Stiens;Gate Elite, however, is a remaster of the original visual novel released way back in 2009, with some heavy lifting from the anime series that debuted in 2011 with a dash of new scenes and content created by White Fox Studio (the studio behind the anime).
The anime scenes are nicely polished but are recycled throughout the game. This is mostly due to the amount of anime content needed for the title, at least the scenery and backgrounds have been switched up to compensate.
Following the same story arc as it’s predecessor, Steins;Gate Elite is one of the best introductions into Sci-Fi visual novels a Westerner is to expect. Following the games protagonist and the exploits of the Future Gadget Laboratory, players soon learn that they have strumbled upon a method to time travel. This involves a murder, a mobile phone and a microwave.
The best part of that last sentence is the comfort I have in stating I’m not going to explain it. Steins;Gate Elite features an incredibly rich story arc with deep character building resulting in further development down the line by exploring character motives, I don’t want to ruin that.
Decieve your other self, deceive the world.
As great as Steins;Gate is, it’s a slow burner, particularly in this remaster due to the extent of extra material. Some scenes can be longer than an average anime episode, which lead me to worry about new player engagement. Let me reassure those of you who are experiencing this fatigue, its all part of the ride. All of these small scenes and seemingly useless plot points mostly come into play once things kick off, hang in there champ!
After conducting some thorough research into the source material, the anime typically wondered away from the original visual novels source material. Usually, the excuse is that anime houses are awaiting new manga to be adapted, but not in this case (F you Frieza Saga!).
Steins;Gate Elite is essentially a huge anime movie with various routes (narrative choices) to be made, making this a unique experience with previously unseen story arcs. Whilst initially I thought this is a great addition to die-hard fans of the series, on the whole they don’t really add much too the overall gravitas of Steins;Gate.
New Samsung, Now with a Microwave!
The protagonist’s mobile phone is used to send messages into the past via a modified microwave, thus creating a new route which also means a shift in time. This later leads to all kinds of trouble, but players will need to find that out for themselves.
The emphasis Steins;Gate Elite puts on the isolation of time travel was a brilliant touch. The idea of time travel is often inflated into the ultimate power or as a tool to correct past mistakes. In this case, it’s a burden that only seems to bring suffering and worst case scenarios to life. or does it?
Once the story eventually begins to unravel, hard-hitting instances, stake building and constant plot twists only intensify character motivations and actions. It’s a true tale of tribulation and friendship.
What’s That Sound?
Whilst the remaster has taken care of some sound effects issues, it still suffers from missing effects both in terms of depth and literally nothing but dialogue. Whilst this is an immersion breaker, the OST does a brilliant job of building suspense and flipping moods in an instant. Another interesting audio fact is that the original voice cast made a return to re-record dialogue old and new for Steins;Gate Elite. I love a good reunion!
A noteworthy moment is the ‘@ Board’, an in-game online forum. I literally spent a good half an hour browsing the one sentence posts a la Facebook binge. Noticing the odd reference to other anime such as DragonBall was a nice treat.
Also included with the PS4 version is the newly localised visual novel ‘Steins Gate Linear Bounded Program’. A spin-off game following the original story from side characters perspectives (GO ALPACA MAN!). This inclusion is around 20 hours in length and a cool addition for long-time fans of the series.
Story (In the place of Gameplay): 9
Overall Score: 7.8/10
Steins;Gate Elite is a great introduction into visual novels and contains an amazing plot with some unforgettable characters. Players need to be aware however that they are purchasing a visual novel with controllable plot points.
Format: PlayStation 4 Pro (Reviewed), PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch
Price: £49.99 (PlayStation Store)
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft
Age Rating: PEGI 16+
Release Date: 19/02/19
Review copy provided by publisher