The visual novel Chaos;Child is a fantastic story about a high school newspaper club caught up in the mystery surrounding some horrific murders. Although the beginning can take a while to lay the foundation for the rest of the tale, it should not be missed by anyone who has been looking for a new visual novel to experience. Oh, did I mention is was created by the people who made Steins;Gate?
The dialogue in Chaos;Child is read in Japanese with subtitles, and the voice acting is fantastic. You can advance the conversation by clicking the “X” button on the controller, or you can map it to the left and right thumbsticks.
You can control parts the story by using the Chaos Triggers. There are certain times in the game when you can pick from a negative or positive delusion. They let you influence the game. The positive delusion will usually be something nice for you to talk about or do. The negative trigger would sometimes kill characters or went to some very dark places.
At the end, Takuru would seem to snap out of it, and mention that it did not seem right. You can also choose to avoid the triggers entirely. Influence your story however you want, but I found the negative delusions to be much more exciting.
The visuals are mostly still images of the place you are visiting or the person speaking. There is a little bit of CG, but it is infrequent. Some are far more detailed than others, and the art is fine. This is still not a game to showcase your new 4k TV.
The sound and music are decent as well. Although there is no standout track, the melodies convey the mood of the game without being a nuisance. The sound itself was good with doors opening and other effects to accompany the images.
The story is the main part of the game, and it is good. It starts with a strange earthquake that devastates Shibuya, Japan. Even six years later, the cause is still not understood, but the city has completed much of the rebuilding effort. Life seems like it is back to normal, and everyone is looking forward to the festival that will celebrate the restoration.
While the city may have moved past the tragedy, something from the past will come back to haunt them. A series of gruesome murders is being covered up as suicides. They are occurring on the anniversary of murders that happened six years ago before the earthquake, and they may hold the key to understanding what happened.
Out to prove himself, Takuru Miyashiro is the head of a newspaper club at a local high school in Shibuya, and he was directly impacted by the earthquake. He and the rest of the newspaper club will be joined by a cop and a very unfriendly scientist as they try to determine why these weird sumo stickers have started appearing in the city after six years, why the murders are happening, and to stop them, before they become the next victims.
The premise of the story is exciting, but it takes a while to really get going. The very beginning of the game is a prologue of sorts, and it hooked me immediately. After the first 20 minutes, we meet Takuru, and the game shifts into setting the foundation of the story. This part is necessary, but expect it to be a very slow burn in the beginning.
Chaos;Child is not a brief six-hour jaunt through the story. This is a lengthy game, so I understand why they took their time to set the stage. Even though it seems like an odd tonal shift to what appears to be a slice of life story after the beginning, it fits, even though the payoff is hours in the future. In fact, there were a few times I was reminded of the setup from The Usual Suspects.
Each character in the game is developed over the story, from Takuru’s childhood friend, Serika, to the overbearing student government member, Kurusu, and even his best friend, Itou. Everyone has a role to play, and you may not see it until much later.
Chaos;Child is not a happy-go-lucky adventure. In some ways, Takuru’s interactions with the world, and the rejection of the ideas of the “wrong-siders” (the term he gives to people with a limited understanding of information) would be closer to the normal struggle that so many kids have growing up. His challenges to try to find the right way to ask a girl on a date as well as some of the trauma in his past propel him forward as an interesting and relatable protagonist.
By far, the biggest compliment I can say about Chaos;Child is that it was really surprising. I had no idea what was going to happen, and that is a wonderful feeling. Once the story was setup, I was mashing the controller to see the next twist and turn, and there are plenty.
I do not want to ruin it, but there is a shocking scene later in the game. While pursuing another person, I was sure that we would be able to stop a murder from occurring. I was thinking, “No! No! No!” in my head as I kept moving closer to the revelation. Not only did it happen, but I said, “They actually did it” out loud.
The game has multiple subplots, but, even though the game is set in 2015, one of them is almost a commentary on today. It deals with how people are being manipulated with false information and making wrong choices based on that information. Not to be political, but with our obsession over fake news and using the internet as a single source for our opinions, it was interesting to see how it could be used to damage a town and sway the thoughts of thousands. Maybe that theme is eternally relevant.
The one big complaint I have with Chaos;Child is the translation. There is a Mount Everest of text in the game, but I would find misspellings, duplicate words, and one instance of the wrong character being named. It was not on every screen, but it happened here and there throughout the game.
It can be overlooked, but it is the main way you interact with the game. It hurts immersion. Worse still, there are a few places where there is no text at all. For one example, I saw the text a character said in one place originally, but the flashback to one scene never adds the text.
The worst part was at the very end when a character is speaking to another. I have no idea what she says, and it is really frustrating. It doesn’t change how I much I enjoyed the ending, and with multiple endings, you may not have the same issue. It is just really annoying.
The rest of Chaos;Child is still good enough for me to recommend it to anyone who loves a good visual novel. It has the right combination of mystery and thrills to keep you going after the slower beginning, and, if you see the same ending I did, it will more than make up for any problems you encounter.
Chaos;Child Review PS4
Overall - Very Good - 7.0/10
CHAOS;CHILD is an exciting visual novel about a group of high school kids who are investigating a series of murders. Although the beginning is a little slow and the translation could use a little polishing, it delivers on a great story with many twists that fans of the genre will really enjoy.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.