Steins;Gate is the second game in the Science Adventure series of visual novels written by Naotaka Hayashi, set in the same multiverse as Chaos;Head and Robotics;Notes. The game was co-developed by 5pb. and Nitroplus and was initially released for the Xbox 360 in Japan on October 15, 2009. Ports were later released for the PC in 2010, PSP/iOS in 2011, PS3 in 2012, and PS Vita in 2013. The game's success has led to the creation of several other spin-off titles that have established Steins;Gate as it's own franchise outside the Science Adventure series.
In June of 2011, a group of fans began creating an unofficial English translation patch for the PC release of Steins;Gate. Unfortunately the project was cancelled in January 2012 but a rough incomplete draft of the team's translation was released to the public in September 2011. In 2013 JAST USA announced at Anime Expo that they would be publishing Steins;Gate in the West and that the script was being translated by the same group that created the 2011 fan patch. JAST USA published three different releases of Steins;Gate with a limited edition and a download version released on March 31, 2014 and a regular physical release published on April 30, 2014.
The game is set in Akihabara, Tokyo, during the summer of 2010, and follows a group of friends who have modified a microwave to send mobile text messages back in time. The inventor, Rintaro Okabe, is a self-proclaimed "mad scientist" who believes that the international scientific organization SERN (based on CERN) is conducting their own time travel experiments and conspiring to reshape the world according to its own interests.
The discovery and experimentation of this instrument become the catalyst of fundamental alterations to the present. Okabe is the only one aware of these changes because he possesses a Reading Steiner, the ability to retain the memories from previous experienced timelines. Oblivious of the consequences of their actions, Rintaro and his friends end up creating modifications of grievous proportions.
This eventually causes SERN to take notice, placing the lives of his fellow lab members in danger. Rintaro Okabe must use his time-altering capabilities in order to escape SERN's attention while keeping his friends away from harm.
Similar to other visual novels, Steins;Gate consists mainly of reading text with the player only directly interacting with the game through choices that impact the branching narrative. However, these choices are not made through the usual menu prompts, but are instead made using the player's cell phone. "Phone Triggers" will appear at certain points throughout the story where the player can choose to answer a call or reply to emails. Depending on when the player answers the phone and how they respond to messages will cause the narrative to branch towards a number of different alternate timelines and possible endings.
- Rintaro Okabe: The main character. He is an 18 year old, first year college student who thinks of himself as a mad scientist, and uses the alias Kyōma Hōōin. Voiced by: Mamoru Miyano.
- Kurisu Makise: A skilled neuroscientist who had her research published in an academic journal when she was only 18 year old. Called Christina by Okabe only. Voiced by: Asami Imai.
- Mayuri Shiina: A childhood friend of Rintarō's. Works at a maid café called Mayqueen Nyannyan and enjoys making cosplay costumes. Her nickname is Mayushii. Voiced by: Kana Hanazawa.
- Suzuha Amane: A girl searching for her father. Works for Rintarō's landlord and doesn't like Kurisu. Voiced by: Yukari Tamura.
- Ruka Urushibara: An effeminate boy who wears girls' clothes. Mayuri often asks him to try on her cosplay costumes. Voiced by: Yū Kobayashi.
- Faris Nyannyan: The most popular girl at the Mayqueen Nyannyan maid café. Her real name is Akiha Rumiho. Voiced by: Haruko Momoi.
- Moeka Kiryu: A tall, very shy girl who prefers to communicate via text messages. Is called Shining Fingers by Okabe due to her speed texting. Voiced by: Saori Gotō.
Since Stein;Gates' release the game has been adapted into a variety of other media, including manga, novels and even an audio drama. A Steins;Gate anime was also created in 2011 by White Fox and was 24 episodes in length. The show was simulcasted in English on Crunchyroll and was later licensed and released by Funimation Entertainment on DVD and Blu-Ray in 2012. A movie titled Steins;Gate Fuka Ryōiki no Déjà vu was produced the following year that expanded upon the ending of the television series and was also licensed by Funimation in 2014.
Steins;Gate and its anime adaptation have both been highly acclaimed.
The visual novel received critical praise from various Japanese game reviewers, including 4Gamer, ITmedia Gamez, and particularly Famitsu which gave Steins;Gate the "Game of Excellence" award. In 2011 Steins;Gate was voted #6 in Famitsu's poll of "Most Tear-Inducing Games" of all time. Square Enix producer Tomoya Asano praised the game's characters and scenario, which led to Steins;Gate writer Naotaka Hayashi being recruited to pen the plot to Bravely Default: Flying Fairy.
The anime adaptation of Steins;Gate has also been well received. Anime News Network gave the series an overall A- rating, with top marks awarded to its story, and the show is the highest user-rated anime on the site. The Digital Fix gave the English DVD release a score of 8 out of 10, with a 9 out of 10 for the show itself. Doctor Who TV gave the anime adaptation a score of 25 out of 30, making it the site's highest-rated time-travel fiction, above the films Terminator, Back to the Future, and Groundhog Day, the anime Future Diary, the shows Quantum Leap and Heroes, the game Shadow of Memories, and the novel Time Machine.
The 2014 English release of the Steins;Gate visual novel was also well-received. It currently holds aggregate review scores of 86% and 87/100 on GameRankings and Metacritic, respectively. On Metacritic, it is currently the sixth highest-rated PC game of 2014, and the third highest user-rated PC game of 2014 so far. It received a perfect 5/5 score from Twinfinite, concluding that it had "excellent characters," a "well-written narrative," "good time-travel," "perfect voice-acting," and a "unique and beautiful art style." But the game's length was criticized for being "very long."