Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos
From Dischan Media, creators of the highly acclaimed Juniper's Knot, comes Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos. Dysfunctional Systems is a visual novel series featuring Winter Harrison, a student mediator from a utopian world. Learning to Manage Chaos is the first entry in the series. What is a mediator?
User reviews: Very Positive (659 reviews)
Release Date: Apr 4, 2013

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Recommended By Curators

"A short visual novel and the first of a planned episodic series. Beautiful art and an interesting story <3"

Reviews

“Learning to Manage Chaos is driven by an engaging story and lively dialogue.”
4/5 – Gamezebo

“Extraordinary story, writing, art, characters, and music. What more could you ask for?”
8.5/10 – Game Podunk

About This Game

From Dischan Media, creators of the highly acclaimed Juniper's Knot, comes Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos.

Dysfunctional Systems is a visual novel series featuring Winter Harrison, a student mediator from a utopian world. Learning to Manage Chaos is the first entry in the series.

What is a mediator? A mediator is someone who travels to chaotic worlds, attempting to resolve the issues plaguing them. The first entry in the series follows Winter's second mediation, where she shadows the experienced and aloof mediator: Cyrus Addington.

Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos features two distinct endings, unlockable bonus art, an animated opening video, and a jukebox of in-game music.

What is a visual novel?


A visual novel is a mix of choose your own adventure books, comics and manga, music, and animation. Play through the story and make choices for the main character to change the outcome of the episode and the events of future episodes!

Soundtrack Included


All Steam purchases of Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos include the official soundtrack absolutely free! Enjoy a total of 18 tracks, including a full rendition of the Dysfunctional Systems opening theme, in both MP3 and FLAC. The album is included with the game files. To access, right click the "Dysfunctional Systems" entry in your library, click "properties", then go to the "local files" tab, and click the "browse local files" button.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP
    • Processor: 1.2 GHz Pentium 4
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Integrated Graphics
    • Hard Drive: 500 MB available space
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows 7 or higher
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz Dual-Core
    • Memory: 3 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Dedicated Graphics Card
    • Hard Drive: 500 MB available space
    Minimum:
    • OS: OS X 10.6
    • Processor: Any 64 bit processor
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Integrated Graphics
    • Hard Drive: 500 MB available space
    Recommended:
    • OS: OS X 10.8 or higher
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz+ Dual-Core
    • Memory: 3 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Dedicated Graphics Card
    • Hard Drive: 500 MB available space
    Minimum:
    • Processor: 1.2 GHz Pentium 4
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Integrated Graphics
    • Hard Drive: 500 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: "ia32-libs" package required for 64-bit Linux users
    Recommended:
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz Dual-Core
    • Memory: 3 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Dedicated Graphics Card
    • Hard Drive: 500 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: "ia32-libs" package required for 64-bit Linux users
Helpful customer reviews
174 of 226 people (77%) found this review helpful
7 people found this review funny
2.8 hrs on record
Posted: August 18, 2014
EXTREMELY SHORT
NOT ENOUGH CHOICES
ME3-ISH ENDING
PRETTY MUCH A TEASER FOR PART 2 AND 3

BUT
DAT ART
DAT MUSIC
DAT STORY
DAT ATMOSPHERE
OH GOD WHY ISN'T THERE MORE.
PLS I NEED IT.
SEQUELS NOW.
THIS IS WHY I HATE PLAYING EPISODIC GAMES.


BUY WHEN CHEAP.
VERY GOOD, BUT FIVE BUCKS STILL KINDA PRICY.
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38 of 49 people (78%) found this review helpful
3.7 hrs on record
Posted: September 14, 2014
tl;dr: 6/10 - Pretty good but really short.

Full review (spoilers are real spoilers):

As a rather critical visual novel fan, I can't say I'm easily pleased. A visual novel being sold on Steam does raise some eyebrows, but nonetheless I decided to give it a go, and I was pleasantly surprised after reading the disappointing World End Economica a while back.

Although Dysfunctional Systems is an original English language (OEL) visual novel, which is generally a good indicator of poor quality, my past experience with another OEL VN (Katawa Shoujo) was actually rather good, so I wasn't deterred from the beginning. Overall, the visual novel was quite good, all things considered, but we can take a bit of a deeper look into things.

