Since Steins;Gate came out on the Xbox 360 and PC years ago I've heard people rave on and on about how mature it is, and how it breaks the mould of the visual novel.
I'm not convinced though. At times, Steins;Gate is flippant, macabre, and distasteful in equal measure.
You're stuck in the shoes of protagonist Rintaro Okabe, an immature university student who spends much of his time thinking aloud and fancying himself as a mad scientist. Thankfully, the supporting cast don't take him too seriously, and occasionally bring him down off his high horse.
Despite his flaws, Okabe manages to fashion a time machine out of a microwave that lets him send text messages, and eventually memories, into the past.
Using this, Okabe can time travel to prevent certain events from taking place, which is the focal point of the branching storyline.
If I could find a way
Okabe lives in Akihabara, the tech capital of Tokyo, and this is where much of Steins;Gate is set. Anyone who has visited the area before, in real life or Akiba's Trip, will recognise many of the landmarks.
If you're looking for a visual novel that doesn't require much player input, this may very well be up your street. It's not uncommon to be reading dialogue for over half an hour without having any say in the storyline.
Using Okabe's mobile phone is the only way you can influence the course of events. You can ignore calls, but this may affect how the story branches off.
More input's required when you receive texts, as many messages will allow you to highlight particular phrases you can focus on in your reply.
I'd take back those words that hurt you
My issues with the game stem from being stuck in Okabe's head. He has a monstrous personality, objectifying and even assaulting characters as the game unfolds. You can do very little to prevent these events, which left me feeling mighty uncomfortable.
The translation lacks the polish you'd find in most handheld titles, feeling more like a fan-translation. This isn't necessarily a negative, as fans of the genre may be used to such trappings. It's also quite clearly American English, despite no American release date for the Vita version having been announced yet.
The secondary characters are all fairly interesting, ranging from a crossdressing cosplayer to a grumpy old codger who runs a specialist CRT TV shop. Thankfully the game keeps its original Japanese voice over.
And you'd stay
While your first run will probably come in at around 20 hours, depending on your reading speed, you can work through subsequent playthroughs much faster with the fast-forward option.
The game will slow down when you need to make decisions, making life a whole lot easier for completionists.
It seems quite clear that the target audience for Steins;Gate is the staunch Japanophile, and that audience will most probably get a kick out of it.
But even with all my weeaboo leanings I found it a little too much at times.