Steins;Gate – Chapter Three

Steins;Gate Film Poster

Things have started to happen! The story is getting exciting! The big “Jellyman” reveal at the end of this chapter was super dramatic.

I’m about seven hours into the game. I checked a few forums to figure out how long it takes to finish, and people seem to be averaging between 35 and 40 hours to get the good ending.

I remember having read somewhere that there are multiple endings, but I didn’t know much else about the game going into it. There’s an anime adaptation, but the quality of the first two episodes was so poor that I’m not interested in watching the whole thing. In order to prevent myself from spoiling the story, I didn’t search for any information about the game. However, after consulting a walkthrough linked from various forums…

…I’m starting to think that perhaps I should have.

Let me explain how the branching choices in this game work.

Most of the action, which occurs in the form of illustrated dialog, takes place on the main screen. Text appears in a box at the bottom, and character illustrations appear against a background above the text box. Every once in a while, a flash of text at the top of the screen will inform the player that a new term (which has just appeared in the dialog) has been added to the “Tips” (glossary) section of the game menu, which can be pulled onto the left side of the screen with the square button.

The triangle button calls up the main character’s cell phone, which the player can use to read and respond to text messages. The player is notified of a text message by a ringtone, but it is entirely possible to ignore all of the messages that the game’s script doesn’t forcibly require the player to engage with. The player is usually given two or three choices regarding how to respond (although not all messages can be responded to), and these choices are indicated by underlined blue words or expressions in the message. Selecting one word or expression over another triggers a variable response.

Since these responses don’t seem to affect the story playing out on the main screen at all, I assumed that they were merely flavor text. This is not the case. Apparently, the player receives points (or “flags”) for the various characters in the game that determine which character’s ending the player will see.

In any case, these choices are in no way binary or attributed with any moral value, so I can’t imagine how anyone would figure out what specific choice or set of choices triggers a specific ending. I suppose someone somewhere was intensely devoted to obsessive replays and note taking, bless their heart. I’m only going to play this game once, so I guess I’ll see what ending I’ll get.

If Steins;Gate is 35 hours long, and I’m playing an hour a day, it will take me four more weeks to finish the game.

( Header image from skyholic on Tumblr )

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