First thing's first: the writing. I can't vouch for the story being fresh and original, but it was well executed regardless. The characters' personalities were generally consistent and the story developed in a logical order. However, the visual novel was painstakingly short. I felt like I was just thrown into the middle of things, and even though the story wasn't too complex to figure out what was going on, a longer introduction would've been welcomed with open arms. There's also the issue of how easy it is to get to the bad end. After several playthroughs of making and recording different decisions, in desperate search of the good end, I was sorely disappointed to find that there was none. As it stands, the story is good, but much too short for my liking, and a lot more content is due. The ratio of number of choices to length of story was horribly skewed in the wrong direction, but I can respect the amount of tedious coding it would've taken to link everything together the way it was done.

Technically, the English was rather good. It was by no means perfect, but it made good use of stylistic devices and all of the other things English professors like to rant on about for an easy-to-read experience. There were a few mistakes that the more pedantic of us (such as myself) may wince at, and the word choice was often pretentious, to say the least, but otherwise, Dysfunctional Systems was well written. If anything, it was better than the disgrace World End Economica was, which I can only imagine was a machine translation done by an IBM 5200.

On to the art and sound - long story short, they were also quite good. While the drawing didn't exactly fit the conventional visual novel clique, there was something about the brushed watercolour style art that appealed to me. All the ren'py animations (yeah, I actually bothered to look through the game files to confirm it was a ren'py game) were used well and surprisingly weren't skimped on - this kind of production quality I can appreciate. I'm not much of an audiophile, but I can also vouch for the soundtrack being great on its own. In the game, it can be a bit overpowering at times, but the volume controls presumably exist solely for that purpose. If only they had some voice acting to go with it - in Japanese, of course, since I'm a filthy weeaboo and English sucks - but alas, one can only dream.

It might seem like I'm bashing the game pretty harshly here - and that's probably true - but I actually did enjoy the game. Although it was extremely short (short enough for me to get 100% completion after only 3 hours), and there were the other issues I'd mentioned previously, it was an interesting story and fun to read. Even though I'm bringing it up again - the sheer lack of content was detrimental to the score I gave - we mustn't forget to interpret the ten point scale correctly. 5/10 is perfectly average, and not garbage by any means. Going from there, 6/10 isn't a bad score, despite what IGN and whatnot want you to believe - but that's a story for another time. I know episodes 2 and 3 of this series are due to come soon, though, so hopefully they can make up for where this episode fell short and salvage the trilogy as a whole.
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27 of 33 people (82%) found this review helpful
2.7 hrs on record
Posted: September 1, 2014
Dysfunctional Systems is a visual novel that attempts to portray the idea of a utopian society using their advanced magic dimension-tripping technology and superior history and intellect to help guide other planets in subtle ways -- managing their "chaos". However, Episode 1 presents itself as more of a teaser than an actual iteration in a series due to its short length (two hours is more than enough time to rinse this out), lack of choices and minimal explanation of who or what is really happening in the utopian society.

Given that the start of the game (and store page) makes a point to mention how "Your choices affect the story" theres a distinct lack of any choices to be made. Which is doubly odd as the game takes care to give you a codex with which to keep you up to speed with the world and current trends or plot devices. This may be a personal qualm but I expected it to come in to some use when it came to "managing the chaos" of the world, such as reading it granting an insight into how to take action, but instead the sole decision you get to make in this title has but four resolutions resulting in two endings that you make through a series of choices that are mostly red herrings. This makes the codex feel rather unwarranted as everyone always explains themselves in enough detail such that reading it is a waste of effort.

The writing itself feels quite contrived: characters and, in this episode, countries presented are almost painting-by-numbers in their given role. I mean, who hasnt heard the one about the gruff, old mentor with a plucky, slightly rebellious voice-of-reason apprentice. Or the one about the two large nations stuck in a [cold] war over a third, smaller independence.

That being said, credit where credit is due, the game does look lovely. The UI is clean and distinct, backgrounds are nicely detailed and the character portraits display many emotions in a variety of poses. Most of all it feels consistent -- portraits dont just sit on top of the background but instead fit in, general colours and tone do well to make this.

