Chaos;Child is produced and developed by Nitroplus and 5pb. Games and part of the Science Adventure series, famous for the works Steins;Gate, Robotic;Notes, and Chaos;Head, the prequel to Chaos;Child. Similar to its predecessor, Chaos;Child wants to dive into unique concepts by mixing its genres (mystery, thriller, sci-fi with elements of horror). Some of the emerging ideas are the side-effects of being entrenched in too much media, the destabilizing of the safety in technology, authority and information, the meshing of science and the occult, and the distortion of one’s perception. How these concepts are elaborated in the visual novel create one of the most exciting experiences, especially for fans of mystery, sci-fi, and horror.
Chaos;Child takes 6 years after Chaos;Child. Shibuya has been reborn, quickly rebuilt from the devastation of an earthquake. Now the city is experiencing its peaceful tranquility, revived and renewed. However, beneath the surface of its new infrastructure, security, and safety rests a plot to unearth the murders of 6 years ago. Reborn alongside Shibuya, the New Generation Madness rises once more.
Similar Games to Chaos;Child
- System: Microsoft Windows
- Publisher: Nitroplus
- Developer: Nitroplus
- Release Dates: Jun. 16th, 2012 (JP)
Those interested in the occult elements of Chaos;Child will find Phenomeno to be an amazing example of how to write occult horror. Phenomeno was originally a light novel written by Hajime Ninomae and illustrated by Yoshitoshi ABe. To help promote the light novel series, Nitroplus adapted a small part of the series into a short, free visual novel, and by doing so helped exemplify one of the strongest aspects of the original story: atmospheric horror.
Yoshitoshi ABe’s style focuses on sketchy line art--to specify, instead of a strong, bolded line to help define the outline of his characters, he prefers to keep multiple strokes to convey an idea of a thick line. This lack of a “defined line” is visually relevant to his past previous works where the line between reality and fiction becomes increasingly blurred. Combining ABe’s artistic talents and highlighting the strengths of Phenomeno was an ingenious decision, and it helps illustrate a key point within Phenomeno, that the line exists between reality and the occult, but if willingly stepping across it, the occult wanders into reality.
The protagonist of the story is Yamada Nagito, a college student who is looking for an affordable place to live. In his search for that, he stumbles upon a mysterious house with an extremely low rent cost--the “House that Grants Wishes.” Finding that it fits his budget, Yamada lives in the house only to find that each night he starts to hear a disturbing scratching. Unable to bear the noise, he investigates to find that a mysterious “7” has been carved into his wall. An ominous premonition consumes Yamada’s thoughts, and he rushes to find what this number can mean. His interest in the occult leads him to a website. The answer he learns pushes him one step closer towards an unseen world.
- System: PC/Steam, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3
- Publisher: 5pb. Games, Nitroplus
- Developer: I-VNTP, 5pb. Games, JAST USA, PQube Ltd., MAGES.
- Release Dates: PS3: Sept. 18th, 2015, PC/Steam: Sept. 8th, 2015
Steins;Gate stands as one of the most beloved works from the Science Adventure series. If your initial interests in Chaos;Child stemmed from the concepts of technological dangers, isolation from others, or unique protagonist perspectives, Steins;Gate highlights all of that while including ideas of its own. Time travel and its explanations, the artistic visuals by Huke (the creator of Black Rock Shooter), and the heavy emphasis on the weight of your choices are part of the equation that makes Steins;Gate beautiful.
The story of Steins;Gate begins in Akihabara, a mecca for anime culture, games, and electronics. Okabe Rintarou, the protagonist of the story, is an eccentric student of the Sciences, his alter ego as a mad scientist coming out whenever he interacts with his friends. His motley group of friends are members of an average, upstairs apartment room affectionately called the “lab.” Here they create many gadgets, but none have come as close to this recent invention. The entire title, hilarious dubbed the “Future Gadget #8 'Phone Microwave' (name subject to change),” is the first step into time travel, but also the first step that spirals everything into a bleak future. On the horizon, sparked by the invention of the first time machine, is a race to control the future.
3. Ever 17 -The Out of Infinity-
- System: PC/Steam
- Publisher: Hirameki International
- Developer: KID
- Release Dates: Dec. 15th, 2005 (NA)
During the periods of early Western VN localization, visual novels were in a strange experimental period. The audience was more niche than today and how to market visual novels was still up in the air. Stores that sold VNs were far and few between and when they did, it might be placed in weird sections of the store: Anime DVD section, Novel section, or PC Gaming section to name a few. To make it even more confusing, some early localized VNs came in the form of DVDs, creating a whole slew of problems when playing them--a personal “favorite” was the chapters being locked behind passwords keys.
Then came Ever 17, easily one of the influential PC titles in early Western VN localization. The budding English VN community would be introduced to one of their first traditional VNs (less gameplay-focused and more reading), a noteworthy and intriguing sci-fi thriller that pits you claustrophobically close to its characters. Given how interwoven its themes are to its mystery and intrigue, it’s difficult to explain this recommendation without spoiling, however, if you enjoyed Chaos;Child for its thriller aspects, its life-and-death scenarios, or you’re looking into an exemplary work on how to write perspective, Ever 17 stands to show you an early, nostalgic look into visual novel history.
Regretfully, reading Ever 17 will be difficult since the developer is no longer with us. However, if you are fortunate enough to come across a copy of Ever 17, you have the rare opportunity to read a VN that introduced much of the English community into the medium.
Ever 17 takes place during the year 2017 on an artificial island called Insel Null. An underwater theme park called LeMU has grouped all of the story’s characters together. Now, 51 meters below the surface, the worst case scenario has emerged. A suspicious incident has sprung a devastating leak, closing off all exits to the surface. Now with 119 hours left until the end, the characters must struggle to find an escape...if it even exists.
