Chaos Child is a visual novel game and is part of the science adventure visual novel series by Mages Inc. Mages Inc, or more specifically, their gaming division 5PB which also created Steins Gate. The novel sets up its own story and lore so it is accessible to newcomers. Chaos Child is darker and edgier than other Science Adventure games.
Chaos Child is set 6 years after the first game Chaos Head but has a new cast of characters, making it more accessible to new players. However, it also has callbacks from the previous game for veteran players to enjoy. Chaos Head was the first entry of the science adventure games and this is the fourth main entry to the games. The story is set in 2015 Shibuya, which has been rebuilt after being destroyed by a massive earthquake. Strange events started happening in the city on separate occasions and they all seem interconnected. In addition, people seem to acquire psychic powers.
Chaos Child is a very long game with an intriguing and intricate story and deep lore. The pacing takes things easy unfolding slowly and allowing the plot to develop. The graphics and the art style of this game is highly detailed and the character models were all unique. The characters and the backgrounds both blended in quite seamlessly and the cutscenes and visuals were superbly executed as well. The detailed crime scenes were gruesome and quite unnerving. Shibuya looks like the real city at the time the game was created, even more so than The World Ends With You. Each background felt unique and intricate and the use of lighting and shadowy effects in certain areas of the game was perfect.
The game’s dark atmosphere combined with elements of science fiction works well together. There are subtle changes to the feeling of the story, one part can be lighthearted slice of life where the other part is a dark and brooding noir stylized. There is a lot of horror and psychological suspense and additional neo noir thriller elements in this game.
It focuses on many different themes both established in Science Adventure and also new themes. Weather is the overarching theme as each game in the science adventure series uses weather as a setting for the story. This game has stormy weather. PTSD is common theme as this deals in the after effects of characters who experience grisly events from or survived horrific natural disasters.
In Chaos Child, those who grew up after the Shibuya earthquake are known as the Chaos Child generation and they suffer from a form PTSD due to the after effects.
They basically live a life that is normal to others but they don’t appear to be aware of the surroundings or what is happening to them and are zombie like. The most notable thing about them is their elderly like appearance and there is no cure for their malady.
The game focuses on being able to alter the realities around you. Tragedy and loss are very common place throughout the game as many people died during the earthquake and many more are still feeling the after effects of the devastation.
A common theme is this game is Giglomania. Giglomania refer to those who have their psychic powers awakened. It allows people to see things that normal people would never be able to and wield a special type of sword know as a D-Sword, which is connected to the Dirac Sea. “Errors” are co-related to Giglomania as these are how D-Swords are summoned and with the use of D-Swords delusions can be transformed into reality.
The overall story and concepts of the game were highly engaging and it felt like a complete story from start to finish. The main character is Takuru Miyashiro, an anti-social and cynical student who surprisingly, is the president of his high school newspaper club. His family died during an earthquake in Shibuya and since then he has been on his own splitting time between his foster family and living in a trailer in Miyashita park.
One of the most notable aspects of his character is that he is pretty heavily fixated on the news media and visits just about many different forms of news media from tv, internet and the newspapers. He is what can be considered as a “Information Otaku”. Because of his cynical nature, he never takes anything at face value and he sees himself as the smartest person in the entire room. To him, almost everyone else is naïve and uninformed or part of the problem. He refers to them as wrong siders, people who are purposely naïve, ignorant and gullible. Takuru is cowardly and gets overwhelmed by crowds.
He is a perfectionist and has a great eye for detail. He is highly skilled in the use of technology especially in research and his investigative skills are superb. He criticizes fads and trends around him and is highly intelligent. The main reason he is the president of the newspaper club is due to his inquisitive and intelligent nature. His main goal is to debunk lies and to find the truth of the matter. He considers the mainstream media to be biased, agenda pushing and in the pockets of the wealthy elite.