I can only really hope that future episodes really expand on what I would only really call an extended teaser here.
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12 of 12 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
4.3 hrs on record
Posted: January 12
TL;DR: Since the developer has abandoned the project and the remaining episodes will not be made/released in the foreseeable future I wouldn't spend your money on this. Its story is incomplete and will probably never be completed. In the end by paying $5 for this you'll have 1.5 hours of prologue that is, in itself, not nearly enough to leave you satisfied.

Game review:

Dysfunctional Systems is a visual novel about, as the title inclines, the managing of chaos. The premise of dysfunctional systems revolves around an organisation in some technological utopia that sends meddlers to other worlds to solve their problems and reclaim order. It's an interesting concept, but it's not too different from what we've seen before. That said, it doesn't mean dysfunctional systems has no potential, in fact it has loads of potential. Too bad none of that really matters.

The story is basically an introduction to the universe and it's characters. We get to see the main characters do their jobs as meddlers in a world that is having diplomatic problems. Things escalate, I won't spoil anything, I'll just say that: it's way too short to develop anything outside of a prologue to the other episodes. Yes, there is a story in it, no you're probably not going to cry over it. It isn't insanely good and it isn't bad. At best this will leave you wanting more, where the problem of an abandoned project reels in again.

Even if an incomplete story wouldn't bother you, this first episode leaves too much to be desired and too many questions to be asked. The game is way too short to accomplish any real world building, something that is so important when your game is literally about travelling and meddling in the affairs of other worlds.

The characters, focusing on the two main ones, consist of your basic grumpy teacher and stubborn student. That's not to say the characters aren't enjoyable or not well written, they share some funny and touching moments. It's just that the game is simply way too short to develop any character properly. Thus we are left with... again, nothing special.

Then there are the choices, which are very important to get right when you make something in this medium. It is unfortunately something dysfunctional functions had a serious lack of. The entire game basically has 1 choice. 1 choice in the entire thing. After this one choice dysfunctional systems might (depending on what you choose) present you 2-or so more rather confusing choices. Too bad none of these matter. At all. The only difference is that you'll be getting a different achievement.

Something I can praise dysfunctional systems about is it's amazing art and music.
The art, although perhaps a bit repetitive at times, looks amazing, there isn't a whole lot of animation but that's alright, in the end I wasn't expecting there to be any. The UI is really good, everything fits together nicely and I actually enjoyed reading the few codex entries there were, as bland as they may be. As for the music, it was very nicely done. You won't have the same track looping every other sequence or anything like that here. Good stuff, Ill probably end up listening to it more in the future.

The real reason you shouldn't buy this:

After all that I still feel the need to honestly say that Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos is not a bad visual novel at all, at least, as a prologue. Sure, it doesn't hit all the good spots and the lack of choices is pretty disappointing. But that doesn't mean it's necessarily bad. It does it's job as a prologue - it gets you excited for more whilst giving a basic introduction of the universe.

The real reason you shouldn't buy this is because the developer abandoned the two sequels that were originally planned. Reason? Financial problems and a lack of motivation. The development team did a poor job of financing the funds received from the kickstarter campaign. People have lost a lot of their trust for the developers, and righteously so, it was one big mistake after another for the dev team and the death of Dysfunctional Systems as a result of that. It's a real shame, I would have liked to see more from this.

So, in the end Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos gives us a 1.5 hour prologue of a story that will probably never be made. Whether you are willing to spend $5 on that is your choice, but I personally wouldn't recommend it.
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11 of 12 people (92%) found this review helpful
5.0 hrs on record
Posted: January 2
Episode 1 left a pretty nice taste in my mouth. In the end I wanted more.
But alas, life sucks, and things die. Things like this, but it died early on, and probably won't be getting any sort of sequel until a miracle happens. Or the devs get more money, but that's probably not gonna happen.

But hey, if you're ok with settling with the cliff-hanger-tastic episode 1 for a measly five bucks, go right a head. If you're not, which is probably the majority, then wait for hell to freeze over, that's probably when this game get's finished and it's OK to buy. Unless episodes 2 and 3 end up sucking. Then they wont be ok to buy.
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17 of 25 people (68%) found this review helpful
6.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 5, 2014
I really can't put into words how good I feel about this game. But I'm gonna try.

Learning to Manage Chaos is Part 1 of the Dysfunctional Systems visual novel series. It follows the story of Winter Harrison, a student at some kind of... orginization? It's never too clear. Regardless, you follow the story of Winter and help to make choices that lead to multiple endings, each with varying differences.

