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:
Mostly Positive (746 reviews) - 79% of the 746 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Apr 4, 2013

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“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

Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    • OS: Windows XP
    • Processor: 1.2 GHz Pentium 4
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Integrated Graphics
    • Storage: 500 MB available space
    • OS: Windows 7 or higher
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz Dual-Core
    • Memory: 3 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Dedicated Graphics Card
    • Storage: 500 MB available space
    • OS: OS X 10.6
    • Processor: Any 64 bit processor
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Integrated Graphics
    • Storage: 500 MB available space
    • OS: OS X 10.8 or higher
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz+ Dual-Core
    • Memory: 3 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Dedicated Graphics Card
    • Storage: 500 MB available space
    • Processor: 1.2 GHz Pentium 4
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Integrated Graphics
    • Storage: 500 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: "ia32-libs" package required for 64-bit Linux users
    • Processor: 2.0 GHz Dual-Core
    • Memory: 3 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Dedicated Graphics Card
    • Storage: 500 MB available space
    • Additional Notes: "ia32-libs" package required for 64-bit Linux users
Customer reviews
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Mostly Positive (746 reviews)
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627 reviews match the filters above ( Mostly Positive)
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
8 of 9 people (89%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
0.8 hrs on record
Posted: September 25
Interesting premise, compelling opening to a story, however, it will always be an unfinished series. As, I believe, the developer for this series shut down, this game series has been discontinued and there will not be another installment. Such a shame as this had potential, but the fact it will forever be an unfinished story is the reason I cannot reccommend it.
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
260 of 274 people (95%) found this review helpful
5 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
4.3 hrs on record
Posted: January 12, 2015
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.

Update: As of July 14th, 2015 Dischan Media has officially shut down. Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos will not be reinvigorated.

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 do 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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232 of 245 people (95%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
8.3 hrs on record
Posted: January 5, 2014
Juniper's Knot is another game created by the same people that made Dysfunctional Systems, and is legally free to download for Windows, Mac, Linux, and iOS at Dischan's website. It's pretty short, and should give you a good idea whether or not you'll actually enjoy this game.

You'll probably notice that there was no sort of interactivity involved in playing Juniper's Knot, aside from clicking to progress to the next line of text. This is more or less how Dysfunctional Systems plays, except this game actually has moments where you get to choose from a short list of options what you (Winter) should do. However, there aren't many times you actually get to do this, and it is actually possible to play through the entire story by only making a single decision. All of the choice moments in the game are placed together around half-way through the game, and they only lead to two endings. The ending you get is determined entirely by whether or not you can convince your mentor (Cyrus) to listen to what you have to say, and not do what he initially decides he should do in order to solve the problem he's given. I wouldn't consider either ending to be a "good ending", but I suppose that's why this is only the first episode in the series.

As for how the game looks and sounds, the artstyle is similar to Juniper's Knot's, and you can listen to the ost on YouTube, so you can decide for yourself if you like those parts before you buy the game. If you really like the sountrack, you can find all 18 tracks in both flac and mp3 format in the game's files.

This game is short. I'm not a fast reader, but I played through this the first time in only about two and a half hours, then about another hour to get the second ending. You can get more playtime by going through all the routes for the achievements for a little extra replayability, but there's a guide on the game's community hub that'll tell you exactly what routes you need to go through to unlock all the achievements.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, episode 2 of Dysfunctional Systems is planned to be released by September later this year, and episode 3 by March 2015. Until these episodes are finished and released to the public, the story in this game is incomplete. If you're looking for a complete story, then you should at least wait until the next two episodes come out.

EDIT: Yeah, Dysfunctional Systems is dead. Basically, a bunch of stuff happened that caused the devs to stop working on episodes 2 and 3. The prequel will be released, but other than that, it's not certain if we will ever see more from this series. Because of this, if you're going to buy this game, know that you probably will never be able to get the full story that was planned out for this game, and what is available isn't all that much.
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163 of 177 people (92%) found this review helpful
3.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 10, 2013
The first of the few visual novels that'll eventually land on Steam through Greenlight, and one that IS NOT made by Japanese. It is important to know that this genre is less gameplay, and more of a narrative through combining visual design and audio work. The few gameplay options are that of "dialogue choices", which you might be more familiar with in case of Mass Effect, choose-your-own-adventure kind of novels, or point-and-click adventure games. Each episode will present dialogue choices that'll affect the story outcome for future episodes.

