Sunday, June 23, 2019
I wasn't able to secure a review code for Chaos;Child when it was released in the west, since it was from a notably stingy company. So once I finally tried out Gamefly's rental service, it went to the top of my list. It's a visual novel with a scientific twist, and I was eager to play it.
The beginning of the game put a dent in that hope. It was setting the scene, but I understood what was going on long before they made it apparent. The scene dragged on, and lead into another that threatened to be just as bad. Thankfully it wasn't. It was a good analogy for what the rest of the game would be: some interesting ideas, but far too drawn out.
Don't get me wrong, there is good stuff here. The characters are pretty good and fleshed out, and some scenes and twists in the story are very interesting. The kind of interesting that's "stay up way too late to finish this scene." Unfortunately, the rest of it is a let down. Many scenes drag on far too long, or take too long to get to the point the player was at 10 minutes ago. It will even build up to a point, then dilly-dally at the precipice rather than get to that point. The final boss "fight" in the first ending takes over an hour of reading! It's annoying and silly.
I won't go into spoilers, in case you do want to play the game, but some of the twists just felt random, or didn't make sense in the grand scheme of things. Like Indigo Prophecy, it starts of with a strong crime premise, but loses itself when it turns to magical powers. It's apparently set in the same universe as Steins;Gate (the semicolon universe), but I only knew that from reading outside material after completing the game.
There are a few different routes through the game, but you must complete the "common" route first. It's not a bad idea, since a lot of the other plot points stem from those events. There's even a true ending, which maybe-kinda-sorta ties the rest together and tries to explain stuff. The game is not a fan of happy endings, either. The biggest problem with the routes is how and when they are activated.
At various points in the story, Takuru's healthy imagination will flare up and he will experience a delusion. It can be positive or negative, or even skipped if you want. These are what will affect your route, but they are not obvious how or why. The worst part is how far out your route is determined. In good visual novels, the choices are fairly obvious, and once you start a route, you actually start the route.
Not so in Chaos;Child. You get put onto a route, and much later will see the effects. At least one route is determined 4(!) chapters before you actually get different content. So, you have to either read or skip all that extra stuff just to see the new. That's ridiculous. Plus, there is no good function to jump around the story, so you have to either sit through the time it takes to skip through the bloat, or know when to have a separate save file. This just makes an already too-long game even longer.
One last gripe I have with the game is the touch screen sensitivity. Thankfully, you can tap the screen to advance the text (as all visual novels should do), but it's pretty flawed. You are supposed to be able to "swipe" to set auto advance for the text, but it reads pretty much every time I touch the screen as a swipe. 95% of my taps are swipes, and set it to auto. It's annoying and entirely preventable, since this is the only game I've had that problem in.
Overall, Chaos;Child is a visual novel you can easily skip. You would get your money's worth, as the game is too long, but is too much of a mixed bag for me to recommend. Let an editor have a run through the script, trimming it down, reducing some of the random twists, and it would be great. Since that's not going to happen, it's just mediocre.
The characters are fairly well fleshed out.
Story is too bloated. Routes are way to subtle and far out. Too many random twists.
It starts off on a good note, like Indigo Prophecy, but unfortunately also ends up like Indigo Prophecy.
(Chaos;Child was rented from Gamefly's service.)