What's your rating of Steins Gate

test - Steins; Gate Elite : It doesn't get any better

Steins; Gate was originally released in 2009, has since been ported to various platforms and even received an anime series and a feature film. To this day it is considered one of the best, if not the best visual novel among fans of the genre. Anyone who has always flirted with sniffing into this narrative form, which at first glance seems a bit strange in this country, now has the ideal opportunity to do so. Because SteinsGate is finally coming to Germany for PS4, Xbox One and Switch in its greatly improved elite version, a few years later.

SteinsGate is about the Japanese student Rintaro Okabe, who considers himself a brilliant inventor. However, if you write the job title “Mad Scientist” on your business card, you really can't be right in your head. Okabe probably sees himself as a mixture of Daniel Düsentrieb, Dr. Evil and Luke Skywalker: a rebel against the system who tinkers with futuristic equipment in his laboratory to overthrow the evil empire: a world conspiracy known or imagined only as "the organization". Because how much of his boasting is just delusion, childish omnipotence fantasy or even reality, nobody knows exactly at first.

Until one day he invents something that actually works, even if nobody knows exactly why: He builds a time machine out of a microwave that can be used to send messages back to the past via e-mail. However, he and his friends soon realize that they are changing the timeline in a way that is getting out of control and causing great disaster ...

At the same time, they learn from the future of an impending catastrophe that will plunge the world into chaos. Only with the help of another time traveler from that same future does it seem possible to prevent this. But in doing so they make an overpowering opponent into an enemy who tries to usurp control over space and time.

A visual novel as it stands in the book

Anyone who is not familiar with the genre of the visual novel - and there will be quite a few in this country - may initially be a little irritated when “playing” SteinsGate. The quotation marks are deliberately placed here: Because this narrative genre has very little in common with a real game in the narrower sense. First of all, a visual novel is exactly what the name says: an illustrated book. That means: read a lot, a lot, click away many, many dialogues, and look at a couple of reasonably animated pictures.

Although the player (or rather: reader) makes decisions every now and then and thereby influences the further course of the plot, one should not imagine it in the way one would think of western games like Life is Strange, the Telltale Adventures or a Choose -your-own-adventure book is used to. Most of the time you are only busy clicking away lines of dialogue.

Only about every half hour you will be asked to select one of several highlighted words in a short email. These are usually quite arbitrary and do not allow the slightest conclusion about the way in which your choice influences further events. The "game" could just as easily do without this form of interaction and be sold as a pure anime on DVD, if your "intervention" did not lead to one of two endings that should not only encourage replay, but almost it make necessary in order to understand the overall context and to bring about the "real" end.

Boom sloppy talk

It will be some time before that happens. SteinsGate is not just about time, it also takes it. Lots of it. You should plan 30 to 40 hours until one of the possible ends, around 50 if you want to get to see the others too - which is sincerely recommended, because only in the combination can the event be grasped in its entirety. Tip: Even the "Game Over" ends, which lead prematurely into one of the "bad" endings, are highly recommended and add a powerful emotional depth to the action and its characters.

SteinsGate not only takes the time, it takes it too: to delve deeply into the emotional worlds of its characters, to present scientific theories about time travel and black holes, or simply to laboriously spin whole threads of action, only to drop them shortly afterwards and keep them for several hours to lose sight of them before they are taken up again.

It is not uncommon for facts and trivialities that a player has understood in 2 seconds to be unraveled and rolled out down to the last detail in debates lasting several hours. As is the case with the Japanese narrative style, there is sometimes tiring chatter that seems to go round and round endlessly, especially in the first 15 hours of the game. You are reminded of the time when the Kickers felt it took three full episodes to take a single free kick.

In never-ending detail, for example, you can watch the friends during their scientific experiments with which they try to track down the properties of time travel. What other games or films would explain in a few sentences (think of Doc Brown's speech in the supermarket parking lot), SteinsGate spreads out over a full five hours. What at first seems like the authors' inability to narrate efficiently, however, soon turns out to be a method. SteinsGate is like a spider in its web that remains motionless for a long time, only to strike when the victim has long been at the mercy of it.

In the beginning you need a bit of patience and a bit of a sedentary lifestyle to get involved with it. But you inevitably will. Guaranteed. Almost imperceptibly, SteinsGate weaves its web of threads of action, from which at some point there is no escape from the tension. It might be best to approach SteinsGate less with the expectation of playing a game than with “binging” an anime TV series, as they say in modern German, except that here you have to press a button after every sentence you say the next one is played. With its playing time, SteinsGate is at least close to a complete series season in terms of length. After all, SteinsGate's elite version is relatively elaborately produced for its genre, with many animations from the series based on the game, which also make it look like an anime series visually. A somewhat cheap anime series, but a pretty good one.

Because the dialogues from SteinsGate may have turned out to be extremely extravagant, but they are also excellently written. As if the words were acrobats in the circus, they oscillate in the inimitable, typically Japanese way between great pathos and bizarre silly humor, between delicate feelings and a cool head, always with a loving eye for detail, but which only reveals so much to get enough To leave questions in the dark so that the tension rises increasingly against the attack.

Anyone who has always wanted to get a taste of the visual novel genre should do so with SteinsGate. You either love it or you hate it. But it doesn't get much better.

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