I’m still in the middle of recharging my Serious Reviewer Energy after writing my semi-recent Muramasa post so you’ll have to excuse this review for being a touch more light-hearted in tone. But that’s okay because Chaos;Child has plenty of cute girls for us to talk about. And it’s also a pretty decent VN with an addictive atmosphere and a great cast that’ll have you glued to your seat for the most part. Well, until the character routes happen, at any rate. But we’ll get to that later.
Note: Spoilers were hidden via rot13. Like, we’re talking pretty major spoilers here. Obviously don’t read them unless you’re familiar with the VN or simply don’t mind being spoiled.
Chaos;Child takes place in 2015, six years after the events of Chaos;Head. Which I haven’t played so I won’t be able to tell you about all the potential references and such, but what I can tell you is that C;C works just fine on its own and you won’t be lost without knowing what happened in Head. C;C’s story is about Miyashiro Takuru, a high school student who, along with his high school buddies (mostly a harem of cute girls plus the one token male best friend) gets entangled in a bizarre serial murder case where each victim is killed in really gruesome and, dare I say, creative ways. There are also superpowers and silly Power Rangers swords involved and I’m not entirely sure if the latter was really necessary, but hey, whatever floats your boat, C;C.
That aside, C;C is a pretty serious game for the most part, and once the murders start happening regularly, you can almost feel the tension in the air. Having said that… plot-wise, this is one of those games where the journey, I think, is more enjoyable than the final destination. I had a lot of fun reading C;C, I loved the characters, I enjoyed living through this crazy experience with them, with all its tense moments, the tears, the smiles, everything. But that’s it. To paraphrase: it was entertaining, but not necessarily enlightening. For me, at any rate. Essentially, this is a fairly enjoyable and occasionally touching story that’s sadly bogged down by too much filler because of the way its narrative is structured.
In terms of presentation, C;C is quite impressive. I’m assuming they had a sizeable budget. The music eases you into the world, the artwork is stylish and detailed, the characters blink, their mouths move when they talk and even the lighting conditions are reflected on character sprites. Like, if a scene takes place in a dark corridor, the character’s tachie/sprite will also be darker to make it seamlessly blend into the background. The only aspect where I felt the presentation was lacking was, ironically enough, the unique event CGs. Not all of them have this problem, mind you, but generally speaking, the characters look better in their tachie forms compared to how they’re drawn in the event CGs. But other than that, C;C managed to build a great atmosphere and had me thoroughly invested in the plot during the majority of the common route. It’s very good at just pulling you into its world and giving the reader that nice and comfy “living alongside the characters” feeling.
One interesting aspect of Chaos;Child is that at several points in the story, you’ll be given the option to indulge in a positive or a negative delusion. Oh yeah, you have delusions in this game; in fact, the entire storyline revolves around so-called Gigalomaniacs, that is, people with supernatural powers capable of materializing their delusions in the real world. Anyway, the positive/negative delusions are C;C’s take on classic VN choices. Basically, you’ll have the chance to essentially daydream and imagine all sorts of brief what-if scenarios. Some are funny, others are horny, and again others are like something straight out of a slasher flick. They’re mostly pointless and fanservice-y, but their practical function is to determine which heroine route you’ll end up on. On your first playthrough, you’ll be locked into the common route regardless of delusion choices, so you can technically just do whatever you want. However, my personal recommendation is to view all available delusions on your first playthrough, right as they appear. Just pick one, watch it, then reload the game and watch the other one as well before moving on with the storyline. The reason is because once it’s time to do the heroine routes, you’ll first have to Ctrl-skip through most of the common route to get to them, but if you happen to bump into any unwatched delusions along the way, it’ll just slow things down. I mean, just imagine it, you’re speeding through the common route like skip skip skip skip skip and then oh shit here’s a short 2-minute joke scene I haven’t read yet okay now back to skip skip skip skip oh fuck another one skip skip skip skip. You get the idea. You’d basically just be doing long periods of high-speed Ctrl-skipping with the occasional delusion scene you probably won’t even remember the context for.
