Arguably one of the biggest struggles for anyone in a creative field is making multiple successful creations. For every example of a developer like Naughty Dog, there are more than 10 examples of later projects failing to hit the mark. For 5pb this has always been the struggle with their science adventure series of visual novels. While Chaos;Head was good, but not great, they hit it out of the park with Steins;Gate. Naturally, now all the science adventure games, which the semicolon indicates, are associated with that one adventure, so much so the marketing for Robotics;Notes Double Pack outright mentions the association. With that history and a familiar face, is it enough to give this adventure life or does it fail to achieve the same highs?
Similar to the other science adventure titles, Robotics;Notes Elite, and DaSH both have rather limited gameplay. These adventures are, first and foremost, visual novels and you need to be willing to invest the time if you want to enjoy them. As a result, a lot of your fun hinges on how much you’re willing to invest, something that is rather hard with both titles in the Robotics;Notes Double Pack.
Unlike the ever-popular Steins;Gate, the adventure in Robotics;Notes Elite takes a while to hook you. Initially, you’re introduced to Kaito Yashio, known simply as Kai, who is a member of the school’s robot club. Everything is presented in such a generic way that it makes the wait for the more interesting aspects, such as them making a robot or the supernatural elements, that much is harder to wait for.
Unfortunately, Robotics;Notes Elite falls into the usual traps follow-ups to successful projects make. When you take a step back, it’s easy to see some similarities between the main cast and those in Steins;Gate. The difference is characters like Kai struggle to make it past the annoying phase and develop beyond gamer with some eccentricities living in augmented reality to an interesting character. It’s something that happens over the course of the game and it eventually makes for an interesting story, assuming you’re interested in more of the inner workings of reality than the twists and turns you’d find in previous adventures.
In the follow-up, Robotics;Notes DaSH, we return to the adventure sometime after the climactic end with a Daru the Super Hacker, from Steins;Gate, joining the cast. On the surface, this is an adventure that follows a very predictable path. Following his defeat, the original antagonist returns, and the team, plus Daru, need to deal with him again. Instead of a very pointed story, as we saw with Steins;Gate 0, it’s more of a roundabout adventure leading to one of a handful of endings.
For most people, the enjoyment of Robotics;Notes DaSH comes from the true end. The conditions for that are essentially beat it and complete every optional ending, though it contains elements that touch on the other adventures, meaning you need some working knowledge of the other visual novels to get the most out of it. As a result, you’re basically expected to put in roughly 12 hours of gameplay to get to the best stuff and that is a lot to ask from anyone.
Robotics;Notes Double Pack Review – Verdict
The struggle with Robotics;Notes Double Pack is rather simple. It’s a goofy game with a neat concept, but it takes a while before it catches you. The sequel does a better job of handling this, plus adding Daru to the cast is enough to get fans of Steins;Gate involved, though it’s a big ask. If you’re willing to invest in a new adventure that is more slice of life and less the gripping narrative of previous adventures, you’ll probably enjoy it, otherwise, you might be better off skipping to the end.
[Editors Note: Robotics;Notes Double Pack was provided to us from the publisher for review purposes.]