Chaos;Head is the first solo work of Hayashi Naotaka (林直孝) who was a co-author of many KID’s sci-fi VNs in the past, and who would write the prestigious Steins;Gate in the future.
The narrative follows a shut-in otaku whose world starts crumbling apart as he finds himself linked to a vicious serial murder streak, meanwhile weird people, who he has no recollection of, start inexplicably popping up into his life. It’s a surreal tale of mysteries and delusions that forces you to constantly question the reliability of your narrator as well as the nature, or rather fickleness, of reality itself.
Among the many psychological and philosophical insights, Chaos;Head also utilizes relatively legit science-fiction, mostly of the speculative kind, to pave a fairly thought-provoking narrative whose mindfuck not only functions to confuse, but also to educate you. Repercussions of reality being just a construct of one’s mind being one of the running themes of the work, I, personally, couldn’t get the Descartes “cogito ergo sum” out of my head throughout the whole experience, even more so than when I watched Ergo Proxy.
A few might be disappointed by the fact that the visual novel is mostly linear and pays little care to romance, or individual heroine routes for that matter, but this approach also saves the work from delving into needless distractions that are the bane of most works in this medium. In fact, Naotaka does a great job at pacing his work, always providing just enough hints to entice you into the narrative, but never enough to spoil its secrets. Every minute spent on Chaos;Head is thoroughly fulfilling and exciting, and while some might have minor qualms regarding the protagonist’s geekish wimpiness or the personality of one or the other heroines, I just don’t see how one could possibly dislike this VN for its plot (given you can stomach murder mysteries and gore).
The characters are not given as much attention as the plot, but all of the heroines, as well as the protagonist, as long as you are not outright turned-off by otaku characters, are very interesting and relatively profound in their own right. The girls might not be a result of profound character study akin to Sharin no Kuni, and they might not have the presence of heroes in F/SN, but they still spurt varied, intriguing personalities, and their problems are interesting enough to leave one unsated when they end up not explored in depth. For Chaos;Head concentrates almost solely on its protagonist and his failing attempts to deal with the hardships of the real world, all only flavored by the tension (both literal and sexual) provided by the girls. Which, at least, makes the work concise, I guess.
All in all, Chaos;Head is an exciting rollercoaster ride from start to finish, and while some might be disappointed by the lack of care given to a few of the heroines, I don’t see anyone being let down by the plot which not only succeeds at seamlessly blending mysteries of inexplicable phenomena and science fiction, but also paces itself perfectly to deliver one hell of a punch. The ending, as always in a mystery narrative, might not be as exciting as the mystery itself, but if you’re into darker, intelligent mindfuck fiction, you’ll be right at home with Chaos;Head. Highly recommended.
|Beautiful character designs||Some of the heroines are not explored enough|
|Fantastic OP||The ending might be a bit underwhelming compared to the ride itself|
Dark, mysterious atmosphere
|Interesting, likable characters|
|Engrossing, well-paced plot makes the vn impossible to put down|
|A solid story which seamlessly combines murder mystery and science fiction|
|Actually thought-provoking choices (find the sword hidden in the background)|
|Thought-provoking on one’s perception of reality|
|Thought-provoking on the nature of reality and solipsism|