From time to time, you’ll also have to make some other form of choices whenever Takuru and his crime-solving buds try to piece together clues on a map of Shibuya. These are related to the specifics of each murder case and they’re sort of the game’s way of pop-quizzing you to make sure you’ve been paying attention. I found these parts thoroughly redundant and generally a waste of time because they just make you regurgitate basic information that should be obvious to anyone who hasn’t been sleeping at the wheel. Don’t imagine it like a Phoenix Wright-esque deduction because it’s not even close to that.
Oh, and I’m honestly not sure how anyone is supposed to figure out how to unlock the heroine routes without a walkthrough. It’s usually like “okay, watch every positive delusion EXCEPT for this one and this one” and unless I’m missing something, it’s fairly arbitrary which ones you need. So yeah. Just do yourself a favor and use a guide.
C;C’s plot is alright. I’m not entirely sure if I’m comfortable with calling it a murder mystery, though. Sure, there are murders and there’s a mystery but when it comes to murder mysteries, I’d normally expect something more akin to Kara no Shoujo. C;C is just not that kinda game. In fact, the murders themselves soon become largely irrelevant to the overall plot as the narrative begins to focus more and more on Gigalomaniacs, so if you’re looking for something dark, moody, hardboiled or noir (something like a classic detective story), this is probably not the VN you want. Also, with the exception of one character I really fucking loved (spoilers: lrf V’z gnyxvat nobhg frevxn), the game also lacked any interesting or memorable antagonists. The first big “oh shit” scene of the game ultimately gets defused very quickly with a shoddy and clichéd explanation, and another Big Bad towards the end of the common route (spoilers: lrf V’z gnyxvat nobhg fnxhzn) is just… I dunno. Their motivation/personality was pretty silly. Having said that, the big “main villain” reveal in the common route was done rather well. You sort of figure it out before the characters do (spoilers: I was shouting TBQQNZZVG GNXHEH VG’F GUR SEBT ABGVPR VG NYERNQL at the screen lmao), but the leadup to the reveal is still really tense and I enjoyed it. Unfortunately, the plot also recycles the same type of twist (spoilers: “fbzrbar jub frrzrq yvxr n tbbq thl jnf n onq thl nyy nybat! yr tnfc!”) like half a dozen times throughout the game. Well, okay, so maybe it’s closer to three or four. But that’s still a lot. Certainly enough for the reader to be completely desensitized to it after a while.
The main cast is quite likable for the most part. It’s hard to pick a best girl because they all have their unique charm, honestly.
Serika is Takuru’s childhood friend and an angel. She says “okay” in a really adorable way. Her ehehe giggle is cute. The way she sometimes starts a sentence with “u?” is cute. Everything about her is cute. I wasn’t sure how much I’d like her during the common route but in the true route (which is her route, by the way) she completely won me over.
Nono (more like Yesyes) is the type of character I adore in most VNs, including this one. I love mama goose big sisters that act all protective and shit. They’re like my Achilles’ heel. God I love Nono. One of my favorite scenes with her is when she asks Takuru to just talk about his day at school. And she just sits there and listens attentively to every word. I mean, that probably doesn’t sound too interesting when it’s written down like that but trust me, it’s a very heartwarming scene. The whole brother and sister thing she had with Takuru was insanely cute, but then again, I’m a sucker for anything that has to do with family stuff. Her route is maximum spoiler central so it’s probably best I don’t talk about it too much. Let’s just say it continues with the “family” angle and includes some pretty surprising reveals.
