When it comes to visual novels, story telling is important and so is the writing. If both of these things are not as strong, the visual novel can still survive with its characters development but somehow it is rare to get a visual novel which manages to tick most of the check boxes for the genre offering an experience that not only is thought provoking, but with plenty of twists in between letting you keep guessing the plot on every turn.
Chaos;Child, as seen by the name, is a part of a specific set of scientific visual novels including Steins;Gate. It is also a sequel to Chaos;Head even though the game is entirely playable without having to deal with story in the first game. As a visual novel, there is not much to have in term of the art and instead more focus is placed on the writing which helps you get immersed in the story rather easily. You will have to rely on the description of each action that plays out and then use your imagination to fill in the gaps and even if this might not sound as great, it honestly works perfectly with the way the game attempts to combine the description of each scene and mixes them with sound.
Chaos;Child has a rather brutal opening. The story begins with the recount of events happening in the fictional version of Shibuya ward. An earthquake completely destroys major part of the city leading to a lot of deaths and injuries and the cause of the earthquake remains unknown even years later. The people who have managed to survive through this earthquake suffer PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and some of them are labeled as Chaos;Child. The city is rebuilt but the cause of the earthquake remains a mystery because of the way it was triggered, which never felt natural to those witnessed it.
The opening prologue deals with the mysterious death of a video streamer and blogger who has the ability to correctly predict future events. His death is rather brutal and the game doesn’t shy away from explaining the detail of his death down the the last brutal moment, even if it doesn’t show much of it. The actual story begins with the main protagonist, Takuru, as he attempts to solve the murder mysteries occurring all over his city. Takuru studies in a high school and in his spare time, he is also incharge of taking care of the school newspaper along with his friend Itou.
Chaos;Child presents a rather interesting premise for the story right from the start which helps you keep focused on the mystery. The main story is divided in various chapters and each deals with a particular story narrative which helps in keeping the pacing of the story. Despite having no detailed explanation on its mechanics, the game adds an interesting dynamic during certain story sequences that lets you provide two different outcomes for the plot. You will be presented with the choice of either picking a positive or negative response to a characters in the story and depending on how you reply to them, the outcome of some of the particular characters might change in the story. This is never explained as a gameplay mechanic in the game even though you can clearly see it in action, but I had to rely on a combination of trial and error to figure out this system on my own.
The approach to a positive and negative response is always interesting to see and in case you are interested in a replay for the story, you can quickly skip through most of the dialogue with the press of a button making it ideal for replay value. I really enjoyed how the developers have taken the time to explain some of the keywords that are frequently thrown in the game. There is a fictional take on the real life social media and platforms that is integrated into the game and it is easy to figure out most of them e.g Twitter is changed to Tweeter and similarly Line to Rine. The developers have then added detailed descriptions of these keywords that you can easily access in the game and it is always fun to read them thanks in part to the excellent localization.
Chaos;Child is one of the better visual novels that I have played this year. It might not come close to the greatness offered by something like Steins;Gate but if you are starving for a great story to play through on the PS4 or PS Vita, it can prove to be a worthy contender. The dynamics of the multiple paths that change the direction of story are interesting to experience and add to the replay value if you want to go through a story again with a different outcome for characters.
Chaos;Child Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Chaos;Child is a visual novel video game developed by 5pb. It is the fourth main entry in the Science Adventure series, and a sequel to Chaos;Head
Chaos;Child is not just a visual novel but a commentary on how technology has changed our lives. The game excels at story telling and presents a dynamic branching narrative offering sufficient replay value.