5pb’s Science Adventure series do a good job of setting people on edge. When going through Steins;Gate or Steins;Gate 0, people will gradually begin to see and experience things that are quite out of the ordinary. You wade into the waters, before being submerged in deep concepts and ideas. Chaos;Child is no different. It can feel more thrilling and dark, sometimes even scarier, than other games in the series. Yet, it still gives us an opportunity to adjust before really laying things on thick.
This may be a silly thing to say. Especially considering the graphic nature of Chaos;Child’s first murder. The incident described is a horrifying one. Yet, it doesn’t give us our initial exposure to supernatural abilities. That comes with Takuru, our hero. He has delusions in his day to day life, and these shape the course of our adventure. Deciding how to react to them impacts our relationships with people and how events will proceed.
The first time one of Takuru’s delusions occurred, I didn’t expect it. I went into Chaos;Child as a blank slate. I feel like that is necessary to enjoy games like Steins;Gate or even the more recent indie release, Doki Doki Literature Club. Takuru is in his trailer, his friend Serika pops in, and as they are talking, the delusion prompt appeared. I wasn’t even sure which buttons to press to pursue a certain stance. All I know is I pressed left for a positive situation the moment the possibilities appeared on the screen; the next thing I knew, the trigger had clicked and it was like I was in a typical, romantic visual novel. Takuru and Serika were on the verge of confessing feelings for one another, until she brought him and me back to reality.
This harkens back to Chaos;Head, the prequel that hasn’t been released outside of Japan. Certain people in the world are gigalomaniacs. They can “real-boot” delusions into reality. This means they essentially have special powers and abilities, with one of them being Di-Swords they can materialize and wield like weapons. Like the previous game’s hero, Takumi, Takuru’s ability to see delusions can alter the storyline. By choosing to see positive or negative delusions associated with certain situations or characters, you end up on varying routes for characters and see different storylines. Many of the people he ends up encountering while investigating the series of murders taking place in Shibuya have different abilities due to their gigalomaniac nature.
By easing us in with Takuru’s delusions, Chaos;Child makes it easier for us to conceive of the different skills other people might have. We can believe that someone might be a human lie detector, because of the things we have seen and impact Takuru has made on the plot. I could accept certain plot twists and concepts, because of what I had been able to see by pursuing different paths as I had played.
It also helps enhance the intrigue surrounding the cases Takuru and his friends are investigating. We are in a world where the impossible is possible. We get to see such extraordinary things happen. We can even tip the scales, via his delusions, to enjoy unconventional events. By gradually introducing such concepts, they feel more realistic. The delusions even seem less surprising, becoming things we anticipate, almost sense could be coming, and use to our advantage.
Chaos;Child handles its subject matter well. After all, teenagers with unusual powers isn’t an uncommon prospect in media. We often see people capable of extraordinary things. Here, the idea is introduced as something ordinary and subtle, before we get into extremes. The delusion system gives us a chance to see and touch on something awry before being fully exposed to people who have more extreme versions of such abilities. It also makes us think more critically about what could be happening when it comes to the murders and other events in the game.
Chaos;Child is available for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in Europe. It will come to North America on October 24, 2017.