Just as I promised, here’s my review of Chaos;Head.
Main menu screen
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting too much from this game. I know this one is a collaboration project between Nitro+ and 5pb and my expectation was something like Ever17 mixed with Mai-HiME (judging from the preview pics). But what I got is somewhat a strange combination of Matrix, Ever17, Se7en, and a little bit of F/SN.
I start with the short synopsis of the story. You play as Nishijou Takumi, which is the kind of guy you probably want to punch so hard. His basically a hikikomori, an otaku, a dreamer, a pervert, and every negative aspect of nerd you can probably combine. He also has a very dark view about the world and loves to trash talk everybody he met. His only desire is the anime character Orgel Sera. His life seems to be pretty normal (for a hikikomori) until he was contacted by a strange man ‘shogun’ who gave him pictures of gruesome murders. One day, he met a strange girl covered in blood in murder location during his way back home. At that time, he wasn’t sure if his encounter is just illusion or reality but he later realized that he witnessed one of the victims of the famous NewGene case. NewGene case is a strange serial murder case where someone posted the way the victims died on an internet BBS. Takumi later found himself trapped in the strangest conspiracy surrounding the NewGene case. As his mind getting more and more unstable, new girls stepped into his life. They somehow have their own dark past surrounding the NewGene case and a strange project called Noah II. The girls also have strange ability where they can summon massive weapons called the Di-Sword. The poor Takumi must now find himself way out of the confusing conspiracy as well as answering the final question… his own identity.
Chaos;Head, like most Nitro+ games, features many characters with their own twisted background. Unfortunately, there are only three endings in this game, the B route (worst ending), the A route (bad ending), and AA (the good ending). As you can see, it’s easier to screw Takumi’s life rather than fixing it :p. The gameplay is also a bit different from your average visual novel. Here you don’t find life-changing choices so often. Instead, you must decide whether you should see Takumi’s positive imagination, usually involving something ecchi (no hentai though) or humorous, or Takumi’s negative imagination, usually something gory and involves people getting cut apart. But you can also decide not to see any of his sick imagination. Sometimes you are faced with a set of YES/NO questions. But you only face them three times in the game (twice if you’re aiming for B route). What’s strange about this game is how the requirements to achieve A and AA endings are much easier than B ending. There are several flags you must trigger to achieve the worst ending, which is something really rare in visual novel case.
From left to right: Ayase, Sena, Nanami, Rimi, Kozue, and Yua
Now about the characters! I don’t need to tell you how I hate the main character so let’s just talk about the other characters. Sakihata Rimi is the supposed-to-be main heroine of the game. She’s the girl Takumi encountered at the NewGene crime scene. She has bright personality and seems to know much more than what she shows Takumi. Her Di-Sword is a pair of blade that looks like wings. Sena Aoi is the tsundere of the game. She’s a beautiful girl with unfriendly expression that scares Takumi shitless (and she’s my favorite girl in the game). She can be found walking around Akihabara investigating something. Her Di-Sword is a two-pronged sword that can radiate a red light. Yua Kusunoki is a stalker who is friendly towards Takumi. She’s also investigating the NewGene case and is often seen talking to Ban. Her Di-Sword looks like a hybrid of bow and lance (which does NOTHING!). Kozue Orihara is the DFC of the game. She rarely talks and she communicates with telepathy. She somehow knows Takumi and Sena very well. Her Di-Sword is probably the largest in the game, which looks like a massive bastard sword. Ayase Kishimoto (my second favorite) AKA FES, a lead singer of an indie band, Phantasm. Her song somehow describes the NewGene murder which makes Ban and Suwa suspected her. Her Di-Sword looks like a dark rapier. The last girl is Nishijou Nanami. She’s Takumi’s little sister and can’t get along with her brother very well. Deep inside she’s worried of her brother’s well-being. There are several important characters as well. Ban and Suwa are two police officers investigating the NewGene case. Ban is the veteran while Suwa is the noob. Grim is Takumi’s friend from the internet who provides him with info regarding the NewGene case. Shogun is mysterious man who gave Takumi strange gruesome pictures which turned his life upside-down. Katsuko is Ban’s friend who provided him with lots of information. Orgel Sera is Takumi’s idol. Your typical mahou shoujo girl and somehow based on Dokuro-chan. You will see her quite often every time Takumi’s head began to mess up.
Our beloved protagonist in one of his pathetic fantasies
Chaos;Head has beautiful graphic and can be considered top-notch among visual novels (as expected from Nitro+). What amuses me is how the characters’ mouth moves every time they speak. Surely brings a little sense of realism to this kind of game. But what irks me is the background. The crowds in the background are drawn with cheap-looking 3D CGs. I can get used to it later but it’s a bit strange-looking for me in the beginning. This game is also fully-voiced to the point where you can hear crowds cheering or screaming. The music is nice but to be honest it’s nowhere as good as, let’s say, Gekkou no Carnevale. Like most Nitro+ games, the OP and ED are sung by Itou Kanako. The insert song is sung by Yui Sakakibara who provides the voice of Ayase.
Despite my long list of praises I gave for this game, there are also lots of things that make me RAGE’D. First and foremost is Takumi’s voice. This is the first time I’ve ever played a visual novel where the main character moans more often then the girls. I hate his voice very time he talks to other, every time he began his bizarre laughs, every time he got depressed and suicidal, or just every time he opens his mouth. The only time I can bear his voice is in the last part of the game after he found his resolution. The next complaint is how Di-Swords are rarely used in this game despite how they’re often shown in the trailer. It’s a pity since they look so cool. But this matter is not as annoying as Takumi’s voice. Next is the fact that this game doesn’t focus on the girls too much. If most VNs put the girls at the main spotlight then in Chaos;Head we have our dearly beloved Takumi. Yes, this game covers too much about Takumi for its own good. And the last complain is the ending. To be honest I’m not quite satisfied by the ending. It barely explains what happened to the characters. Not to mention that B route, which took an effort to achieve, is actually the worst ending compared to the others.
Things can get WAY worse than this
Overall, Chaos;Head is a pretty fun game. I would put it in my top 10 if it’s not because of annoying protagonist. Still, Chaos;Head offers you engaging storyline, good graphics, nice music, Takumi, and fun experience. This game also deals with delusions and stuffs like sea of Dirac, perception, and a bit of philosophy. So this might get a bit confusing. But here’s a warning, although this game is H-free that doesn’t mean you can play it in front of a minor. Lots and lost of guro scenes are waiting for you in Chaos;Head.
And here’s a picture of Sena, just because I like it