Title: Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace
Release Date: December 10, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft
Genre: Visual Novel
I am a massive fan of the Science Adventure series. It’s got a modern-day setting with loads of fantastic characters who are weaved into all sorts of insane stories with tasty pseudoscientific and mystery elements. Clearly, the best way to follow up these games is with spinoffs that eschew the serious narratives and replace them with those of a romantic comedy. However, the three that exist had been locked only to the Japanese. Until now.
Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace is the first of these to be officially localized and takes place in a different universe to that of the original Steins;Gate, so don’t worry about canon because canon means nothing when you can ROMANCE WAIFUS.
Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace stars the mad scientist Honouin Kyoma, who has his eyes set on world domination. Wait, that’s not right. Our lead character is the recent high school graduate Okabe Rintaro, a young man who spends 90% of his time making useless contraptions and role-playing as a mad scientist. Okabe and his friends, who are basically all massive nerds with one particular focus or another, run a small “laboratory” on the second floor of a CRT TV shop they rent out from the owner and use as a hangout.
While developing an invention, the group accidentally creates a time machine. However, that’s not really important because they can’t change much as fate won’t let them exploit it for massive monetary gain. That’s a big problem actually because as the lab members are mostly high school graduates, they aren’t exactly rolling in cash, and the lab is, well, bankrupt. Someone needs to pay the rent after all. The only question is how.
My Darling’s Embrace starts with a great common route that has the crew coming up with all sorts of ideas before you get a choice that leads into your heroine routes. There’s a substantial amount of foreshadowing for each event, along with time shenanigans, the routes all have an amount of both drama and wholesomeness I didn’t quite expect going into this.
Sure, it’s not on the same level of storytelling as the original Steins;Gate, but there are some decent moments of storytelling here. The returning writers seem to have put some real effort into this. They even kept the phone trigger, allowing you to send and receive emails, so no character was ever totally left out and fulfilled my daily urge to listen to “Find the Blue.”
While the game reuses nearly all of its art from the original Steins;Gate, there’s a bunch of new CGs that make the romance routes unique. The illustration puts a significant focus on pinks that gives them a cutesy feel within a messy color palette. I feel it doesn’t work quite right all the time, but hey, it’s more art of your best girls, so I think it’s a minor point. I think the best new CGs are the ones that don’t have this effect, which makes them stand out.
A decent amount of music has also been remixed for this release, as composer Takeshi Abo takes the helm yet again with several new and remixed pieces of music to keep the audio spot on. There are about ten new instrumental tracks, as well as three songs to be added to the growing master soundtrack. At this point, we might as well call it the Compilation of Steins;Gate, right?
I don’t see this game being picked up by anyone who didn’t already care about Steins;Gate. Those who would see My Darling’s Embrace and willingly play it without caring for the original title would make up such a tiny section of a venn diagram, I didn’t know they existed. It’s a game for the fans who want to see these characters in additional materials without getting their souls crushed.
Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace is a good serving of fluffy cotton candy to go with whatever other sweets you can gather. Getting to experience a story in this world that didn’t leave me heartbroken was worth every minute of this adventure. The added benefit of getting to romance the heroines was just the icing on the cake.
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