The Science Adventure series of visual novels were popularized by the release of Steins;Gate and subsequent sequels. Before Steins;Gate, the science fiction series kicked off with Chaos;Head in 2008. After many years, Chaos;Head finally comes to the west with an official English release, Chaos;Head Noah. Nintendo Switch players also receive Chaos;Child for the first time in the Chaos;Head Noah / Chaos;Child Double Pack. These sci-adv thrillers blend science with intriguing fantasies to create some of the most vivid and intense visual novel experiences yet.
Chaos in the Head
The first game in the series tells the story of Takumi Nishijo, an otaku shut-in with constant signs of paranoia for the world around him. During the course of his Shibuya high school life, the New Generation Madness (shortened to NewGen) is taking over society and social media. Nishijo slowly remembers his lucid past while combating against modern Japanese society to remain true to his otaku nature. For better or worse, Nishijo’s own delusions and paranoia begins to bring him closer to the truth of the murders. At the same time, Nishijo begins to deal with his own feelings toward the friends he makes and the ones he cherishes the most.
Chaos;Head Noah makes the player think about what’s real and what isn’t quite often. Nishijo’s delusions are a part of the narrative itself as the player may choose to rely on a Positive Delusion or Negative Delusion. Believing in the delusions makes them real to Nishijo and may even lead to different events and outcomes. With each gruesome murder and discovery, the player begins to notice what’s actually real and how Nishijo should proceed. Additionally, Chaos;Head Noah adds different perspectives from supporting characters such as Rimi, Kozue, and Nanami to fuel Nishijo’s inner turmoil. The game becomes a shocking and unhinged tale of society’s technological misdeeds.
Chaos;Head Noah has a total of nine endings determined by the use of Delusion Triggers and choices made throughout a playthrough. Although the Delusion Trigger is key to reaching all endings, the first main route is locked in regardless of its use. Subsequent playthroughs become more complex as reaching different endings requires specific Delusion Triggers in various chapters. Fast forwarding through chapters becomes tedious, but there are plenty of scenes and outcomes to pursue for the true end.
Chaos;Head Noah tracks progression within the Extras menu. In Extras, players can view CG galleries, endings, and bonus illustrations. Throughout the course of the game, keywords are recorded to provide more context behind subjects such as Japanese slang or scientific concepts. Reaching each ending may take some perseverance since many scenes are revisited. Thankfully, the skip button is very convenient for multiple playthroughs and each route has sufficient content worth exploring.
Children of Chaos
Six years after the events of Chaos:Head Noah, a new string of NewGen incidents takes a hold of Shibuya society. Enter Takuru Miyashiro, a third-year high school student and leader of Hekiho Academy’s newspaper club. Takuru is not a paranoid internet addict like Takumi, but his delusional prowess plays an important role all the same. Takuru shares some of the otaku tendencies Takumi displayed in Chaos;Head Noah, but Takuru is more level-headed and complex as a character. Playing as Takuru provided an intriguing change of pace as a detective-like protagonist.
The events of Chaos;Child are directly tied to the aftermath of Chaos:Head Noah. At the very least, obtaining a few of Chaos:Head Noah’s endings provide sufficient context for the subjects discussed in the sequel. Delusions are a focal point of the game once more, but investigative elements like the Mapping Trigger adds a new dynamic into the mix. Players can expect more of what they enjoy from the long-running Science Adventure series, and Chaos;Child absolutely delivers.
Chaos;Child has six endings with the true ending being unlocked after the completion of five routes. The first route is locked in just like Chaos;Head Noah, and the additional five routes may be obtained afterwards. Fortunately, unlocking each ending is much easier this time around, and there are six pages worth of save slots. Chaos;Child features roughly 40 to 50 hours of story content, so it’s more extensive than Chaos;Head Noah. Multiple bad endings are available if the player is not careful about important decisions.
Throughout the game, the player will also receive tips just like in Chaos;Head Noah. In Chaos;Child, players now have access to these tips at any time by pausing the game. This is useful for gaining immediate context after a term first appears in the text. The Extras menu is inaccessible from the start of the game, but it’s available once the first route is completed.
The Switch Experience
The Switch’s portability greatly compliments visual novels such as Chaos;Head Noah and Chaos;Child. Chaos;Head Noah was remastered for the first time in 1080p using the MAGES Engine. As a result, the vivid illustrations and scenes made for a compelling visual novel journey on Switch. Chaos;Head Noah is an engaging title, but the English release has a few flaws worth noting. The version 1.0 release contains a few misspellings and a bug that prevents progress during the true ending’s final scenes. Players may also notice some inconsistencies in terminology while playing Chaos;Head Noah.
Chaos;Child for Switch appears to be consistent with the Steam version released in 2019 for the most part. Unfortunately, Chaos;Child contains some misspellings throughout the course of the playthrough, and a strange bug occurred in Chapter 5. Although the bug was temporary, it caused the game’s script to proceed out of order with text from a prior Delusion Trigger. Hopefully, post-launch patches will fix these issues so players can proceed without interruptions. Aside from the aforementioned issues, Chaos;Child was a seriously great game.
Chaos;Head Noah and Chaos;Child needed more polish before release, but the visual novels are quite enjoyable nonetheless. The availability of Chaos;Head Noah in the west allows players to finally dive into the Science Adventure series from the very start. Many twists and turns await in these visual novels, and the unnerving moments create a thrilling experience that keeps the player coming back for more. Coincidentally, Chaos;Head Noah and Chaos;Child have charming qualities that complement the horrors of delusions. Chaos;Head Noah / Chaos;Child Double Pack is worth considering for visual novel fans who haven’t had the opportunity to dive into the series yet.
Disclaimer: Spike Chunsoft provided Final Weapon with review copies of Chaos;Head Noah and Chaos;Child for Switch.