07th Nov2017

‘Chaos; Child’ Review (PS4)

by Matthew Smail

chaos-child-ps4

Set loosely in the world of Steins; Gate (if only because it has the same weird approach to naming), Chaos; Child is the direct sequel of Chaos; Head. The game takes place in a Japanese suburb known as Shibuya and the opening scenes of the story advise the player of a suspiciously localised and terribly powerful earthquake that occurred several years prior. Set in 2015, Chaos; Child paints the picture of a sparkling and revitalised Shibuya, but beneath the surface, a whole generation is still in mourning.

Against this backdrop, a series of grizzly and often unexplainable murders begin to occur. Playing as school newspaper reporter and internet weirdo Miyashiro Takuru, we pick up with him embarrassing himself in front of lifetime friend and awkward love interest Serika. Before long, the rest of the newspaper club is assembled and we’re on our way to the next murder scene in order to crack the case.

Bearing in mind that Chaos; Child is a visual novel, this tale unfolds via reams and reams of dialogue, some of which is voiced in Japanese. Localisation of the written content is actually quite good, with the kids speaking in relatively nuanced, colloquial English that, whilst occasionally janky, remains consistent and therefore creates a decent sense of immersion.

Visually, the game is left largely to the imagination. Many passages of text can be delivered across just one background image, all of which are decent enough and set the scene, but rarely incite any kind of shock, awe, excitement or whatever. Sometimes, an anime character will pop up on screen and some animation will feature, but it’s pretty limited when it does happen.

The main issue with the amount of dialogue and the lack of onscreen movement is the fact that it makes Chaos; Child feel incredibly sluggish. Some scenes seem to last for ages and I must admit, there were large sections that I skipped though simply because the lengthy exposition about some incredibly minute character detail was too much for me to bear.

Thankfully, the one variable feature that Chaos; Child does offer is that of positive or negative delusions that align to the current on-screen event. You can only choose one or the other, with positive delusions usually resulting in a young lady doing something semi revealing to arouse Taku and negative ones resulting in some rival or nuisance being brutally murdered.

These delusions are interesting and increase the play time, although the main bonus of seeing them is that the content tends to be more interesting than that of the vanilla “standard” outcomes. Regardless of which delusion you choose, you won’t actually change anything though and Taku will always snap out of them and see the standard turn of events anyway. I felt like this was unfortunate, as actually being able to influence the outcome in a visual novel is rare.

As a story, Chaos; Child is quite interesting and I enjoyed the dark, foreboding atmosphere and learning more and more about the inventive nature of the murders and, erm (no spoilers) how they were occurring. The cast also becomes likeable as you spend more time with them, so I also found myself becoming more and more engaged with the side stories and interests.

Honestly, if the idea of a visual novel doesn’t appeal to you then I am not sure there is any reason to dive into Chaos; Child considering it has a fairly high RRP, but if you are a fan (or a lover of anime) then there may well be good reason to give it a go. There is a lot of sexualisation and silliness that stems from Taku’s oversexed teenage brain, but it is nowhere near as bad as it is in many other anime titles, so it didn’t bother me much. All in all, a solid visual novel as far as I am concerned, but not a great game.

*** 3/5

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