Review: Steins;Gate ELITE

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As we’ve men­tio­ned in our review of Chaos;Child, Steins;Gate is one of the most influ­en­ti­al visu­al novels ever released. It ensu­red the popu­la­ri­ty of the long run­ning Sci­ence Adven­ture series while also making the rare suc­cess­ful jump to ani­me. Steins;Gate ELITE com­bi­nes both the clas­sic visu­al novel and ani­me adap­ti­on into one sty­lish packa­ge.

The prot­ago­nist of Steins;Gate ELITE, Rin­ta­ro Oka­be, is an eccentric indi­vi­du­al that likes to think of him­s­elf as a mad sci­en­tist. He talk to him­s­elf, crea­tes useless ‘gad­gets’ and uses the nick­na­me Houou­in Kyou­ma due to con­si­de­ring his true name uncool. Basi­cal­ly, he’s not the most matu­re human being on the pla­net. After atten­ding a semi­nar on the pos­si­bi­li­ty of time tra­vel, along with acci­dent­al­ly crea­ting a func­tio­n­ing time machi­ne, his some­what nor­mal days start to take a dra­ma­tic turn for the wor­se.

Most of Steins;Gate ELITE’s first half is expo­si­ti­on, giving you a clea­rer pic­tu­re of Rintaro’s world­view and moti­va­tions. You get to see what life he has been living for the past few years, and the game spends a lot of time detail­ing his inter­ac­tions with others. The slow build-up real­ly helps to make the events of the game’s lat­ter half feel even more impac­t­ful, espe­ci­al­ly a cer­tain important choice near the end. Rin­ta­ro is an excel­lent prot­ago­nist, fla­wed but also believ­a­b­ly human, even if he can be a litt­le over the top at some points. The rest of the cast is simi­lar­ly well writ­ten, from the per­ver­ted ‘super hacker’ Daru to Rintaro’s air­hea­ded child­hood fri­end Mayuri. Each has their own uni­que per­so­na­li­ty wit­hout being over­ly annoy­ing, though some may be put-off initi­al­ly by some of the main character’s eccentri­ci­ties.

Steins’Gate’s mul­ti­ple rou­tes make a return in ELITE, which also leads to one of the more annoy­ing mecha­nics in the game. At cer­tain points of the sto­ry you will be sent text messa­ges by dif­fe­rent cha­rac­ters. You’ll then usual­ly be able to reply to the mes­sa­ge by selec­ting high­light­ed words wit­hin it. Most of your replies will not affect the sto­ry, and igno­ring the­se ent­i­re­ly won’t mat­ter. Howe­ver, you are requi­red to send the right replies to a few text messa­ges to unlock the true ending rou­te, and the­se choices are not very obvious even after repea­ting the sto­ry mul­ti­ple times. While this may not be as awk­ward as Chaos;Child’s way of choo­sing rou­tes, it can still lead to a fair amount of tri­al and error.

As with most visu­al novels, the ori­gi­nal release of Steins;Gate used sta­tic spri­tes and the occa­sio­nal illus­tra­ti­on for spe­cial sce­nes. ELITE ins­tead uses ani­ma­ti­ons from the ani­me adap­ti­on and for the most part it works well. The sto­ry is still told from Rintaro’s per­spec­tive, but the chan­ge in visu­al style gives you a dif­fe­rent per­spec­tive on events during the game. Ins­tead of having Rin­ta­ro hid­den behind the came­ra, you can ins­tead see how he inter­ac­ts with other cha­rac­ters out­si­de of just the dia­lo­gue. His eccentri­ci­ty com­bi­ned with the­se ani­ma­ti­ons real­ly helps to give more life to the sto­ry and, this might be a mino­ri­ty opi­ni­on, looks far bet­ter than the incon­sis­tent art­work used pre­vious­ly. The­re is also litt­le dif­fe­rence bet­ween the PS4 and Switch ver­si­ons of Steins;Gate ELITE, with the Switch ver­si­on using slight­ly lower reso­lu­ti­on assets com­pa­red to PS4. The slight chan­ge in image qua­li­ty is not noti­ce­ab­le when using hand­held mode on Switch eit­her way, and was our pre­fer­red method for play­ing through ELITE.

This isn’t to say that the chan­ge to ani­me visu­als has been a com­ple­te­ly per­fect tran­si­ti­on. Ani­ma­ti­ons will fre­quent­ly be reu­sed for dif­fe­rent sce­nes, though usual­ly only for sce­nes whe­re dif­fe­rent ani­ma­ti­ons wouldn’t have made much dif­fe­rence. The big­ger pro­blem is that a cer­tain rou­te in the game ended up being hea­vi­ly cut down, likely due to not being fea­tured in the ani­me. It may not be the most important rou­te in regards to the full sto­ry, but its remo­val is stran­ge con­si­de­ring how other sce­nes ended up having new ani­ma­ti­ons made for them. Steins;Gate ELITE should have been a chan­ce to ful­ly ani­ma­te every event from the visu­al novel, so it’s a shame that this isn’t qui­te the defi­ni­ti­ve expe­ri­ence we were expec­ting.


Steins;Gate ELITE suc­cess­ful­ly mana­ges to take the best parts of both the ori­gi­nal visu­al novel and ani­me with only a few missteps along the way. It would be hard to recom­mend this to someo­ne that has alrea­dy expe­ri­en­ced Steins;Gate in some form befo­re due to the cut con­tent, but it is a gre­at way of intro­du­cing new­co­mers to the series.

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