Steins;Gate is a heavy series. If you are going through the original game or Steins;Gate 0, there is so much to constantly process and consider. The decisions you might make could be agonizing. Especially since the original uses a phone system where determining if and when Rintaro Okabe uses his phone alters the course of the adventure. Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace… isn’t that. This isn’t to say the science fiction elements and technical aspects that make Steins;Gate great aren’t here. They are in their way. Rather, this is a more relaxed opportunity to enjoy yourself and have Okabe get to spend time with Kurisu Makise, Mayuri Shiina, Faris NyanNyan, Luka Urushibara, Suzuha Amane, and Moeka Kiryuu.
The first thing you need to know going into Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace is that you don’t need to have beaten the original game. This all takes place in a Delta world line alternate reality where certain plot points and twists from the main game aren’t factors. Instead, all you need to know is that Suzuha and Moeka members of the lab, Okabe has no idea what is going on, due to winding up in this world line after D-Mail experiments, and the lab is bankrupt and in desperate need of some cash. Fortunately, Daru and Kurisu have been working on Future Gadget 12, 13, and 14.
These three gadgets each help drive the story forward, with Future Gadget 12 being the most important. Darling is an Idiot is a pair of electronic bracelets designed to help improve relationships and prevent cheating. Except Kurisu decided to go a little overboard with its functions by enabling electric shocks and only allowing them to be taken off if the battery dies or the relationship between a pair hits an optimum level. All of its sensors check the wearer’s conditions. Essentially, if the two people wearing it argue with one another, cheat on one another, put distance between each other, or try and take it off, both people get shocked. Holding hands keeps them from getting shocked.
Naturally, these bracelets wind up on Okabe and Kurisu. Electric shocks ensue. So, so many electric shocks ensue.
Since this is a less complicated game, getting onto Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace routes is much simpler. While you can get lots of different mails as you play, with different texts arriving depending on the responses you choose for Okabe, these don’t determine who you spend time with. What really matters for all routes but one are your reactions on August 7th in-game. After the Darling is an Idiot bracelets end up on both Okabe and Kurisu’s wrists, measures are taken to try and rectify the situation. It is the one time where the game automatically opens your phone and selects a contact. From there, the route you end up on depends on how many times you ignore the prompt to send the mail. This changes which message you send out, which determines the route. (Sending no message at all lands you on the first route, which is a good starting place.) An animation triggers and you will know automatically if you are on the new, right course. The only exception is Mayuri’s route, which means not looking at or responding to any texts except for the one sent at 14:10 on August 6th. Keeping up with those August 6th texts that ensue get you on that specific storyline.
Once you start getting into the different Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace routes, you can feel the care going into the characters. Even though circumstances are different for people like Moeka, none of the characterizations feel off. Kurisu and Mayuri’s routes especially feel like they perfectly capture and build on the characters. I was wondering how Luka’s storyline would be handled, given the way things could go in the original Steins;Gate and the nature of the relationship here.
Essentially, I was concerned how Okabe would react, given that he constantly brings up Luka’s gender during the portion before the split. There is a very uncomfortable moment when Luka’s route first begins and Okabe is figuring things out. He also still gets defensive at parts. However, Luka is always very much in-character and Okabe shows genuine concern and care. In fact, as the Luka Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace route goes on, you could see how the two could work as a couple. Okabe notices all of Luka’s positives and quirks, and he’s quick to offer encouragement to support him.
Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace is the sort of game that could be exactly what fans of the series want. It’s like an omake episode of the series. We get to just enjoy spending time with characters from an established series we enjoy. Moreover, it is a series that could otherwise get quite dire. These Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace routes let us forgo those darker moments and enjoy ourselves.
Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC.