Chaos;Child by developer MAGES. and publisher Spike ChunsoftNintendo Switch review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Chaos;Child is the sequel to the visual novel Chaos;Head (Noah) taking place approximately 6 years after the events from Chaos;Head. Chaos;Child is a visual novel containing a graphic murder mystery with sci-fi aspects to it that takes off right from the start. While having an interesting cast and a better implemented trigger system, Chaos;Child can get a bit frustrating due to localization and translation choices.

Chaos;Child picks up six years after the Shibuya Earthquake, a key event from Chaos;Head (or Chaos;Head Noah, the remastered version you can check out a review for here). After much rebuilding, Shibuya is getting back to normal, or at least as normal as it can be. Enter Takuru Miyashiro, a highschool student and the president of Hekiho Academy's Newspaper Club. Takuru learns of the mysterious deaths that have started happening, and is eager to investigate and report them. Together with the help of the other Newspaper Club members, as well as others he meets along the way, Takuru wants to get more information about the mysterious deaths.

Throughout the visual novel of Chaos;Child, you will follow along with Takuru, the rather self-centered protagonist of the game. Takuru tends to view the world around him, and others as well, as either those who are woefully misinformed about basically everything, or "wrong-siders", and those who use the information at their disposal to have the "most correct interpretation" of things, or "right-siders". What this sounds like is that Takuru has a personal penchant for wanting people to properly use terms and knowledge. It's actually a lot more self serving than that in reality however.

Much like Chaos;Head, there is a blend of murder mystery with supernatural and sci-fi elements, including a return of the delusion trigger system, albeit much better implemented, but still with a lack of any real explanation if you don't check the help system. Unlike Chaos;Head however, Chaos;Child starts out with some rather gruesome deaths, as well as the introduction of a possible mastermind, getting you thrown into the action quite fast. While Chaos;Head was a bit of a slow buildup, Chaos;Child elects to try and keep things more eventful throughout, at least as much as possible.

Chaos;Child follows in the same visual novel style as Chaos;Head with the game progressing as heavily written text throughout. It is a novel after all, just with pictures and voice-overs. Making a return is the delusion trigger system, or "simulations" as Takuru prefers to call them. Every so often during the story you'll have a point where these two red and blueish green circles will appear on-screen, denoted as negative and positive respectively. The circles will then drift to the right and left of the screen. You can use the triggers on the Switch controllers, ZR and ZL, to activate these circles, which will cause a bonus scene after the current segments of text finish. These scenes are delusions Takuru has about the situation he is currently in. You can also opt to not activate a scene and remain grounded in reality. These delusions are important for seeing different endings, so on second or later playthroughs you want to pay a little more attention to these, although there's no reason you can't view them on your first go through.

While the delusion trigger is a mechanic that is making a return, a new mechanic is also introduced in Chaos;Child. Occasionally you will have a sort of "mini-game" where you have a board, pictures, and information lined up. You have to select clues to make associations to points that you are currently interested in. This is a nice way to break up the pace of the game, and to get you to interact with it more instead of being too text reliant.

Unfortunately, there are a few areas where Chaos;Child tends to fall flat. As a visual novel, the two most important aspects are most likely storyline and text. While the storyline is interesting, and has a lot of twists and turns to keep you entertained, the text is a little bit of a struggle at times. Now, what I mean by "text" is a combination of localization, translation, and formatting. Since I just finished Chaos;Head Noah and came straight into Chaos;Child, I'll be using them as a comparison, with CH and CC as short forms for a bit. In CH, the biggest issue I had was that it would occasionally be difficult to figure out whether the main character was talking or not if you read through the text faster than the voice lines. In CC they've made this clearer even if you aren't playing with the sound on.

Translations between the two are pretty similar in quality, at least from my understanding. If there are any terms that aren't understood, they are usually added to a TIPS section you can access at any time in the pause menu, in order to read up a bit about the term. Where CC tends to fall a little is in the formatting and general grammar department. Text wrapping is a big pet peeve of mine. When words are too long to fit in a text box, you want them to go to the next line. Chaos;Child does this, but completely ignores most grammar conventions to do so. If you have a contraction like the word "wouldn't" that hits the end of a text box, you would not split wouldn't at the apostrophe and send the " 't " to the next line. That's dumb, and it frustrates me.

Furthermore, there were a lot more noticeable grammar and spelling mistakes in CC than I found in CH. Add to that, whenever someone is cut off or makes a gasping noise, normally you would write it out as "wait a minu-" for getting cut off or as "…!" as a gasp. Whoever was in charge of the formatting decided that neither of those were acceptable, and decided to instead just end sentences with no indication of why, and to forgo the ellipses points. What this makes is a really frustrating reading time, as you occasionally struggle to figure out if there's a typo, or if it was done on purpose.

The image and background quality seems to have made a bit of an improvement in Chaos;Child, which I'm happy to see, and the background music is still as atmospheric and fitting as ever. Honestly, if Chaos;Child weren't a translation project, I feel as if it would be a lot better than how I felt. While the story is engaging and characters are interesting, I just felt a lot less invested due to a combination of formatting issues in the text heavy setting. Adding to this are some discrepancies between Chaos;Head and Chaos;Child localization choices, such as the phrase "whose eyes are those" becoming "whose eyes…those eyes" just feels like it detracts from the experience as a whole, especially when you consider that 98% of the game is going to be text.

While Chaos;Child may suffer a bit from some poor localization and text formatting decisions, the story is rather unique and engaging, leading to a fascinating murder mystery full of twists and turns. While I would suggest going through Chaos;Head Noah (or the non remastered version even) before going through Chaos;Child for a little more backstory and context, Chaos; Child still largely works as a standalone title, and will be a good choice for anyone looking for a grittier visual novel experience.

Score: 7 / 10



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