Steins;Gate is the second game in the Science Adventure series of visual novels written by Naotaka Hayashi. 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 spin-off games including a dating sim named Steins;Gate: Hiyoku Renri no Darling, a non-canonical 8-bit styled sequel called Steins;Gate 8-bit, and an alternate retelling of the original titled Steins;Gate: Senkei Kousoku no Phenogram.
In June of 2011, a group of fans began creating an 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. At Anime Expo 2013 JAST USA announced that they would be officially releasing Steins;Gate in the West. The official translation was worked on by the same group that created the 2011 fan patch and featured a newly redone script.
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.
Like many visual novels the player makes dialogue choices that impact the game's branching narrative. Based on the player's choices, the narrative can branch out in various different directions 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. 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. 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. Voiced by: Haruko Momoi.
- Moeka Kiryu: A tall, very shy girl who prefers to communicate via text messages. Voiced by: Saori Gotō.
Since Stein;Gates' release the game has been adapted into a variety of other media, including a successful anime series, a manga series, an audio drama, and an upcoming printed novel.
The Steins;Gate anime was created by White Fox in 2011 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. There is also an anime film currently in production that will be set after the events of the television series.
Steins;Gate and its anime adaptation have 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.