|Genre||Adventure, Simulation, Puzzle|
|Release Date||July 6, 2021|
Kill the Past.
Ok, I’m having too much fun.
The Silver Case 2425 is a remake of the two-part mystery thriller visual novel series directed by Suda51 (killer7, No More Heroes). The Silver Case and 25th Ward: The Silver Case, the games in this collection, were originally released for the PlayStation 1 and mobile phones respectively. For fans of Suda’s games, the Silver Case (TSC) series is the absolute next thing to be played for Western fans, especially since Travis Strikes Again pulls several cameos and story points from this series.
So if you’re willing to dive into the past, let’s hop into TSC, separate the truth and the facts, and ultimately decide if The Silver Case series is worth remembering. These games are fairly lengthy, so I will be tackling the review differently. First, I will break down The Silver Case and what is done well and wrong. The same will be done with 25th Ward. Then I will wrap up how the collection holds up as its own product.
Graphic & Mature Situations
Both Silver Case games involve graphic situations, mostly murder, including one mention of rape and a separate scenario of implied sex. There is sexual material in the first game of candid footage of a woman in her apartment with text chat such as “She’s got nice legs,” which is the tamest of them. There are also images of women in sexually provocative clothing, both real life and art, as well as one mention of sexually provocative videos, e.g., “At dodgy websites and underground clubs, you could buy secretly filmed videos…of her diddling herself…”
In the second game, there is one instance of an online chatroom where people can buy private time per minute with an “online performer” with or without mic and/or camera. In one instance, when fighting off an assassin, there’s an option to “get horny” as a possible distraction.
Themes in these two games surround the balance of individual power versus political power and tackles the consequences and risks involved in making a utopia. Both games take reference from “hardboiled” detective dramas which often depict the dark underbelly of crime. Political factions fight for power over the country and police forces are allowed to operate outside of the restrictions of the law to eliminate crime by any means necessary. Characters will often discuss not only their own personal issues, but also issues with the government, and whether their actions fall under “right” or “wrong”.
Especially in the first game, there are several situations where women are undermined. While nothing is blatant harassment (as far as intent from one character to another), one supporting female character, Chizuru Hachisuka, is constantly judged for her work mindset and is the target of quite a few uncomfortable jokes, though she is abrasive due to her younger age and pride/insecurity with her knowledge of forensic science. She, herself, makes a joke of similar taste, apologizing for her behavior due to “being on her period”. However, the context in which this joke was made is up to your own interpretation.
Another major example is another supporting character, Morichika Nakategawa, who lightly hints at his sexual preference for younger girls during a situation where a hidden camera recording of a female idol is released on the internet for people to watch.
One of the main characters in the first game, Tetsugoro Kusabi, swears a lot. He is overshadowed by another main character in the second game, Shinko Kuroyanagi, who cusses up a storm. Words like f***, sh**, c***, and a**, along with numerous variations, are often used. There is also a scenario of an online dark web chatroom with people who have vulgar usernames and speak vulgarly too.
While there is nothing too visually explicit, there are many scenes of people shot or bleeding. The blood is usually enhanced by the use of red in some chapters that use a specific color scheme. There are also several horror-like visions of what appear to be ghosts, though it isn’t necessarily confirmed. One scenario is a distorted image of a group of people to indicate deceit or hidden malice.
There is an indication of “criminal power”, that the capability to commit a crime is like a virus or even a measurable capacity. A recurring character, Tokio Morishima, is haunted by visions of what appear to be the dead, and they talk to him through his body or in his head.
Kill The Past
In The Silver Case, you take control of the newest member of the Heinous Crimes Unit (HCU) of Ward 24 that is attempting to track down the whereabouts of the notorious serial killer, Kamui Uehara. The story is split into two paths: Transmitter and Placebo. Transmitter follows the player character (named Akira in other official media) and the HCU. Placebo follows Tokio Morishima, a freelance reporter who is hired to find information on the escaped killer, Kamui.
TSC, as a visual novel, is rather unique since it plays like an adventure dungeon crawler with light puzzles. The puzzles are definitely wild because some of them required the original manual from the PS1 version. This was mitigated by an auto-complete button, but that cheapened the experience for me. Movement and interaction are easy thanks to a shortcut button to let you quickly interact with people or objects and return to navigation, as opposed to going back and forth with the original radial menu.
