Throughout the years we have seen many versions of Steins;Gate arrive in the West and most recently Spike Chunsoft has even brought the Nintendo Switch version of the darker sequel Steins;Gate 0 to the Nintendo Switch after releasing it on other platforms years prior. However alongside this darker release the company also brought a game that fans in the West have never been able to play that is far more comedic and light-hearted in nature, even compared to the original game. Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace has finally made its way to English audiences and embraces the more comedic side of the story by focusing on giving players the chance to experience the game as a romantic visual novel rather than a drama. So with plenty of popular characters that fans have known for years now given their own routes, is Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace a worthwhile spin-off?
Although Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace is quite different from the original and 0, it still relies on the player already having previous knowledge about the series to best enjoy. This is primarily due to the fact that, as a romance game, players will be watching the story unfold around their favorite characters and knowing what happens in the series is mostly required for the best experience here. That being said, this version doesn’t have as much of a barrier to entry primarily due to being more comedy and character oriented rather than focusing on world threatening plots and dark twists.
Okabe Rintaro may suffer from some extreme delusions of grandeur but if it is one thing that his Future Gadget Lab has managed to accomplish, it is creating a way to manipulate the past through D-Mails, text messages that can be sent to the past to change the future. Generally only Rintaro is able to recognize that the world has shifted due to the groups’ actions but this time around things are different. Not only does he find himself in the middle of a party where the lab members are unveiling a slew of odd gadgets that they have been working on that Rintaro doesn’t remember but also the “official lab mems” now include a variety of other characters that he doesn’t remember letting join.
Like many visual novels, especially ones focused around dating, Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace features a lengthy and very enjoyable common route that sees Rintaro, and the player, experiencing a number of events that appear quite different from the normal timeline, including the creation of bracelets that tie Rintaro and Kurisu together or risk electrocution if they argue or get too far away from one another. This strange turn of events gets the ball rolling on the numerous comedic events and back and forth banter between characters fans have come to love through the core series.
This focus on humor and character interaction is at its best here and when players make their choice to go down any of the multiple story routes available, the chosen girl will be given even more time to shine, giving fans of the series a chance to see just how things end up between Rintaro and the various girls around him. The actual choices to enter a route are as simple as one may expect in dating visual novel so players won’t need to worry too much about complex choices outside of one specific route that does take a bit extra to obtain.
It is worth noting that there really is no high stakes drama to be found in Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace as the shocking twists that saw the original’s goofy antics turn serious don’t exist here, instead players will find comedy and romance as the main goal here. This may divide some fans but those looking for more of their favorite characters will be pleased with what is on offer here, especially when it comes to a few routes in particular that truly shine apart from the rest. We won’t say who exactly, but two of these characters’ routes are an extraordinary read and will certainly delight any fan of the series.
In many ways Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace still plays similar to the original release with players having access to Rintaro’s cell phone during all conversations in the game. The cell phone can be accessed at any time during dialogue and players can even respond to various text messages they receive from characters within a certain period of time. As mentioned before, the actual choices players make that play a role in the game’s routes are mostly simple in nature so don’t expect too much complexity here.
The TIPS section once again makes an appearance and allows players to read up on various phrases and science terms that are spoken by the characters in the game. These range from being tidbits of info about real items and locations to internet slang to completely fictional science and objects created in the game’s universe.
Visuals & Audio
Returning fans of the series will be delighted to hear that the art style remains the same here as many of the character portraits are as detailed as before, though they may simply be re-used from the original release, but alongside these standard character portraits comes a slew of new CGs that appear throughout the story all matching the same quality fans have come to expect from the series. These include various ones that appear throughout the common route to ones that are only unlocked on specific romantic paths so players will need to play through a few times to unlock everything. That being said, the UI does seem to have been given only the briefest of thoughts in this version as it is kept to a bare minimum, even on the menu screen.
Once again all of the original Japanese voice actors have reprised their roles here in this spin-off which is presented with Japanese voice over only and as far as the soundtrack goes, there are a few tracks that appear to be re-used from the core game but a number of new tracks have been added into the fold as well to better match some of the themes of this spin-off.
Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace may not have the twists that the series is known for but what it does have is the same quality of writing that fans have come to expect from the series. This does mean that the game is a bit simpler as a whole but it is also one that lets fans see some of their favorite characters in a mostly brand new story that is filled with signature comedy and helps expand upon some characters more than they ever were before, especially in the case of a few outstanding character routes.
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