Takuru Miyashiro small Newspaper club is an independent, fact and evidence based journalist group with no personal agenda focused on delivering the unbiased facts and truth of events as they occur. Takuru investigates a mysterious case known as Return Of New Generation Madness, a serial murder case. These murders were very similar to a previous set of murders that happened before the events of the game and the murders have become viral on the internet. At the same time, a mysterious case of sumo stickers that are appearing all across Shibuya that appears to be related to the case. This eventually leads to a much larger conspiracy theory relating to the world of science adventure.
It is clear that a group is behind the events and they are also investigating the murders but they have their own purpose. In the series, there is a mysterious group known as the “Committee of 300” based off a real life but false conspiracy theory where said group are in control of many different aspects of the world.
Committee of 300 motives are not clear until the very end and the game does a good job in keeping the villains motives hidden and not revealing who they are.
The game has a much smaller cast than other Science Adventure games works in order to focus on a more personal story.
You need to pay close attention to clues in the dialogue and the media to figure things out for yourself. The dialogue is well written and the use of Japanese terminology and Japanese internet slang fit right in with the game especially how its themes are related towards communication and various forms of media. Looking at various forms of media is an important part of the game. You look at sites like @chan which is based off 2chan/futaba, a Japanese anonymous image and messaging board site that’s focused on underground and otaku culture of Japan. In addition, you have to look at other off topic features like news and Niconiya which is based off Japanese video streaming site Nico Nico Douga. These various sources contain topical information from events that has happened and presented like how it would have been in real life. They also contain clues on events origins and whenever you are finished reading, you can pop out anytime you like.
Delusions are a form of psychological illusions that happens to certain kinds of people in the series. It can be either erotic and sexually driven or it can a really dark and disturbing scenario. Negative delusions are the worst case scenario one can think of. One has Takaru using a pick up artist magazine “Cool Cat” to try and get his way with women such as trying to forcibly kiss one, using eye drops in food to make a woman aroused only for her to be killed by poisoning and her body is twisted and her eyes are on the back of her head with blood stains all over the place. There are multiple other negative delusions all showing equally horrific things happening to Takuru or his friends. Sometimes he is the perpetrator and others he is the victim.
Positive delusions show Takuru being successful with women and they fall in love with him when he acts like a gentleman. Positive delusions occur during key parts of the story, while having conversations or during actions where you start to experience hallucinogenic like thoughts and either a red and blue hue starts to show. Pressing either l2 or r2 can trigger either delusion positive or negative. You can also use the d-pad on the controller to choose the type of delusion. Both positive and negative delusions show the inner workings of Takuru’s mind.
These delusions will come more and more into play in the next playthroughs as they will help you reach the true ending of the game. This also affects the players world view to either a more optimistic or pessimistic one and can also affect the relationships between characters. Different delusions allow you to go on separate chapters to get the different endings in the game in order to reach the true ending.
The plot twists are subtle and unpredictable and the stakes get higher and higher as each chapter progresses. It does a really good job at shocking the viewers on certain mysteries or crimes. The voice acting is in Japanese but the dialogue translation and voice acting is really good. The way the characters express their emotions and facial expressions felt very natural. There was the occasional mistranslated text hiccup and inconsistences in the dialogue but for the most part the game does not feel like it was westernized.
One such instance where there was a mapping trigger in the game and the locations of Shibuya was untranslated in English and I had to look up information on Shibuya in real life to figure out the puzzle. Mapping triggers are where you have to piece the crime scene photos and story events in a chronological order. They are used to trace the locations of where and how a crime was committed in order to get a clearer picture of each murder case. You are given countless tries in most mapping trigger events and you can read the transcript at anytime to see if you can find a clue.
Each piece of crime scene photos and written notes of events are placed from left, middle and right and you have to place the right one to the map. You have to select the right photo from either left, right or middle sections and each mapping trigger has its own piece of evidence from the sections mentioned. Completing them will allow you to progress through the story but certain ones can lead into bad endings if you are not careful.