Any Game Like Chaos;Child?
4. Root Double -Before Crime * After Days-
- System: PC/Steam
- Publisher: Lemnisca LLC, Sekai Project
- Developer: Regista
- Release Dates: Apr. 4th, 2016 (NA)
If you’re looking for another sci-fi, mystery, thriller, then Root Double is a unique recommendation. Takumi Nakazawa, the same director as Ever 17, has created an experimental visual novel that exercises a unique mechanic for its choices. The Senses Sympathy System is an enneagram (a nine-pointed star that’s used in personality tests) that allows for players to focus their “senses” on their decisions. Players are allowed to focus their decisions by pointing towards one or multiple different sections of the enneagram, each point representing one of the 9 characters in the game. By doing this, players are allowed to choose characters they feel are correct and learn to rely on themselves or defer that authority to other characters.
If you were interested in Chaos;Child because of the meshing of the occult and science, mystery, or perspective changes, then Root Double fits well. Adding to those elements, Root Double also focuses on concepts like redemption, how psychology connects to personality, and the definition of humanity. Root Double heavily experiments with a lot of ideas, and it’s important to emphasize because those aware of writing concepts will appreciate the risks it takes in balancing plot and character development--especially within the thriller genre. Regardless of what interests you about Root Double, it stands as an interesting piece that hopes to expand out of genre conventions.
Root Double takes place in within Rokumei city, a Japanese city highly influenced by the advances in technology. On the outskirts of town, exists LABO, a nuclear facility that powers much of the city and its events. After an incident occurs within LABO, Watase Kasaragi, a rescue worker and one of the main protagonists, is sent to control the situation. However, the crisis escalates and standard nuclear procedure locks all of the inhabitants within. Facing extreme odds, the inhabitant must escape while weighing the cost of their lives against others.
Root Double- Before Crime * After Days- Trailer:
5. Song of Saya - Saya no Uta
- System: Microsoft Windows
- Publisher: JAST USA, WinKiller Studio, TLWiki
- Developer: Nitroplus
- Release Dates: May 6th, 2013 (NA)
Okay, before we get anywhere with this, I want to give a big glaring WARNING that this visual novel is for adults (18+) and deals with not just disturbing events but graphic violence (gore) and disturbing sexual imagery. With that stated, if what interested in Chaos;Child was the unsettling atmosphere, the concepts of moral perception, and isolation due to experiences, then Saya no Uta is an apt recommendation.
Saya no Uta is a horror visual novel with Lovecraftian influences. Common Lovecraftian themes like human helplessness, the insignificance of humankind, and the fragile nature of sanity come into play. If you’ve ever wanted to experience what it’s like to be caged in an H.P. Lovecraft horror, then look no further: nothing is held back with Saya no Uta. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give to Gen Urobuchi is that he’s created a visceral story that, while sickening and stomach-churning, is methodically crafted to give you these sensations. Saya is an excellent homage to Lovecraftian horror, and while this is a hard recommendation, it’s one I think is worth reading.
Saya no Uta’s protagonist is a university student, Fuminori Sakisaka. An unfortunate car accident leaves his parents dead and him in the hospital. When a brain surgery is conducted to save his life, his perception is changed forever. His surroundings become encased in blood and guts, people look like monstrous slabs of meat, and even food tastes sickening. Fuminori, contemplating suicide, is later visited by a girl whose form appears to be human. As she is now the only person that looks human to him, he asks her to live with him...
Song of Saya - Saya no Uta Trailer:
6. Umineko When They Cry - Umineko no Naku Koro Ni
- System: PC/Steam, Microsoft Windows
- Publisher: 07th Expansion, Alchemist
- Developer: Umineko Project, MangaGamer, Witch Hunt, Tweaking Umineko Wiki
- Release Dates: Jul 8th, 2016 (NA)
Ryukishi, the same writer of the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, is the force behind Umineko. While similar in some regards, Umineko frames its questions differently, tackling some interesting themes within the mystery, thriller, and horror genres.
If you enjoyed unraveling the occult aspects of Chaos;Child and solving the mystery behind the murders, Umineko asks you to do the same. While the setup is different, magic, witches, and demons are far more apparent in this VN, Umineko asks the reader to weigh the values of solving its mystery. Taking the strengths of the mystery genre and inserting magic, creates an interesting balance between using conventional logic and adapting one’s theories to the rules of magic. Using conventional logic and rejecting magic entirely creates a dangerous dilemma. If all these gruesome, surreal murders are done by human hands, then the culprits are the ones on the island--friends and family. How much is real and how much is fake?
Umineko takes place in 1986 on a secluded island of Rokkenjima. A meeting is called to bring the wealthy Ushiromiya family together and discuss a tense conversation about inheritance. Kinzo Ushiromiya, the head of the family, is nearing death, and the division of his assets bring forth a conflict that escalates until a sudden incident. A mysterious murder has now occurred on the secluded island. Its brutal depiction is conveyed by an ominous symbol, one whispered to be connected to a witch.
Umineko When they Cry Trailer:
There are a lot of elements in Chaos;Child that can be appreciated. Whether one enjoys the mystery, thriller, sci-fi or some aspects it borrows from horror, VN readers will be overjoyed to see yet another grand addition to the beloved science adventure series. A lot in this list are visual novels that stand on their own, but hopefully with your interest in Chaos;Child you’ll be able to better appreciate the significance of the themes and explore new stories that intrigue you. If you’ve read any of these works before and wish to share your enthusiasm, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments at the bottom!