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 (548 reviews)
Release Date: Apr 4, 2013

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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

PC
Mac
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
48 of 58 people (83%) found this review helpful
2.8 hrs on record
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.
Posted: August 18
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16 of 20 people (80%) found this review helpful
5.7 hrs on record
One of the best written stories I've ever had the privilege of reading, paired with superb art and complementary music.
Posted: June 6
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8 of 9 people (89%) found this review helpful
3.7 hrs on record
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.
Posted: September 14
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.3 hrs on record
Dysfunctional Systems is a short visual novel about the organization that travels to other "systems" or worlds in order to solve the chaos that is brewing there. Art, music, story, all the elements are superb. Parts 2 and 3 should be coming sooner or later since their Kickstarter was succesfull so here's to more of Dysfunctional Systems!
Posted: September 28
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.5 hrs on record
Dysfunctional Systems follows a fourteen-year-old mediator-in-training named Winter. A mediator's job is to travel to other planets and to balance the scale of order and chaos by whatever means necessary. Winter is shadowing a mediator, Cyrus, known for being cold and willing to kill in the blink of an eye. Assigned to the planet of Sule, their mission is to balance the scale.

The game's art, from the start, is beautiful (I could stare at the menu for a long time). The characters are all well drawn and expressive. The story is written well and the characters' personalities really seal the deal and just pull you in. You can tell how Cyrus is from the art and his lines; he's cold, but also has a side that you don't hear being talked about. Winter is very expressive and idealistic, and it is easily conveyed to the reader. She's not just some random protag-kun, but she has her own personality, and it shows. The music fits perfectly with the setting, and the setting further immerses you and you can quickly get a good idea as to how everything is. The detail in your character's actions and movements has plenty of detail; it gives you enough to where you can picture exactly what's happening.

By the end, I was dying for more. Sadly, I finished it in around three hours, give or take a few minutes depending on your choice. There is one choice you can make, but from my experience through the second playthrough, it changes the story line in many ways. Reading after the choice was completely different between option A and option B. It wasn't worlds-apart different, but you could definitely see the changes; I found this highly fascinating.

I'm not a major reviewer, so I'd say the only con I could find was it's three-hour playtime, but I'd also say it's a pro because it readies you for more episodes and leaves you wanting more. This game was right up my alley, and I'm utterly excited for the rest of the episodes.
Posted: September 29
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210 of 217 people (97%) found this review helpful
8.3 hrs on record
PLAY JUNIPER'S KNOT BEFORE YOU BUY THIS GAME!
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.
Posted: January 5
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