In the first play through, you go through the main story. It is linear by its design but this gives you a chance to get familiar with your surroundings and experiment with the delusions system. In the other playthroughs you have to experience more of the other decisions that were not made previously and you learn more about what has happened during the events of the game.
Affection points begins to unlock once you open up a new save where you can bond with your fellow female classmates in the newspaper club or in the story.
You can select the true route after playing through all of them and you can see what has happened through the main menu. Multiple endings occur depending on your actions and multiple different playthroughs are required to see the true ending of the game. Each ending shows even more information about the world of the game and it all weaves into a much bigger conspiracy. Each individual route feels like a complete story and it makes sure that everything is interconnected instead of having any loose ends unresolved.
The character development in the game is subtle and it happens bit by bit where you learn more about the characters past and their true goals. The characters were all multi-dimensional rather than cartoonish.
The dark and brooding musical score by science adventure composer Takeshi Abo had an eerie and creepy feel. It fits perfectly well with the overall atmosphere of the game.
There is a lot of replay value and extra content in this game. You can view through the backgrounds, rewatch cutscenes, endings and also listen to the in game soundtrack. You can listen to voice clips of the characters you encounter and read their backgrounds during the extras features.
The user interface was easy to learn and to get through and entries were very well detailed and it is easy to go back and forth through the different categories. The information given was easy to follow and learn especially with the harder science fiction elements in it.
Periodically you gain tips which relate to in game lore or real life topics especially underground Japanese online topics. Phantasm, for example, is a gothic punk group that is part of the underground scene in the Chaos Child universe and some of their songs can be heard through the soundtrack of the game.
The game goes above and beyond with changing the names of the original products just to make it fit into the world of Science Adventure series and it does so successfully and there is no trace of forced in product placement in the game.
The game does have comedy to balance it out either lighthearted or dark depending on the circumstance and both are mixed in perfectly. Deadpan humor like sarcasm is often used to convey the criticisms Takuru has about the world that he lives in. Otaku oriented lighthearted comedy would be reserved for positive delusions. Black comedy is reserved for negative delusions with topics like rape, suicide and being killed in macabre ways.
The game had seamless load times and there were no glitches. The large number of multiple save slots was very useful so you can be able to create many playthroughs without having to sacrifice one or the other. The game has a lot of multiple options with the audio. You can speed up the dialogue in order to fit your own pace of how you want the story to be presented.
The true ending of the game felt sort of sequel baiting and inconclusive in contrast to the other endings which clears up any loose ends from the first playthrough. The main villain and his group, The committee of 300 not only got away with most of their actions, but this contradicts the games main goal of finding out the truth and they decide just to cover up everything. Plus with Takaru taking the fall for the murders, even though he was not necessarily the killer, and him being in prison for a long time also did not really made much sense. Takuru’s covering up the events and spreading false information was really out of character for him so this was a bit inconsistent.
Gameplay was minimal and there should have been more gameplay and story interactivity in it. Psycho Pass, another visual novel game by mages has a lot more gameplay interactivity and ways to proceed through objectives it would have been perfect for Chaos Child to have the same level of interactivity as Psycho Pass.
Overall this was a very excellent visual novel and I as highly content with my experience it was really a perfect visual novel game.
It gets about 5 stars out of 5.
This is one of the best visual novels I have played along with Danganronpa and Trace Memory. For my first science adventure game, I highly enjoyed it and was very content to experience how Mages Inc really helped evolved the Visual Novel genre with its Science Adventure series.
I am now highly invested and engaged to playing different kinds of visual novels Mages Inc has created and I look forward to seeing where else can the visual novel genre can go. I am also interested in trying out the more technological separate entry visual novel Anonymous Code as well whenever I do get the chance to play it. That is if it does not take a really strangely long time for it to be translated into English considering how notoriously long it takes to translate the science adventure games.