Stein’s Gate PS Vita Platinum Review

Stein’s Gate is an amazing journey that I would highly recommend to anyone looking to play a visual novel. Although it is a little slow to start, it soon transforms into a rollercoaster of an experience. Each of the character routes feel purposeful, although they do not always have the happiest of ends. The only route I think is unnecessary is the regular Kurisu route, given that the true end route is almost identical, with additional content. I understand that it is meant to build atmosphere, but it doesn’t seem that crucial to me. Although as a bit of a completionist I still played through it.

This is the story of Okabe and his secret lab, accidently stumbling upon the secret to time travel, and getting themselves into a serious pickle. Until Okabe is forced to make a decision that could tear him apart. A combination of sci-fi, comedy and drama.

It consistently has well written and fleshed out characters and the plot, despite being a time travel story, has very little incongruence or confusion. Despite the fantastic array of characters shown throughout, for me the main character Okabe is the most stand out. Visual Novel protagonists rarely have much of a personality, it is too often the nature of the beast. Okabe is a quirky and likeable protagonist. He is relatable, flawed and all too human. To see this reflected so well in a format where the decisions are made by the player, is incredibly refreshing.

However, there are a number of moments where the story tries to be too gritty, and in those moments Okabe comes off as annoying and unlikable. This isn’t done too often, and was removed in the anime. There are also a number of moments where I questioned the choices Okabe made that weren’t optional, however these choices fit his character well and keep the story on the right path.

The reveal of new information is always exciting, revealed information is usually set up well in advance, so that even the most surprising of reveals fits neatly into the world of the game.

The use of otaku culture as a staple throughout the VN, is a fun and eccentric way to create quirky characters, which many of the players will be able to relate to. The language and themes are used to engage the audience and make the situation feel realistic.

Faris and Mayuri work at a maid cafe.

Interaction was a simple and elegant system. Stein’s Gate doesn’t use the classic dialogue choice system, but instead employs interactions only through use of the Protagonist’s phone.

The art style is quite different from the anime’s, being quite unique compared to any visual novel. It’s difficult to say which I prefer, given that I enjoyed the crispness of the anime’s art style, but the VN had a more raw and emotional feel to it that I haven’t seen reproduced. The CG’s were gorgeous, and I wish that there were more in the story.

An example of the anime’s art style.

The music was emotional and compelling, serving a purpose and helping to drive the story home.

I think that even those who’ve seen the anime, should play the visual novel as well. It displays heightened characterization and offers extra information about the world.

As a whole I thought that Stein’s Gate was a well written and well thought out Visual Novel adventure. A unique experience amongst many VNs.

Stein’s Gate is available on a number of different formats including PS3 and PS Vita. I played it on PS Vita and would recommend this format as the portability of the system makes it great for Visual Novels. Stein’s Gate was so absorbing that I didn’t want to put it down, and I didn’t have to.

Stein’s Gate Elite is being released soon, a remake of the original that makes use of assets from the anime. I’m looking forward to playing it, however I would continue to recommend the original.

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Platinum Review: Freedom Wars

Having achieved the platinum trophy for Freedom Wars on the PS Vita I now feel confident in reviewing it.

Freedom wars is a game with interesting and challenging action oriented gameplay. The fights have enough complexity and freedom of choice to make it quite a lot of fun. Giant robots are generally the main target and missions often require the rescuing of innocent citizens from their clutches, however there are occasionally small human enemies that can sometimes be tricky to deal with. The thorn in particular is worth mentioning and is a gameplay feature unique to this game, although still perhaps comparable to other grappling features from other monster hunting games. The thorn is a brilliantly executed gameplay tool, with many different uses. The progression is fair and provides a perfect challenge. Despite being a JRPG grinding is not all that necessary. However I would highly recommend playing online as soon as the option is available because of how brilliant this feature is and the leg up it provides in future battles. The community is mostly rather friendly and forgiving, and honestly worth getting to know.

At the start of the game you are given an accessory, a robot which will act as both your prison guard and your protector. While the accessory cannot be directly controlled it can be given basic orders during gameplay, as can the AI teammates provided. You get to customise your own character and your accessory in this game on every level, and while not the most important aspect of the game it is rather extensive and worth playing around with so that you can show off in the multiplayer.

The premise of Freedom Wars is a fascinating one, however the story, sadly has very little to do with it. The premise is extremely well presented at the start and makes it all feel real through an immersive and clever system of restrictions with which you need to work at the beginning. However the immersion disappears very quickly as restrictions are lifted and the story takes over from the premise. The concept of a world imprisoning citizens and turning them into soldiers to fight for resources, could have become a brilliant story with branching paths but was instead tossed aside for a nonsensical plot about magical ghost girls and alternate realities. I also would have loved to see some greater characterisation of the teammates provided for your character, as they mostly seemed too simple to really matter.

I think this image is a good example of the atmosphere that the premise provides.

I should also mention the cell garden. Because missions in the cell garden are a massive pain. They are, however mandatory.

The hardest trophy for some is the DIY Demon trophy, which requires upgrading a weapon to level 10 by harvesting the right resources from the correct places. However, the trophy that I struggled with was Pelta Pelter, which requires you to defeat the final mandatory boss of the game offline without dying once. For some reason I really struggled with this because it was just far too swift and had too great a reach. Even with speed boosting stats and maxed out weapons I only just barely managed to get this trophy.

Finally got it!

Although lacking a new game+ I would say that this game has a high level of replay ability, due to the many missions available and the constant room to improve or upgrade gear. Even greater challenges await within the many retribution missions available, but the multiplayer is in my mind the best reason to pick Freedom Wars back up off your shelf.

 

Feel free to leave a comment about Freedom Wars down in the comment section.

 

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