The game takes places in a utopian world, where you play as Winter Harrison, a young 14 year old girl who is pursueing the career of a mediator. But what is a mediator? A mediator takes the job of travelling to chaotic worlds and attempts to restore order by finding the root of the cause and remedy it through various methods. The first chapter follows Winter's second meditation, where she shadows an experienced mediator, Cyrus Addington, who will mentor her through the process of solving a poverty stricken country known as Brighton.

The game features beautiful artwork, an amazing soundtrack, and interesting writing style that can't help but draw me in. My only complaint is that it is unfortunately short, but being only $5 is more than worth the price (since it comes with an amazing soundtrack, did I mention its really good?) and definitely a cheap investment for a new interactive experience.

If you have any confusion or are sitting on the fence of investing the money to playing this game, I recommend trying out Juniper's Knot, its a free game that Dischan made that'll introduce you to either visual novels or their style of production a little bit better.
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107 of 114 people (94%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Not Recommended
3.2 hrs on record
Posted: February 15, 2015
I just finished this first episode and I must say it was absolutely fantastic! It's been a long time since a VN I've played had a story that was so engaging and held my interest so much. I mean, the art is very well done, the music is excellent and the story itself is something that's rather unique and it was very well written to top everything off.

I could go on and on about how great this visual novel is. But like others, I can't, in good conscience, recommend anyone purchase this game.

You see, after finishing this first episode, I raced to the forums to see when I could expect the next installment to show up. Alas, I found the message, dated over a month ago, stating that Dysfunctional Systems was no more and that future episodes would most likely not see the light of day. I still hold a small hope for that one miracle to happen though.

So, while you may feel free to ignore my (and others') non-recommendation and purchase this game, you will still be receiving an excellent piece of writing and an excellent game in general. Just don't expect any more, at least for the time being.
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80 of 89 people (90%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: January 3
(Full review follows below)

  • Game Name: Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos
  • Original Release: 2013
  • Genre Tags: Visual Novel; Sci-Fi; Anime; Story Rich; Great Soundtrack
  • My Overall Grade: A-
  • Estimated Playtime (Campaign): 2-5 hours
  • Multiplayer Aspect: None
  • Recommended To: Established fans of the genre; Those intrigued by the genre; Aesthetes; Strong narrative advocates; Visual novel buffs

Visual novels are not for everyone, and that is fair. Even fans of the genre can admit that some of them are boring and disinteresting. That said, Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos is one of the best visual novels I have “played” to date. Instead of relying on cartoon drawings of “waifus” in underwear to keep your interest, it actually has a very interesting and well-told story. (But don't worry, there are still some cartoon drawings of "waifus" in underwear). The artwork is high quality and the soundtrack is one my personal favorites in the realm of video games. In fact, it’s one of my favorite music albums in general, but I also like that genre of music a lot. Anyway, if you like a good sci-fi tale, and enjoy visual novels with real substance, this is one you probably want to consider trying.

Unfortunately, the game was intended to be episodic and it does end on a cliffhanger; and at this time it seems unlikely the development team is going to be able to produce more installments. Such is life. There is still a very interesting and self-contained story within the game that I think most sci-fi fans will find interesting. You can just ignore the epilogue and still enjoy the primary narrative. If you think you would like this game, but only don’t want to try it because of the open ending, then that is your choice. But I think you will be missing out.

The universe created and the primary storyline are both products of premiere sci-fi writing. I was enthralled the entire time. The soundtrack is comprised of amazing songs, and each one perfectly captures the emotion of the game at the time it is played. The art style is mostly traditional and nothing overtly special, but it also is pleasantly not overloaded with stereotypical anime cringe and unnecessary sexuality. It is a nice, well-produced visual novel that can be taken seriously.

Dysfunctional Systems: Learning to Manage Chaos isn’t for everyone, but I think it will appeal to fans of good sci-fi and fans of the standard visual novel paradigm. Yes, it is unfortunate that we (probably) won’t get any more installments set in this universe, but this visual novel is still very highly enjoyable. Some things will be left unanswered, but that happens all the time in storytelling.

And, honestly, if you can find it for a good price, I would recommend it for the soundtrack alone. I know music tastes are highly subjective, but damn do I love these tunes.

Follow my curation page to see more of my recommendations!
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89 of 105 people (85%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
15.1 hrs on record
Posted: May 28, 2015
As the series has officially been discontinued, it is not possible to endorse this game, which is entirely an introduction to something that doesn't exist.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
187 of 250 people (75%) found this review helpful
26 people found this review funny
2.8 hrs on record
Posted: August 18, 2014


Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
65 of 70 people (93%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
5.1 hrs on record
Posted: November 27, 2015
It pains me a little not recommending this novel, cause i really liked it.
But since it's project got cancelled, i don't think it's worth buying it now.

