Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: March 11, 2019
Steins; Gate Elite is a sci-fi anime visual novel available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4, while also being available at retail and digitally on Vita, albeit only in Japan. Steins; Gate’s videogame origins began in Japan when the first Steins; Gate game was released on October 15th 2009 before being enhanced and expanded with each port including PC in August 2010 and PSP in June 2011, while Vita and PS3 ports were released in North America and Europe in 2015. A sequel titled Steins; Gate 0 released in Japan on December 10th for PS3, PS4 and Vita before releasing in Europe and North America in November 2016. Steins; Gate had an anime TV series adaptation in 2011 at 25 episodes in length based upon the original game from 2009 followed by a cinematic animated film titled Steins; Gate: The Movie – Load Region of Deja Vu was released in Japanese theatres in April 2013 before being dubbed into English in March 2017, while Steins; Gate 0 also has an anime TV series adaptation in 2018 at 24 episodes in length based upon the Steins; Gate 0 videogame from 2015. There has also been a multitude of manga adaptations, drama CDs, soundtrack albums and much more besides. Can Steins; Gate Elite deliver the best version of the original Steins; Gate?
The story revolves around mysterious sci-fi subject matter such as time travel with the lead character named Okabe Rintaro questioning what is reality, a nightmarish vision or a figment of his imagination in a fascinating unfolding narrative.
Steins; Gate Elite’s story spans a prologue and 11 chapters, alongside half a dozen endings that branch out from the main story due to making important decisions during particular moments. Steins; Gate Elite rather cleverly features a dictionary of scientific terminology that is gradually unlocked as the player progresses throughout each chapter of the story. A gameplay element that occurs from time to time sees Okabe Rintaro receiving a text message from one of his friends on his phone that the player can choose to respond to in focusing on one of multiple separate topics of conversation or alternatively ignoring the text message. Steins; Gate Elite: Linear Bounded Phenogram provides over 30 hours of new content featuring an expanded backstory for each of the ten lab members, although that is via a single use download code rather than being included on the disc.
Character design reflects what fans of anime and visual novels would anticipate the characters to look and sound. The lead character who calls himself Hououin Kyouma, despite actually being named Okabe Rintaro starts out as a wannabe inventor at his Future Gadget Laboratory with his two friends; creating such inventions as a larger oven named the PhoneWave that can be worked with a remote, although it tends to make frozen chicken more frozen than before it was put into the oven, while bananas become gelbanas after two minutes in the not so quite perfected PhoneWave. Every character has fun, sarcastic and serious dialogue with Okabe Rintaro as though they are consistently going back and forth on each other’s every word in a very effective nature such as Okabe Rintaro’s dialogue with his two friends Mayuri and Daru that he works with at his Future Gadget Laboratory and the man who he rents the floor from above an old CRT shop named Mr. Braun is rather funny in most scenes. Meanwhile, environment design is varied as Okabe Rintaro and his friends explore buildings, streets, the Future Gadget Laboratory, university, their local restaurant and much more besides.
Steins; Gate Elite is not receiving a Vita release outside of Japan; however Steins; Gate does have a great presence globally on Vita including standard edition and limited edition retail releases for Steins; Gate and Steins; Gate Zero, while Steins; Gate Elite’s expanded content is supported by remote play. Steins; Gate Elite’s remote play performance is excellent as the graphics, audio and general performance maintains the quality of the PS4 version, while the small amount of remote play optimisation that was needed has been implemented such as tapping the bottom right of the touch screen to quick save, alongside retaining the core control scheme; resulting in a very playable remote play experience.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller consisting of pressing triangle to view a back log of dialogue; pressing O to enter; pressing X to cancel, go back or hide text; pressing square to engage auto mode; pressing R1 or L1 to skip; pressing R2 or L2 to use phone trigger; pressing R3 to quick save; changing the direction of the left or right analogue sticks or alternatively pressing up, down, left or right on the d-pad to navigate selecting a text response on the phone or when navigating menus; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. Tapping the touch pad provides the tips list of technical scientific terminology, although there is no light bar or vibration that could have been utilised to accent tension within some scenes.
Graphically, Steins; Gate Elite attains the quality of an anime film or television series with amazing characters, environments and animations. The original Steins; Gate used still images, although Steins; Gate Elite has evolved into a fully animated visual novel utilising a mixture of new animations and animation from the anime TV series adaptation of the original version of the Steins; Gate visual novel.
Steins; Gate Elite’s presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the title menu, main menu, extra menus, tips list menus, config menus, help menu and various gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left and right analogue sticks, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the touch pad. Menu backgrounds focus on stylised black and white artwork of a pod structure that has crashed into the side of a building, alongside moving clouds.
Steins; Gate Elite does not feature any English overdubs; instead opting for Japanese voice-overs with English subtitles, although the Japanese voice-overs are superb as every voice-over artist brings life to their respective characters in humorous, sarcastic and more serious scenes. Sound effects mostly includes ambience such as traffic, doors and the chiming of the PhoneWave, while the majority of the soundtrack comprises of thought provoking instrumental music, although there is also an upbeat theme that is situated after completing the prologue. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation that could have produced voice-overs, sound effects or music.
The trophy list includes 26 trophies with 11 bronze trophies, 7 silver trophies, 7 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy, although there are no trophies for the Linear Bounded Phenogram. Steins; Gate Elite’s trophy list mostly involves completing each chapter and reaching different character’s endings, alongside exploring the story and dialogue such as the Cat’s Tea Time bronze trophy for being offered tea by Faris. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 20 to 40 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels as the gameplay is essentially the story itself; allowing the player to experience the story without any hurdles to overcome from difficulty levels. Meanwhile, there is technically no multiplayer, but given the fact that Steins; Gate Elite is purely a story; it could technically be simultaneously experienced by multiple Steins; Gate fans.
Steins; Gate Elite’s replayability stems from a complete remastering and animation of the original Steins; Gate anime visual novel spanning a prologue and 11 chapters including half a dozen endings, alongside Steins; Gate Elite: Linear Bounded Phenogram featuring over 30 hours of new content that will collectively have Steins; Gate fans returning for quite some time.
• Title: Steins; Gate Elite
• Developer: 5pb/White Fox
• Publisher: Koch Media/Spike Chunsoft
• System: PS4
• Format: PS4 Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1
• Hard Drive Space Required: 15GB (Steins; Gate Elite – Version 1.01)/4GB (Linear Bounded Phenogram)