The story is amazing. It takes place during a futuristic, post-apocalypse setting, where technology to travel between planets in an instant is available. The characters are all unique and very engaging, making you take sides very often in the story. (Go, Winter!~) For someone like me who likes to escape reality (assignments most of all) it is amazing. It constantly keeps you on your toes, and for the amount of value the story offers, the price is soooo worth it.

The artwork is goregeous. An almost rustic, stylized and crisp style brings alive, yet powerful character designs and image stills for the story events. If you're someone like me who loves a good browse through artwork, the images are available after a certain point.

Finally, the music. What's better than a soundtrack that caresses your ears like a silk glove on your bare bre- arms. I mean arms. What can be better than that? If said soundtrack comes with the game once you purchase it. Done and done. :3

In short, this game is a must-have for your steam library this Chirstmas, with a soundtrack to keep your ears warm by the fire.

~Gen~
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12 of 18 people (67%) found this review helpful
2.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 12, 2014
Dischan makes excellent VNs, though I sometimes think they'd be better off just making anime. If you don't know what a Visual Novel is then Google "Juniper's Knot", which is another game by Dischan that has similar presentation and pacing to this one. (It's free on their site.) That will let you know what to expect here.
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12 of 18 people (67%) found this review helpful
2.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 2
Developer abandoned development for Dysfunctional Systems, there will be no more story. Don't bother buying this unless you feel like wasting money.
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 17
This is basically a prologue. It's a very well done prologue. Unfortunately, it's also abandoned, no further episodes are forthcoming. Sadly, i must recomend you not waste your money.
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7 of 10 people (70%) found this review helpful
2.1 hrs on record
Posted: January 1
Throughout the entire playthrough I was only given the option to make one decision. One. In an hour and a half. And apparently it was the wrong one which was spoiled for me immediately based on the condescending achievement it unlocked.

Beyond the lack of any actual gameplay in this game, I can't even recommend it as a visual novel. It's got lazy artwork, There were only a handful of backgrounds used, only 5 characters drawn (a few others had lines but the conversations took place out in a hall or something so you are left staring at an empty background for 10 minutes).

The 'animation' was nothing more than moving static images around a few pixels. The entire thing just screamed 'LAZY'. I don't understand all the good reviews this has been getting. Have those reviewers never read a real book or played a game where they had meaningful decisions?

I think I paid $5 for this garbage. If I knew what I was getting I wouldn't have paid anything for it. But even if you are REALLY into crappy visual novels with stupid teenager angsty ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ I don't think you should pay more than $0.25 for something this weak.
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.8 hrs on record
Posted: January 17
Let me preface this by saying that I really, really enjoyed Dysfunctional Systems. However, I cannot in good conscience recommend this for many people. Let me explain.

Firstly, what I did like about Dysfunctional Systems. While very short, the story is extremely compelling in terms of the writing, and especially the premise, which is very unique and one of my favorite aspects. The interface is very slick and polished, and the art and character design is fantastic. I absolubtely loved my short romp through the world(s) of Dysfunctional Systems, and I sincerely wish I could spend more time in that world.

Unfortunately, this brings me to why I ultimately cannot recommend Dysfunctional Systems despite its fantastic setting, storywriting, and art direction. Dysfunctional Systems was originally created with the intent of being a 3 episode series, which was funded through kickstarter. However, Dischan, the creators of Dysfunctional Systems have confirmed the cancellation of the release of the next installment of Dysfunctional Systems, and have put the entire series on indefinite hiatus, and most likely permanent cancellation.

I cannot recommend Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos because the entire VN was clearly centered around the notion that it fit into a greater story, and the endings of Learning to Manage Chaos are clearly structered around this assumption. While Learning to Manage Chaos is a great story for what it is, it does not work very well as a standalone story.

If you are willing to play what was suppossed to be the opening for a greater story, then go ahead and get Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos. If you feel like you will be dissapointed by the notion the story is incomplete, then please avoid this title.

