Chaos;Head Noah / Chaos;Child Double Pack Review

Chaos Head Noah Header

While many people like to harp on about how Disney and Marvels’ defined the concept of a shared Cinematic Universe, visual novel fans know who really came up with the idea – it was a little company called MAGES. Plenty of gamers and anime fans will be familiar with their biggest breakout hit Steins;Gate, but that visual novel is part of a larger collection of games called the Science Adventure series that started back with the iconic visual novel Chaos;Head. This new double-pack release marks the first time that Chaos;Head has had an official English localisation, and while Chaos;Child has been released in English before, this updated version adds some fixes and re-translations that make both games equally worth diving into.

For the most part, the Science Adventure series is tied together by the general idea of stories involving technology, mystery, and murder. Some easter eggs and character cameos tie the games together in a shared universe, but for the most part, you shouldn’t expect an eye-opening prologue to the events of Steins;Gate when you boot up this Chaos series double pack. Do expect a dense, twist-filled and extremely mature murder-filled sci-fi adventure along the same lines, though.

In Chaos;Head Noah – the Noah is for added content from the Xbox 360 release – you play as annoying tech-nerd Takumi. He’s socially inept and would like to stay that way, were he not ripped away from the comfort of his bedroom and video games to help get to the bottom of the mysterious New Generation Madness murders. He’s unlikable and infuriating, but that’s kind of the point – Takumi gets plenty of character development over the lengthy 60-80 hour runtime of Chaos;Head and by the end of the journey, it’s easy to appreciate how fresh a visual novel protagonist he is.

What’s harder to appreciate, though, is the pacing of the story. The mysteries of the game come to a head in exciting ways by the time you reach the finale, but the amount of time you spend in the middle hours of the game meandering around in confusion can be a bit frustrating.

Chaos Head Noah Delusion

While most visual novels have you alter the events of the game and travel down different ending routes via dialogue choices, both Chaos games utilise a more indirect system to influence the path of your story – the Delusion Trigger System. At certain points in the story of Chaos;Head Noah, Takumi will take a step back and let his imagination create delusions of what might happen next. As the player, you choose if these are positive or negative delusions. Positive delusions tend to be lewd and light-hearted, while negative delusions dive into incredibly horrific and grotesque circumstances. It’s an interesting system that shakes up the pacing of your standard visual novel adventures, but the vague results of your delusion choices mean you’ll likely need to have a guide on hand if you’re hoping to get specific endings.

Chaos;Child feels like a natural extension and expansion of everything from the first game. You can play both independently of each other, but going through them in release order will likely help you appreciate the advancements in presentation and atmosphere that Chaos;Child makes.

Taking place a few years after the events of Chaos;Head, Chaos;Child throws you into the shoes of a new protagonist by the name of Takuru Miyashiro. He’s also socially awkward, but in more of a calm and collected manner, and as the game progresses he ends up being a much more sympathetic and relatable protagonist.

You’ll still use the Delusion Trigger System to advance the story, but the balance between lewd antics and overly gory depictions of violence is somewhat toned down in this entry in the series. Notably, while Chaos;Head Noah had a large amount of gory text and some event CGs removed from most versions of the game (including this re-release), Chaos;Child has had it’s content untouched in all versions. It’s still a really raw and wild story, though, so don’t expect a happy-go-lucky atmosphere from this one.

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Visual novel purists tend to be justifiably observant when it comes to the quality of Science Adventure series localisations. There’s a lot of dense dialogue and complicated lore in these games that doesn’t always translate well from the original Japanese. I felt like both of these entries were solid reads – a handful of unlocalised terms and names had me scratching my head a bit, but the flow of dialogue is solid throughout the whole experience.

One pleasant surprise was that, for the first time, the interactive map you use in Chaos;Child has been fully translated into English. This is a map full of street names that you not only use to progress the story, but need to study in order to connect the dots that lead you to some specific endings in the game. The fact that it went untranslated in prior releases was a wild oversight, so I’m happy to see that corrected here.

Overall, this is a solid double-pack of impactful and unforgettable visual novels that genre die-hards definitely owe it to themselves to pick up. The presentation and style of Chaos;Head Noah can feel a bit dated at times, but Chaos;Child is bigger and better in every way, making for one of the most jaw-dropping and gut-wrenching visual novel adventures I’ve ever been on.

The Chaos; series has remained one of the most iconic visual novel series for years, and with good reason - despite some dated visuals and slow pacing, both titles offer jaw-dropping stories full of winding twists and incredibly well developed characters. The pacing hiccups, length and obtuse ending requirements won't be for everyone, but if you're trying to explore the history of visual novels and want to play the biggest ones, you owe it to yourself to add this double pack to the list.
  • Gripping, gory stories that had me on the edge of my seat
  • Delusion Triggers are refreshing way to handle choices and routes
  • Chaos;Head Noah has some pacing issues
  • Some of the ending requirements can be pretty obtuse
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I'm a writer, voice actor, and 3D artist living la vida loca in New York City. I'm into a pretty wide variety of games, and shows, and films, and music, and comics and anime. Anime and video games are my biggest vice, though, so feel free to talk to me about those. Bury me with my money.