It is a good time for people who love visual novels. Many publishers are taking chances on the genre. This means there aren’t just indie games or smaller titles showing up on PCs, but actual console games being treated as major releases. One of the most famous is the 5pb and Nitroplus Science Adventure line. Though, many may not know it as such. This is the name for the series that includes games like Steins;Gate and Chaos;Child. In the last few years, multiple entries in the series have been released outside of Japan, which means its the perfect time to go over this thrilling line.
What does Science Adventure even mean?
Good question! Every entry in the Science Adventure series is a science fiction game. Most of them are thrillers. All of them get into all sorts of scientific, technical details. Some of the concepts discussed are based on actual properties and theories. But then, things go off into left-field in a very fictional exploration of how such things could work and what they could do. In some installments, things can seem downright supernatural.
Since we’re talking about shared properties, now is a good time to go over other weirdness you will encounter in the Science Adventure games. While each one is a visual novel, the way you make choices and influence the story can be rather unusual. In the Steins;Gate entries, deciding to respond to text messages can alter the storyline. In the Chaos;Head line, it comes down to whether or not you choose to experience different sorts of delusions. Robotics;Notes uses Poke-com Triggers and decisions to use apps to impact storylines.
Finally, all of these games are set in the same world. They are loosely connected. You may not actually see people from previous installments and of course don’t need to know anything about past installments to enjoy the experience, but you might hear references to certain characters or notable places.
How many games are there?
There are currently five entries in the main series. All told, this comes out to two Chaos; games, two Steins; installments and one Robotics; title. These are the ones you want to pay attention to, especially since some have been localized and released worldwide.
Chaos;Head (Windows, 2008)
The very first Science Adventure game follows some supernatural assaults. Takumi, a high school boy living in Shibuya, gets caught up in the New Generation Madness murders. He discovers that some people around him are capable of using their delusions to shape the world around them and give themselves extraordinary powers. Whether you view or ignore his own delusions will shape the events of the game.
Chaos;Head has never received an official localization. However, since its debut, it has appeared on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, and Xbox 360, as well as Android and iOS devices.
Steins;Gate (Xbox 360, 2009)
Ever heard of Hot Tub Time Machine? Well, Steins;Gate sort-of involves a microwave time machine. Rintaro Okabe, a young man who proclaims himself a mad scientist, has created a Mobile Microwave that sends DeLorean Mail text messages into the past that have the potential to alter the timeline. But there’s another organization, SERN, that is also researching time travel…
You can play Steins;Gate in English on multiple platforms right now! It is available on PlayStation 3s, PlayStation Vitas, PCs and iOS devices. The game is also available on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Portable and Android devices in Japan.
Robotics;Notes (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, 2012)
To keep his school’s robotics club open, Kaito and Akiho must build a mecha, and use it to win the Robo-One tournament. Only then will the vice-principal agree to their budget. Oh, and both of the teenagers suffer from after-effects of an Anemone-gou Incident that makes it seem like time is slowing down (Kaito) or speeding up (Akiho).
Robotics;Notes is only available in Japan. If you don’t have a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 to play it, you can also pick up a PlayStation Vita port.
Chaos;Child (Xbox One, 2014)
Six years after Chaos;Head, more murders begin occurring on the anniversaries of the New Generation Madness killings. Takuru, a member of his high school’s newspaper club, and his friends are investigating these incidents and attempting to get to the root of the problems. Once again, people who can use delusions to influence reality are having a negative impact on the world around them.
Hey! Chaos;Child is out worldwide now! It just launched on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. Though, people who can understand Japanese can also get it on the PlayStation 3, PC, Android devices and iOS devices.
Steins;Gate 0 (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, 2015)
Did you like Steins;Gate 0 and hope one of its best endings was the canon one? Sorry, but canon says there was a sadder fate in store for the characters! This entry takes place in the Beta worldline after what could only be considered a bad end in Steins;Gate. Okabe has really grown up and matured, but he’s also quite depressed after events of the game. He ends up as a tester for the Amadeus AI program. But even though things should be settling down, he finds himself caught up in parallel realities again.
If you have a PlayStation 4 or PlayStation Vita, you can play Steins;Gate 0 in English immediately. It is also out on the PC and Xbox One in Japan.
Some new games in the series and a similar series have been announced too! Occultic;Nine will appear on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Xbox One in Japan on November 9, 2017. Anonymous;Code is planned for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Switch. Robotics;Notes Dash is going to be a sequel to Robotics;Notes. There will even be a Steins;Gate Elite eventually! However, it is important to note that Occultic;Nine and Anonymous;Code are not technically part of the Science Adventure plot and timeline, as they are Science Visual Novel games, but have a similar sort of setting and Science Adventure is considered a fictional series within its world. Robotics;Notes Dash and Steins;Gate Elite are part of the series.
There are also some spin-offs, but none of these have been released outside of Japan. Some are comedic dating sims, such as Chaos;Head Love Chu Chu! for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, and Xbox 360, Chaos;Child Love Chu Chu!!for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, and Steins;Gate: Darling of Loving Vows for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, and iOS devices. These give people the chance to enjoy character relationships without any… complications. Steins;Gate: Linear Bounded Phenogram is a supplemental PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360 and iOS game that tells stories about different characters from the series in different timelines. Steins;Gate Variant Space Octet is a retro-inspired, text-based adventure game following the events of the original game.
What if I am interested, but hate visual novels?
I completely understand. Visual novels aren’t for everyone. Fortunately, these series are so popular that they have anime series, mangas, light novels, OVAs and other forms of media retelling the tales. Even better, you can find some of them in English! Even for games that haven’t been released outside of Japan! The 12-episode Chaos;Head series was taken care of by Funimation in the U.S. and Manga Entertainment in the U.K. The same companies also took care of Steins;Gate in their respective regions.
Funimation has handled other Robot Science-inspired movies and shows. It picked up Steins;Gate: The Movie – Load Region of Deja Vu and the 22-episode Robotics;Notes too.
The remaining anime series have been picked up by other companies. Crunchyroll took care of Chaos;Child. As for Occultic;Nine, Aniplex America handled the 12-episode run.