I had no idea what was happening most of the time, but strangely, I want to play more Suda51 games.
Type: Single Player
Genre: Visual Novel
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: NIS America
Release date: July 6, 2021
I always wanted to play The Silver Case. I’ve heard it being recommended a lot and both The Silver Case and The 25th Ward looked interesting. Of course, I never really got around to it, but imagine my surprise when news of The Silver Case 2425 being announced for the Switch. And well, what’s a better time to finally play The Silver Case than now, especially when I’m waiting for No More Heroes 3 to release.
The Silver Case takes place in 1999 in a city called the 24 Wards, or Ward 24, which is meant to be an addition to the already existing 23 in real life. However, due to the conflict between its citizens, the crime rate here has skyrocketed and it is believed that the crime is transmittable due to anyone that commits a crime having a Crime Virus. One of the high profile crimes that happened was labeled as Silver Case, which you don’t learn about the specifics till way later, but you do know that Kamui was the one behind it. The game actually starts with the man who captured Kamui, Kusabi who is now with the Heinous Crimes Unite, suddenly being shot at by a mysterious man.
And the character you play? You play a silent protagonist (which is believed to be due to trauma or just being weird) that is a part of the Special Forces Unit, well for now, with your team the one that responded to Kusabi’s call and later when Kamui escapes. Sadly, you were the only survivor from your team and thus, you were scouted and placed in the Heinous Crimes Unit. However, it’s pretty clear that they don’t exactly like you, if the fact that none of them want you as their partner (no matter if it’s temporary), leaves you to do all the work and still take credit, and your nickname from Kusabi being Big Dick. No matter, as from here on you’re assisting them with investigating various cases that open up, with some being related to Kamui and some not.
Most of the gameplay here outside of the visual novel sections will have you walking through the various locations that you’re sent to investigate. Floating triangles help you see how far you’ll go when you move forward (you can also look at the command box at the bottom right to tell if you can move in case if it’s unclear or there’s a door) and stars showing areas that you can interact with something or someone (or “contact”). There is also an implement option, but that it isn’t used apart from one section (if memory serves me correctly) around halfway through. You’ll also come across some puzzles, but if you don’t want to do them or just can’t figure it out, there is an option for it to auto-solve it. Which is helpful as I don’t think I could have done the first set where you decipher words into a passcode (even looking up an explanation for it is confusing). These exploration sections can also be confusing to tell what you need to do to continue sometimes, requiring you to talk to everyone in that area or look up (which you don’t really need to do a lot, so you may forget that you even can).
The Silver Case also has a storyline running alongside the main one that your character is going through. The one your character is going through is labeled as Transmitter, while the one running alongside it is called Placebo, which follows Tokio Moroshima’s point of view. You actually meet him in Transmitter, though it looks like Tokio sees himself cooler than he is, which jump started what happens in his chapters. Tokio, as you learn in Placebo, is actually a freelance reporter that recently got a high profile request to investigate and report on Kamui. He also enjoys Placebo branded cigarettes, which is probably where the name for his chapters come from. You don’t exactly get to do anything here, as you’ll mainly spend your time in his apartment as he checks his emails, send emails or calling his various contacts or his ex-girlfriend Erika (who ends up helping you), writing in is memo like a diary of sorts, and talking to his pet turtle. Sometimes he does go out to meet his contact at the HC Unit that he managed to (kind of) befriend, get more cigarettes, and to a bar where he’ll talk to the bartender there.
Placebo chapters are unlocked once you finish the corresponding Transmitter chapter, and while instinct calls for you to play all of Transmitter before going to Placebo, I recommend playing them one after another (so Transmitter to Placebo and back to Transmitter) as they happen at the same time. I may even go as far as to say play both matching Transmitter and Placebo chapters before taking a break from the game if you can. These help you understand what happened in the Transmitter chapter, as you get another perspective and it does lay out what happened in a more concise way, and Tokio gets in some weird situations as his story develops. Not to mention that you don’t really go anywhere and witness things through his eyes, as at most you go out to a bar and meet Erika, as he describes what happens in his memos or through emails. And having played the Transmitter episode immediately before helps in visualizing it.
Everything here is pretty weird and does take a while to get used to. Very often you’ll most likely have no idea what just happened or what they’re even talking about, which probably isn’t helped as characters sometimes have a tendency to go on a tangent and you do switch between locations to see what someone else is doing and speaking to. One of them you encounter early on is what exactly is the Silver Case, the truth around Kamui, and the terrifying ghosts that pop up and speak to you. But as you get further, you do get used to the style and the things you were confused on are revealed to be mysteries that were meant to be revealed or more understood later on (which is showcased by how the Placebo chapters are handled). The tangents also lets you get to know the characters more, which is a net positive. There is also a lot of reading between the lines on what was inferred. That is to say, everything comes together by the end.
There are also some unique times where you get an animated cutscene and even FMV scenes that most are well done and add to what’s being described to you.
Packaged with The Silver Case is also its sequel, The 25th Ward, which takes place many years after the events of The Silver Case. Well, technically, a game called Flower, Sun, and Rain happens between these two games, but it’s also only localized on the DS (and only a physical release it seems) so fingers crossed for a remaster. This mainly follows new characters, but some ones you met in the previous ones do return to make an appearance again. This takes place, well, in the newly built 25th Ward which is meant to be a better 24th Ward and a utopia that won’t have the same mistakes. Except… there may be a strange string of deaths happening in a high-rise apartment complex.
