Chaos;Head Noah Review - Screenshot 1 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

There are two ways that life goes for visual novel protagonists. Either they wake up in a world where all their classmates are beautiful anime girls who want to jump their bones, or they find themselves in a twisted supernatural murder mystery. Unfortunately for Takumi Nishijou, the protagonist of Chaos;Head Noah, he’s stuck in the latter. What plays out is a very good, if narratively inconsistent, story that is gripping and disturbing in equal measures.

Despite being the first game in the Science Adventure series which includes the excellent Steins;Gate, this is the first time that Chaos;Head Noah has had an official English release. Spike Chunsoft has done the localisation work to bring this game and its indirect sequel Chaos;Child to the rest of the world. Chaos;Head Noah is a remaster of the original, which includes HD upgraded visuals that look sharp and crisp either in docked or handheld mode. They fare slightly better in handheld, with the Switch proving once again to be the perfect console for visual novels. Both games are available individually on eShop or bundled together in one text-heavy physical Double Pack.

Chaos;Head Noah Review - Screenshot 2 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

There has been some controversy around Chaos;Head Noah — the PC version was initially banned on Steam before being suddenly reinstated hours before it went live on the platform. This is unusual because this isn’t a “sexy” visual novel; it contains graphic violence and intense horror themes, but nothing worse than you’d find in many horror games or even in other visual novels like Doki Doki Literature Club. All the girls keep their clothes on, even if they do sometimes find themselves in unusual poses and situations thanks to Takumi’s delusional mind.

Speaking of which, Takumi (the main character) is the stereotyped otaku we’ve all seen before in JRPGs and visual novels. He lives out his days in a storage container he’s converted into his Base, playing online games until the wee hours of the morning, and going to school as little as he can. He has little interest in real-life relationships, instead preferring the company of his multiple figurines and the 2D women of his hentai games. He is moody, sullen, and unbearable to be around, but he is surprisingly well-written.

Deep down, Takumi is just a kid with PTSD who has been left to his own devices, creating a delusional state where he often can’t tell fantasy from reality. That forms the core of Chaos;Head Noah's gameplay — you can choose whether Takumi will experience a positive delusion, which will usually involve some comical or lightly-erotic outcome, or a negative delusion, which will lead to a violent or painful scene. Alternatively, you can let Takumi stay grounded in reality and deal with the world as it is, meaning he won't have a delusional episode at all.

Chaos;Head Noah Review - Screenshot 3 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Most of the time it doesn’t matter which you choose, but how many times you trigger these delusions and which ones you pick at key moments in the game can determine which of the multiple endings you see. Thankfully this release has made it much easier to see when delusions are available than the original game, though it does rely on digging into the menu to see how to control their outcome. Considering this is the main way to access the branching narrative of Chaos;Head Noah, it would have been better to have this explained slightly better.

The story follows the “New Gen” murders, a string of bizarre and gruesome killings in the Shibuya district of Tokyo where Takumi lives. Through his online game, he is sent pictures of the third of these killings the day before it happens, triggering events where he gets dragged, kicking and screaming and complaining the whole time, into a world of supernatural murder and chaos.

Like many games in the Science Adventure series, you’ll need to play through multiple times to get all the endings and fully unravel the mystery. Subsequent playthroughs let you skip through scenes you’ve already seen, speeding up what could have been an unbearably lengthy process. Getting all the endings will take you around 30 hours, depending on how long it takes you to read, but it will become increasingly difficult to put the story down once it builds up momentum.

Chaos;Head Noah Review - Screenshot 4 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

As much as we enjoy Chaos;Head Noah's story, it isn’t nearly as strong as later entries in the series. It never really makes sense and takes some drastic leaps in logic at times, though it is always entertaining and engaging. You can clearly see the formula that would make Steins;Gate and Robotics;Notes so good, though it hasn’t quite been perfected here. Takumi is an unwilling — and unlikable — participant for most of the plot, serving more as a springboard for other, better characters to play their part than as a protagonist in his own right.

Still, for visual novel fans — and especially those invested in the Science Adventure series — this is pretty much a must-play, offering a taste of where the series came from. The straightforward gameplay, centred around the Delusion Trigger system, makes it highly accessible to new fans of the genre as well. The soundtrack is another highlight, both in the form of the ambient music and the occasional rock tracks that filter in at points throughout the story. Despite its age, every part of Chaos;Head Noah holds up well. It just isn't as good as other, later entries in the series.

Chaos;Head Noah Review - Screenshot 5 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Spike Chunsoft has done some impressive work to localise this game for English speakers. There are mountains of text here, not just in the dialogue at the bottom of the screen but also in the TIPS feature which explains some key slang that might be missed by modern players. Chaos;Head was first released in 2008 and dives heavily into otaku culture in Japan at the time, so the localisers did a great job of keeping the overall feel of the language similar while making it make sense in English. The only visual hiccup we encountered was when text from the art would appear directly behind the dialogue, making both hard to read — possibly an unavoidable issue when there is this much information to get across in multiple languages.

This is a great remaster of an already solid visual novel. Chaos;Head Noah is a game that will stick with you long after you put it down. It is weird and wonderful and haunting in equal measure, switching themes and tones so fast it will give you whiplash but you’ll want to keep playing to see what happens next.


Chaos;Head Noah isn’t the best game in the Science Adventure series, but it is a great point for players to jump in if they’re new to the genre. Visual novel veterans will find plenty to enjoy here as well, with a story that goes to some dark and unsettling places. The plot makes no attempt at making sense and there are times when we wanted to strangle Takumi for being such a weirdo, but it remains engaging and fun throughout. This is an easy one to recommend, either on its own or as part of the bundle with its sequel.