It's a pity really because I really did like the premise and setting of Dysfunctional Systems.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.4 hrs on record
Posted: January 20
Slow begining, short completion time, and only 2 endings. That said, I really liked the premise. Seeing as how this is suppose to set up the rest of the trilogy, I don't mind the ending. That said, you may want to pass on this game since development of the rest of the trilogy is at a stand still at the moment. It's a short read but it's only meh since the other parts aren't coming out anytime soon
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
0.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 4
When I first tried Dysfunctional Systems, everything was great. As far as western visual novels go, it seemed pretty promising. The soundtrack was also amazing. The game was very promising. Unfortunately, the developers recently announced that they (more or less) were cancelling Dysfunctional Systems development. Therefore, there's no reason to spend $5 on a cliffhanger ending with no closure.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: January 3
The game is interesting to be sure, but for each line of dialogue and plot exposition i had to endure the endless mental noise spouted by the game's protagonist. It's kinda like playing a modern Final Fantasy game, anything interesting about it ends up drowned in the emotional noise.

Then again, maybe some people appreciate things like this? I remember most japanese VNs being chock-full of incredibly dull inner dialogue.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
5.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 5
As much as I'd loved the game and its concept, the developers have recently announced that they stopped making the rest of the game completely. For 5$ you will get what basically is a demo of a game that will never be released.
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5 of 9 people (56%) found this review helpful
3.2 hrs on record
Posted: December 22, 2014
This Visual Novel is very short, but THE MUSIC. I fell in love with the music and am glad it came with the soundtrack. I already have it on my itunes and occasionally listen to it while i'm playing League of Legends. This is worth picking up if you're feeling lazy and want to slow things down and enjoy a story. I would say its worth the $5, but if it ever goes on sale, then it becomes a must buy.
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4 of 8 people (50%) found this review helpful
4.1 hrs on record
Posted: September 6, 2014
Not sure what to say. It's an interesting 'read', but not exciting and found that there is only one real choice (the others only really help you obtain the achievements)
Maybe episode 2 will be of more interest.
6/10
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5 of 10 people (50%) found this review helpful
2.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 13, 2014
This was different. I cruised thru it and took the easy perfect game.

Not my thing, but does what it intended to do.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
2.1 hrs on record
Posted: January 1
Overall, I think this was a good game experience. This was my first attempt at a visual novel, and it's definitely not for everybody. It didn't take me too long to beat the game, and I'm going to get episode 2 when that comes out to see where the story goes. I think that the biggest downfall to this game was that it took a while before you could really experience the game and make any decisions. After you make your first decision, it's smart to save the game, so you can go back and make different decisions without having to restart the entire game.

This is a short story, and it's obvious that there will be more games out there, as the story line leads to a sequel. I enjoyed the art in the game, as it's visually appealing, but I think the characters could use some work and not be quite as dull. Even though the characters seemed a little dull at times, the storyline was great.

I think it was well worth the money if you are into visual novels, but just know that you are going to be paying for a game that is a little short.
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2 of 4 people (50%) found this review helpful
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: December 27, 2014
Dysfunctional Systems is a visual novel that tells of a story about individuals dealing with problems of other worlds. The protagonist, Winter, is one of such individuals - a mediator - who tries to keep a world in proper order. As with most visual novels, you direct Winter to decide on different choices presented throughout the game, ultimately deciding the story's ending.

The story itself is a quick one, and I do wish it was a bit longer (a playthrough can be done within an hour or so, if you read through it quickly), though it's a bit understandable since this is the first episode in the series - there're a couple more episodes after this one, and I believe there's a prequel in the works as well (you can check out their website to find out more about them). Given the short story, there weren't really a lot of choices. I liked the plot and I'm quite eager to know how it turns out.

The artwork and soundtrack are pretty good too - the visuals are drawn beautifully, and the soundtrack complements the various events in the game. Kudos for including the soundtrack along with the game and not as a separate purchase (I have it on my playlist to listen to on the go, loved the title theme song). It'd be a nice touch to have some character voices though, which should make it even more engaging.

Overall, it's a pretty good title - it has an good and interesting storyline, but is rather short that it's like a teaser for the succeeding episodes. A bit pricey for the length of the story, though the inclusion of the soundtrack more or less offsets this point. Everything else is pretty good - 3.5 out of 5 stars for me.

Postscript: Considering the story and all(and the fact that it has some kind of an anime opening sequence!), they should try producing an animation for this one after all the episodes have been released. It certainly has potential in my opinion - hope you can make it happen Dischan! =)
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