Life in the 25th Ward is also different from what it was in the 24th Ward. Luckily, while there are elements here that will confuse the heck out of you (with some even after completing everything, like The Silver Case), it doesn’t leave you in confusion for everything. It even gives off the initial impression of being more understandable (ha).
Just like in The Silver Case, there are more than one story going on at the same time, but this one has three: Correctness, Matchmaker, and Placebo. The recommended order is like the first, switching between them all (or in this case, running in circles as the different stories are positioned on a triangle). However, I think it would be fine if you do all of one before going to the next. They all do intersect, but it’s not as much to where you’d be as confused as in The Silver Case. Not to mention that the next chapters are often continuing from their own previous chapter, rather than another’s, splitting off into their own little thing.
The first, and main, one is called Correctness which follows Shiroyabu and Kuroyanagi from the Heinous Crimes Unit. This story also introduces a silent character, presumably taking the place as Big Dick, but he doesn’t really show up past a couple scenes and instead it looks like it’s Shiro (who gets the nickname Jabroni from Kuro). This starts out with the investigation of mysterious murders, which have been classified as suicides, happening at a high-rise apartment complex, but it soon butts heads with the Postal Federation deliverymen (and we’re not talking about mail) once they learn what really happened. They do investigate other cases… before it gets weird.
The next is Matchmaker, following Tsuki and Osato from the Regional Adjustment Bureau. The RA Bureau actually administers the Postal Federation’s deliverymen (or hitmen) and their divers (or observers). They tackle cases that the Postal Federation won’t be able to do, but they both do “adjustments” (or kill), “processing” (or interrogation and/or breaking their mind so they won’t be able to blab), and employ “cleaners” who covers up their scenes so the public won’t know. While Tsuki and Osato makes sure the HC Unit, or anyone else, isn’t sniffing to close, but it soon dives into a whole lot of backstabs and going into Tsuki’s dark past. Before spiraling into weird of course.
The last is the returning Placebo story featuring Tokio Moroshima. This time around, he has a lot more to do and isn’t used to go over what you saw in the other two (only Chapter 0 serves as a Silver Case recap to tell you information in a more understandable way). With his turtle Red, he now lives on a house boat and has lost most of his memories. While you’ll be trying to help him recover them, you’ll also try to find someone going by the internet handle “goddess” with your old friend going by Slash. Journal entries return, but most don’t seem to be coming from him, you won’t be checking main as much (I even believe one section is just a joke on how much you had to in Silver Case), but you will be in chat logs a lot (with even some puzzles having you pick the right option to go with the “flow”). Also, this has the best last chapter of the three (and maybe even my favorite storyline of the three).
There are some minor annoyances here though, which may be due to it being a mobile release originally. Exploration sections are different this time around, with movement being controlled by selecting an option in the direction of an open corridor or door (which is fine, but weird coming directly from The Silver Case). Interacting also changes, being on a four-sided dice that represents the usual Look, Talk, Item, but can also change depending on what’s needed like to look at your computer. It’s a huge pain to use with the directional pads (and I’m assuming with mouse and keyboard), but it does get better with the stick. However, the dice continues to be used as a way to input answers for puzzles. Making inputting letters annoying as you try to find the letter you need (numbers is also annoying, but only if you’re not using the stick to control it). The dice is a cool idea, but it’s so annoying and it only really works well for the dialog or more wordy choices as the long dice act more like you’re cycling through the options.
The 25th Ward is also one of those games where you have to select an interaction multiple times to progress as new dialog will show up and you can’t continue before you see it all. I really don’t see why it all couldn’t have been said all at once. Especially for situations where it would have flowed better.
Though, you can now save even during the visual novel parts, rather than just the exploration sections, in the middle of a chapter.
There are puzzles here, but they are mainly remembering what you were just told, with some having you figure it out based on the clue you were given. And another where you have to search a hotel two separate times for a specific door.
Performance wise, it’s not too surprising that it runs well on the Switch (after all, it is great to have visual novels on the go), but I did notice that the text froze up a couple times in Chapter 4 in The Silver Case (which may have been due to the background used). I also ran into a problem where the game became weirdly laggy during an exploration section and had some weird background sounds in the same chapter when I took it out from my dock (it was easily fixable by closing the game though).
Otherwise, while I do like how the text was presented like it was being typed up then and there and the unique way everything was placed, I did often wished that the character who was speaking have their named displayed around the text box, rather than the little box outlined around the character’s face or image, as their name quickly disappears and sometimes it’s against a background you can’t read white text as well. As well as a log so you can go back to see previous text. I also do recommend turning down the volume for the text sound as the constant clicks do get a bit much at the default volume after a while.
The Silver Case 2425 is a weird one, and is kind of hard to get into at first and does take a while for you to get sucked in. Though, I do recommend staying with it. This presents a story with many mysterious parts, and some confusing, and it builds up until later on when the truths are revealed (and even then there’s some mystery tied to it, needing you to look deeper into what was said). This is a perfect opportunity to finally play The Silver Case and The 25th Ward if you haven’t already as the stories here are pretty good at the end of the day. However, I did personally find myself enjoying The Silver Case more as it felt like a tighter story, the translation felt better, and it didn’t have the small annoyances that 25th Ward does.
Granted, if you’re intending to play No More Heroes 3 next month, it does seem like The Silver Case series is connected as we know Uehara was in Travis Strikes Again (and one of the endings here was that) and one of the released characters for NMH3 is “NT Kamui”, featuring one silver eye (along with a theory floating around that Travis now has one now).