.Chaos;Head Noah is an enhanced release of 2008’s Chaos;Head. Because of that, you could say that it’s a product of its time both in storytelling as well as art style. Developed by Nitroplus and under the Science Adventures franchise alongside staples in the visual novel realm like Steins;Gate, Chaos;Head Noah weaves a strange and brutal tale that helps leaves you uncomfortable and wanting more.
Prior to getting deep into the review, this is a general warning that Chaos;Head Noah is a brutal game. There’s a lot of violence mentioned, along with suicide, sexual assault, torture, and other similar themes. If those types of things bother you in any way, it would probably be best to look elsewhere for a visual novel recommendation.
Chaos;Head Noah follows the protagonist Takumi Nishijou, who is a 17 year old high school student. However, rather than go to school every day, he would much rather spend his time in his room, which is a shipping container on the roof of a building, playing video games. He’s the quintessential anime otaku protagonist — has plenty of figures of his “waifus”, thinks that 3D women are unappealing and disgusting, and plays a lot of hentai games. That, paired with his “charming personality” makes you feel bad for the protagonist for a moment whenever he opens his mouth and brings forth a wave of irritation. He’s not a likable protagonist, and that’s partly the point at the end of the day.
With that though, Chaos;Head Noah takes place during a string of murders known as the NewGen Killings. You find people dead in strange and disturbing ways and everyone is eating up the drama. But along with these strange killings, other strange events and characters start to surround Takumi, and he finds himself drawn right into the center.
The storytelling of Chaos;Head Noah is great, to say the least. The game is straightforward when it comes to giving the player information that pertains to what’s going on. There’s a lot of information to take in and at the beginning, it will feel as though things are trudging slowly along. But once the climax hits, things ramp up quickly. Clues are thrown left and right at you, and you’ll find yourself piecing things together as you dive deeper. Worry not, as there are quite a few surprises that will still catch you off-guard.
There are a total of nine endings that are obtainable in Chaos;Head Noah. During your first play-through, you’re locked into Route A, which is the standard ending. Once you’ve cleared through Route A, you can seek out the other eight endings, which include individual routes for each of the six girls (Rimi, Nanami, Sena, Yua, Kozue, and Ayase), as well as a bad ending and the true ending. In order to get these endings, you’ll need to play through certain delusions and make specific choices. Since these can be a toss up, it’s better to just consult a guide in order to get the rest of the endings.
Most of the questions the player has during a playthrough are answered in Route A, but the other routes will build out the rest of the story and clear up the rest of the loose strings. The additional routes also help to show a bit more of the characters, as many of them don’t get as much dedicated time as others.
Once you’ve played through all eight of the routes, the true ending unlocks. Known as Blue Sky, it builds upon the Route A ending. Playing through all of the routes is worth it when it comes to getting the full story. Although, if you’re just grinding those endings out solely for the true ending, then it may disappoint.
Chaos;Head Noah is primarily a visual novel, which means you will spend most of your time reading through the story and taking in the aesthetics. There are some choices to make in the game, from yes/no responses to having the option of playing through positive and negative delusions, which can affect the routes you end up playing. Outside of that, there’s not much else in the way of gameplay.
Delusions and Choices
During your first play-through, your choices don’t have an effect on the ending; you’re locked into Route A. Once you have played through the game the first time, any choice that you make can potentially send you down a specific route. Using a mixture of the yes/no choices, as well as positive or negative delusions, you can experience the different routes available.
Delusions take the form of the screen narrowing down to a focal point and a static filter appearing on the screen. At this point, you have the choice of allowing Takumi to see a positive, negative, or neutral delusion. The neutral option will just play the typical scene while the positive and negative delusions will show equally strange scenarios play out before Takumi notes that he’s in fact just imagining things before going back to his usual antics. The screen changes colors in correspondence to whether you select a positive (green) or negative (red) delusion. You can change between the two at any point up until the focal point expands and the static filter is removed.
Figuring out which delusions lead down which path feels like guesswork and as already mentioned, it’s better to just consult a guide to clear through the rest of the content of the game. You have to select the right combination of delusions during a chapter in order to continue down a route, and not all chapters will require selecting a delusion.
Thankfully, a skip option is available that makes going through the other endings a breeze. You have the ability to skip through all text, choices, and delusions, no matter whether you’ve read it or not. A different option allows you to skip all text that you’ve read while stopping during delusions, choices, or new text.
Given that Chaos;Head Noah is originally a 2008 game, the art style and UI resembles the art from that time: large anime eyes, simplistic character designs with their signature look to separate them from the other NPCs, and semi-transparent black text boxes. It’s a product of its time, but that’s charming and holds up well considering. Some camera movement is sprinkled throughout the chapters, mainly when Takumi is in his room. Although even with the camera movement, everything is still in 3D since this is, of course, a visual novel.
Ambience and Music
The majority of the time with Chaos;Head Noah, you’ll be listening to ambience. Whether it’s a computer humming, traffic noise, or people murmuring in the background, it’s the kind of noise that tends to filter out of our brains when thinking back on moments in the game. However, that makes the pivotal moments of the game more impactful, such as the moments when the game suddenly goes silent, or when there’s suddenly music playing at a time when Takumi is getting anxious. This also makes the moments when music is playing during the emotional scenes a lot of impactful.
Along with that, the sound effects that you’ll hear during moments of violence are very off-putting, in a good and bad way. It leaves you with a visceral feeling, almost as though you’re paying witness to the crime itself.
Outside of the narration portions of the game, the entirety of Chaos;Head Noah features voice acting. There’s only Japanese voice acting available and the entire cast is amazing. There’s a good mix of voices among the cast that all of the characters, particularly the girls, sound different from one another. Of course, though, that does mean that some of them fall into particular voice tropes, such as a squeaky high-pitched voice or the cool voice. Each of the characters gets their moments to really test their characters range, from happy to having the absolute worst day of their life.
Chaos;Head Noah does fall into the camp of the player needing to know what they’re getting into. Of course, it’s best to go in with as little info as possible, in order for the story to have an impact. At the same time, key parts of the story describe violence in intense detail and the sound effects that accompany only exemplify the disgust factor. That and Takumi’s unpleasant nature can easily be a turn off for many players.
If you’re still curious after hearing all of that, it’s a great visual novel to pick up. The story is gripping and, while slow to start off, it will hook you in. Piecing together what’s going on and who you can trust and who you can’t becomes a game in of itself. It’s a full-package game with its writing, art, and sound effects/minimal music selection that any visual novel fan will want to check out.