed Kurisu whilst trying to save her from her father and can’t cope anymore. Instead of trying one more time he accepts that he can’t save her and tries to grow up putting an end to the chunnibyou persona of Hououin Kyoma. This sets a far more serious tone than the original game. To counteract this you see some more light-hearted and funny scenes from other characters perspectives.

We meet new characters including Suzuha’s mum, some of Mayuri’s cosplay friends and the people Kurisu worked with in America, with the main focus being on an A.I. that Okabe can talk to developed by Kurisu’s colleagues with some slice of life comedy moments from trying to get Daru and Suzuha’s mum together. 

This time other organisations are experimenting with changing history while a strange war happens over time machines and an incredible A.I. using real human memories as it’s basis. This throws Okabe into some terrifying World Lines, such as experiencing the start of World War 3. The writing is as brilliant as ever, even though the whole game is tacked on as one massive “what if Okabe didn’t just save Kurisu straight away” you’ll soon find yourself eagerly playing to find out what happens next. Plus we learn more about a lot of our much loved characters including Daru’s secret job that’ll be a focus of the upcoming Robotics;Notes DaSH.

Steins;Gate 0 features two main paths with routes branching off of these that can cleverly be laid out as a ‘0’ with ‘/’ through the middle. The routes are decided in a very simple fashion this time round; answer or ignore phone calls with each of the routes being decided by one particular phone call so lock a save when your phone rings. As there is a darker tone than the original throughout there are some very emotional with tear jerking conclusions to some routes. Because a lot of routes cover the same time period you will see scenarios retold in ever so slightly different ways, sometimes with very different text and sometimes there’ll only be one lines difference.

You get good value for money out of Steins;Gate 0 with it being around 30 hours to read all the routes, just make sure you do read them all or at least experience the true end.

Just like in the recently released spin off My Darling’s Embrace, 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. However this time we get to see all the characters donning winter outfits and some redesigned summer outfits. For a game being mostly static images the art style is very striking however whenever any dramatic scenes are described you generally just get a black screen with some slashing or hitting visual effects, it’s a shame new scenes weren’t drawn for this rerelease. 

As Okabe is all forlorn about killing Kurisu and has given up after repeated attempts to reach the world line where everybody lives: Steins;Gate, his fantastically expressive voice actor rarely gets a chance to shine. But shine he does, on occasion. The Japanese only dub is very good, it’s very slice of life so only one character has over the top dramatic voice acting we’ve come to expect from Japanese media and that’s because she’s a quirky cat eared maid, however it’s always struck me as odd why for the two American characters they didn’t hire American voice actors, leaving their odd line in English a funny forced accent. The soundtrack sets the various tones well, more often than not a serious one as the story progresses.

This was my second time playing through Steins;Gate 0 and I can safely say I enjoyed it a lot more this time. That’s because my first time was when it was new out and straight after I completed the mind bendingly good original Steins;Gate so I held it to the standards of the best visual novel ever made. Steins;Gate 0 is not the best visual ever made. Depending on your taste that falls to Steins;Gate Elite or perhaps one of Spike Chunsoft’s other excellent games such as the outstanding AI: The Somnium Files (when are we getting the Danganronpa collection on Switch?). But Steins;Gate 0 is a superb sequel with an intriguing story and still one of the best visual novels ever (so long as you’ve played the original/elite). If you’re a fan of visual novels you either love Steins;Gate Elite or haven’t played it yet, if your the former then buy Steins;Gate 0 with zero hesitation (or play My Darling’s Embrace first if you want something light hearted), if you’re the later, go buy Steins;Gate Elite and then 0 once you’ve finished. 

A huge thank you to Spike Chunsoft for providing the review code. Steins;Gate 0 is available now on the eShop for £26.99/€29.99/$29.99.

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