If you're really interested:
+The story is really interesting.
+The protagonist is charismatic.
+The artwork is pretty.
-Didn't had enough time to develop/present the other characters due the little time.
-The story ends up with too much holes and unanswered questions.
-A continuation is improbable, or should i say impossible? Sadly. :'[
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
88 of 106 people (83%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Not Recommended
2.3 hrs on record
Posted: June 14, 2015
Great artwork, soundtrack and story, but since it has been cancelled and they won't be finishing the story, I don't think I should recommend it. It's like buying an incomplete game. I think if it's on a sale, you should take a look at it if you really feel like it. But still, it is an imcomplete story in the end.
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Recently Posted
불꽃이여! (불꼬치여!)
21.9 hrs
Posted: August 28
This is a beautiful game, but it's not worth $5. Get it for free on the Dischan website.
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11.8 hrs
Posted: August 1

That being said, it's frankly a great game. Great moving music and great storie line even if you only have 4 choices. You can feel the passion about it, truly. It's just a shame that we'll never get to see the end of it...
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2.6 hrs
Posted: July 21
Learning to manage chaos. How ironic.
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6.1 hrs
Posted: July 18
This is ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥t,

This is an amazing story from some amazingly creative people,
sadly, creative people dont handle money well
and they had to cancel the next two games indefinately.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
2.2 hrs
Posted: June 8
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Saddistic Commuter
10.0 hrs
Posted: May 30
This is a painful review to make because on the one hand, the game's story is really interesting and somewhat engaging like a typical Visual Novel would but without having to resort to overused tropes and makes it clear that it has it's own identity from the get go.

But on the other hand, there's no following story because the dev team ♥♥♥♥ed up hard and tried to be a fully functional studio like Telltale Games is by comparison and produce several titles following after this. The sad truth is, there was no form of planning or meetings being held consistently. The studio filed bankruptcy some time after this title was released. The management was abyssmal, to say the least...

Onto the game, it has a very good soundtrack, one I still enjoy hearing to this day, the art style is nice to look at even if bleak at times for dramatic effect (well used and impactful I might add) and the dialogue is quite mature, despite being very one sided for a pretty good chunk of it, it doesn't feel draggingly long like in other games and is actually well written enough if you are into untraditional VNs. The included encyclopedia like feature is however not useful for most of the story aside from it's introduction. It is wasted effort and could have been made much more relevant if they bothered with it a little more than to just add an entry every now and then for plot purposes, which is to it's detriment. The amount of work put into the encyclopedic portion of the game is respectable but ultimately laughable if you take out the important bits that relates to the plot which, again, were used to introduce the player to its function/presence.

"Should you play this game in my opinion?" is the last question left to be answered; as of right now, no.
The end is a cliff hanger into the next volume that will never come. If, by some miracle, this gets a reboot/revival by the original creator and owner of the copyright and is actively working on developing the sequel, then I will revise my judgement of this first game and give it a recommendation, but unless things start moving again for the development of just chapter 2, stay away from this and save some money for an actually finished game.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
5.2 hrs
Posted: May 25
One of the most well presented VNs ever.
This is supposed to be just the first episode of a long series of games, but sadly the entire project was cancelled.
It's still worth your time if you're tired of all the low quality VNs floating around on Steam and Greenlight and need to purify your brain with some ♥♥♥♥ that makes some sense. This is how a good VN shoud look and feel like, with characters and backgrounds moving smoothly together with the captivating soundtrack. Not just a slideshow with drawings simply disappearing and appearing. So they really nailed the 'visual' part of the 'visual novel' genre. Even the UI is beautiful.

Unfortunately the 'novel' part isn't as perfect because the story is unfinished. The setting is still intact, and it's genuinely interesting, and the visual elements set the mood just right for this little futuristic trip to a doomed world. But it's not finished and it's never going to be. I would personally still go for it, but nobody can blame you for not wanting to play an incomplete game.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Shobogun Lover
0.4 hrs
Posted: May 9
This was the most boring game I've suffered 26 minutes into. I started rapid clicking through the script just to see when the game would ever actually become a game. There are hardly any choices throughout the story and it's very long winded. Even if the art is pretty it's not worth playing for just the art.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
2.7 hrs
Posted: May 5
Company is bankrupt after they managed to flush all of their kickstarter money down the drain. Episode 1 is short and is definetly NOT worth 5 euros.
Helpful? Yes No Funny