It only makes sense that the best video game story ever is found in a Visual Novel right? If you play games for their story, I urge you to give this a go, especially if you are the least bit curious. It’s a wild fun ride.
To give a bit of context, I have generally been underwhelmed by VNs or games like VNs. Danganronpa, 999, Phoenix Wright didn’t grab me as I had hoped, but I played them in the hope that VNs could be amazing. The concept of VNs really appealed to me, all narrative and none of the gameplay found in other games to get to the next plot point. I mean I love games in general, but some gameplay can just be really boring. VNs just let you cut to the chase.
Steins;Gate then is the best story I’ve read yet. It’s so amazingly well planned and designed, and one of those stories that I know I could never write in a hundred lifetimes, so I’m thankful somebody else created this masterpiece. Now I know what people in the 15th century would have felt when they saw the sistine chapel for the first time.
Not only is the story well planned, but as a time travel story it invites the reader to follow along and try to piece out the steps making sure that the causality is not broken and that the plot points are correct. That extra level of complexity makes it fun and involving. And when you go back and read it a second time or watch the anime after, you can really tell every sentence is carefully worded to not give too much away.
Then there’s the science aspect, the game designers have said it’s “99% science, 1% fantasy” which suits me perfectly. There’s a ton of detail involved, particularly scientific detail about time travel, like multiverses, relativity but its all explained in laymen terms, and really easy to follow. There’s a glossary that explains all the terms both scientific and cultural ‘otaku’ terms one might not know. A lot of the cultural ones are genuinely funny.
And like any well written time travel saga, it has emotional resonance. You know, the best kind of emotional resonance that you can only find in time travel stories. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there are six endings and they were all interesting and very different from each other.
So why not give it a go? It’s now also available on Steam, though I played the Vita version and I think that one is the best because its such a great experience on the handheld. The only minor negative is that I think it does pander sometimes to the otaku/fanservice audience with “suggestive themes” and artwork. Its pretty minor, but it is there.
Score: 10 out of 10