Aside from that, the story itself is very enthralling. There is a lot of mystery and intrigue that you’re trying to understand along with the thematic undertones about postmodern individualism and the ethics of administering justice. The writing holds up the story, albeit with a few clunky scenes due to dated tropes, especially regarding the treatment of its female characters. While not outright blatant, it still feels awkward in scenes with Chizuru Hachisuka, the sole female HCU member.
The other fault with the story is that it starts to rush in the bottom half, with some scenes becoming expositional text dumps you have to trudge through during the climactic finale. There are also a number of unanswered questions that fail to directly connect TSC‘s resolution to the events of The 25th Ward. The story itself is wrapped up fairly well, but players who become invested in the lore will be left unsatisfied.
Visually, the Silver Case series boasts a wonderfully creative layout. Each chapter of Transmitter has its own unique color composition. The use of boxed space and cut-ins adds to the dramatic effect for certain scenes, almost like a dynamic comic. Unfortunately, the game’s FMVs are still in their original format and resolution. I personally didn’t mind it, but it is jarring compared to the high-resolution portraits and UI that were done for the remaster.
Kill The Life
In The 25th Ward (which I will refer to as 25), you traverse its story a la Pulp Fiction, following three separate paths: Correctness, Matchmaker, and Placebo once again. Correctness has you control the newest member of Ward 25’s Heinous Crimes Unit as you tackle various strange murder cases with fellow agents Shinko Kuroyanagi and Mokutaro Shiroyabu. Matchmaker follows the Regional Adjustment Bureau, a shadow government agency that discretely maintains Ward 25’s pristine and secure environment and public image. The chapters follow agents Shinkai Tsuki and Yotaro Osato, who track Ward 25’s HCU while ensuring their monitoring isn’t discovered. Placebo continues to the story of Tokio Morishima who, after the events of another Suda51 title, Flower, Sun, and Rain, wakes up on a houseboat located within Ward 25 with amnesia and tries to figure out what his goals are by conducting internet investigations with the hacker, Slash.
25 plays similarly to TSC but with a lot more attitude. The game oozes style with the stark contrast of its gradient aesthetic and soundtrack that reflects Masafumi Takada’s current style. Characters are bursting with personality and chat up a storm. 25 comes in swinging compared to TSC‘s more subdued approach to the story. It definitely feels a lot more exciting to catch up with each story as chapters progress.
Gameplay is more straightforward, only requiring you to advance from area to area without needing to check each cardinal direction. There could be confusion with navigation since, unlike TSC, you can’t look where you’re going next anymore, but I think this format fits better. The selection menu has been replaced with a 3D die menu, starting with four options: look, talk, move, and item. However, options will be blocked or added throughout the story, leading to a temporarily more straightforward setup. The major problem with the die menu is when you have to input answers, as 25 has a lot more of these than TSC did.
I truly enjoyed my time with 25 much more than TSC. I appreciate both games’ stories, but TSC definitely has a slower burn. Even with the third storyline going on, I was quickly invested in all of them with the writing of these characters. I think my Pulp Fiction comparison was much more accurate than I had initially realized. The dialogue is snappy and filled with charm. The primary characters and their unique behaviors bounce off each other well. The puzzles are also a lot more interesting and felt more appropriate compared to the puzzles in TSC.
Suda caps 25 with his own commentary on video games, as per usual. This is something that players will either love or hate. Meta humor is fairly hit-or-miss, but I feel Suda usually hits the mark, not in a comedic, laugh-out-loud sense, but more matter-of-factly and with dry observation.
Save The Past
I don’t normally play visual novels that often, but I really enjoyed these two games, and I found the story fun and interesting to follow. The characters’ interactions with each other were by far the biggest factor in my enjoyment of the two games. For detective dramas, the repertoire between the detective duo is sacred. Kusabi and Sumio are the more classic example of the veteran and the newbie, while Kuroyanagi and Shiroyabu are closer to equally-experienced associates; meanwhile, Tsuki and Osato are the chaotic duo and the strangest pair of the bunch, similar to Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction.
I think these games are definitely worth picking up. Their presentation and story have definitely held up despite their age. There’s a lot of charm to be found in Suda’s works that gets overshadowed by No More Heroes‘ popularity. It takes a bit of perseverance, but what you’ll find in these games is worth discovering.
The Bottom Line
Despite some clunky navigation and inconclusive plot resolutions, The Silver Case 2425 offers an enthralling narrative and character interaction.