Arimura “I want to lick every last inch of her body” Hinae is the character that I’m assuming is most people’s #1 pick for Best Girl due to her wacky antics and upbeat personality. Oh and her moefang is cute and she makes good faces. Probably fucks like a tiger, too. Her route does have some mild icharabu/romance in case you wanted to see her and Takuru become more intimate. It also reveals the reason behind her powers and is probably one of the better side routes, all things considered; I quite enjoyed the way it delved into Hinae’s past and the events that shaped her personality and outlook on life. As a side note, Hinae has some of my favorite delusion scenes. The one where she makes Takuru read raunchy BL lines is gold.
Uki is the token smol grill. She’s timid and polite and ridiculously huggable and has a cute frog backpack. I repeat, she has a frog backpack. BITCH HAS A FROG BACKPACK. Her route is not that great imo, but one of her endings (the one with the shadow) is actually fairly eerie in a good way, so I liked that.
Hana is an Excellent Girl, and not just because her tracksuit says so. She’s also a hardcore gamer so don’t piss her off unless you wanna be pwned in CS:GO. Whoever was responsible for choosing her VA, by the way: you did a fantastic job. Hana’s voice is lovely, and it makes perfect sense for it to be lovely. You’ll understand when you get to her route. As for the route itself, it’s… well, it’s not good, but it sure is… different. Yeah. Let’s go with that. The main villain of the route is also one of my least favorite characters in the game and the ending is very abrupt and unsatisfying. But Hana’s voice makes my pp hard so there’s that.
Mio is not a heroine but I wished she was. She starts out as a cunt and continues to be a cunt for most of the game but I ended up seriously falling in love with her for some reason. I’d poke her grumpy cheeks and she’d break both my arms in retaliation but I’d just smile and nod and go ufufu Mio-chan you’re so cute today ufufu. She made me wish this was an 18+ eroge because I’m sure her sex moans would’ve been exquisite. Can you tell I’m really horny for Mio? Yeah? ‘Cause I’m really horny for Mio.
There’s also a loli waitress who seriously needed more screen time.
Okay, so let’s talk story structure. The way this VN works is that you’ll finish your first playthrough and get… an ending. It’s more like a non-ending with a big ol’ TO BE CONTINUED metaphorically plastered all over it. A cliffhanger, essentially. In order to see the continuation, also known as the True Route, you’ll first have to read all the heroine side routes. All of them. No exceptions. The majority of these side routes are rather redundant, with only Nono’s containing what I’d consider to be plot-critical reveals, so most of the time you’ll probably feel like you’re wasting your time on filler fluff while your mind’s going “look I just wanna see how the common route continues please just let me see how the common route continues please”. At least that’s how I felt.
While I really enjoyed my first playthrough of the game, my reading pace and general motivation to continue plummeted once the aforementioned side routes rolled around. The common route kept escalating things and ended on a high note, but with every side route completed, my excitement began to gradually cool down, and by the time I finally got to the true route, it was lukewarm at best. And I think this really hurt the finale because fucking around with the side routes sort of killed the momentum of the story. What they should’ve done is somehow integrate Nono’s route into the main story and make the other ones optional. The good news, however, is that the side routes are actually fairly short. Each one is about as long as a single chapter in the common route.
I wasn’t sure how to feel about that extra last-minute curveball twist they added in the true route, by the way. I was kinda like, whatever. The ending of the route was nice, though. At first I thought it was a bit anti-climactic, but the more I think about it, the more I like it and the message it was trying to convey. I think it was meant to be anti-climactic on purpose. Sadly, the game doesn’t have too many really standout memorable/powerful moments, but there’s one scene in the true route directly before the end credits start rolling that I think was perfectly done. Probably my favorite scene in the entire VN, for what it’s worth.
Overall, I enjoyed Chaos;Child but I wouldn’t necessarily consider it a must-read for all VN fans. It’s a solid VN with nice production values and a really likable main cast but it also stumbles in areas I didn’t expect it to stumble. So yeah, I dunno. It was fun, but I’d still file it under the “enjoyed my time with it but probably wouldn’t want to re-read” category, if that makes sense.