REVIEW: Chaos;Child

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

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Chaos;Child | Delusion Trigger

Somewhat more prominent than the small icons in the corners of the screen from Chaos;Head.

Functionally, the Delusion Trigger system is the same as in Chaos;Head: at certain points in the story, the player chooses a positive delusion, a negative one, or neither. However, the visual effects are completely different; while Chaos;Head had small icons in the corners of the screen, Chaos;Child has large graphics that occupy the edges of the screen, which move to the middle when selected until the delusion itself starts. During delusions, the edges of the screen are covered with a waving border, colored teal for positive delusions and red for negative ones. It’s much clearer about when it’s available and what’s happening than in Chaos;Head, and also reflects the overall aesthetic of the game better. It’s an interesting replacement for a regular choice system and makes it somewhat less clear how to access the characters’ routes, at least until you try it once.

In addition to the Delusion Trigger, Chaos;Child has the Mapping Trigger system, where the player compiles information about the case by attaching photos or notes to specific places on a map of Shibuya. It helps the player recap and keep track of what’s happening, as well as the murders from Chaos;Head. It helps the player feel involved with the mystery and investigation process, more than one might ordinarily if there was only reading. Ultimately the Mapping Trigger isn’t a huge part of the game, but it’s a nice touch regardless.

Chaos;Child | Hinae back sprite

It’s always a nice touch when visual novels have back sprites.

In general, the presentation of Chaos;Child is very impressive and well-done. While the art style is very different from Steins;Gate, the sprites are animated the same way, with the characters’ mouths moving along with their voices as they speak. The art style is similar to Chaos;Head, although somewhat more mundane than the unique style of Steins;Gate. There’s a surprising amount of flexibility in the way the game can set up scenes, with the variety of sizes and positions the sprites can take as well as each character having a back sprite. There’s also the tips list to provide in-universe definitions as well as explanations of things like internet slang, technical details, and other information. There are also some smaller touches, such as the auto-skip remaining active even during unread text, so it can automatically resume skipping once the player gets back to unread text.

The translation isn’t perfect. There’s several errors scattered throughout the game, mostly incorrect word forms, missing spaces, and unnecessary or missing punctuation. On top of that, there are several cases where the text in the text box is different from what’s shown in-game, such as the chapter titles which include an English title, generally similar but not identical to the localized chapter title, and a Japanese title which translates to something different. There are also some cases where text in the background isn’t translated while it is at other times, as well as two lines of untranslated text at the end of the main route. The errors in particular somewhat break immersion, and a patch to fix them at some point would be appreciated.

Chaos;Child | Typo

One of many unfortunate errors in the text.

All the voice actors play their parts well, especially considering how emotional the characters get in certain scenes. The soundtrack is solid, with a few tracks, in particular, standing out from the others. The vocal themes are particularly impressive; the PS4 version I played includes both the original Xbox One version opening “Fictional Youth” as well as the PlayStation version opening “Singularity”, both sung by Kanako Itou, also known for singing the openings for other Science Adventure works including Steins;Gate anime opening “Hacking to the Gate”. Other than that, the background music does a good job of accentuating the variety of tones at play in different parts of the game.

Chaos;Child is one of the more substantial visual novels out there, with all the endings and some time spent trying to figure things out taking over 50 hours in total, and the first playthrough alone taking just over 30 hours. It’s a good amount of content for $59.99 USD on PS4 or $39.99 USD on PS Vita. However, it didn’t feel that long; it’s an intense and engaging mystery-horror, paced just right to keep it from getting exhausting to read. The characters are all well-developed and get their chance to shine in their own routes. However, I wish the translation was more polished, and that it was a bit clearer how to access one of the character routes. That being said, it’s still a good read for fans of murder mysteries or of the rest of the Science Adventure series, and one that I fully recommend.

Review Score

Review copy provided by publisher

About Chris Melchin

Chris is a computer science student who has been gaming ever since he knew what to do with a Super Nintendo controller. He's a fighting game player, with a focus on BlazBlue and Under Night In-Birth games. His favourite games include Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Persona 5, and Little Busters. He started watching anime in high school, and his favourite series is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. He also writes Vocaloid music for his personal YouTube channel, and has a (slight) obsession with Megurine Luka.

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