Lend me 50,000 Yen
Goichi Suda really needs no introduction, the master of over the top action, senseless violence and confusing, yet endearing, stories and characters started his own company Grasshopper Manufacture in 1998 and one year later released its debut game, The Silver Case. This first outing was certainly more grounded than their most recent games but that didn’t keep it from achieving the cult classic status even outside of Japan despite never being released in English. Fast forward to 2017 and The Silver Case finally got an international release on consoles through a remastered version on PlayStation 4, but how well does it hold up?
Taking place in an alternate 1999, the player finds himself thrown into an investigation of a series of murders that have been taking place in the 24 Wards which has Kamui Uehara has its primary suspect, a man said to have been dead in ‘The Silver Case’. After the introductory chapter the game is broken into two parts, each with a string of numbered episodes each: Transmitter and Placebo. Transmitter directly follows the story of the player and the members of the Heinous Crime Police Department as they try to uncover the secrets behind the murderer, and Placebo in which you take control of a reporter named Tokio Morishima who’s been contracted to investigate about Kamui Uehara.
The Silver Case is simply put a sleek visual novel with light point and click elements thrown in, at times you’re able to navigate through pre-determined paths in 3D environments, usually identified with wireframe shapes, and in some of those occasions you might have to solve a quick puzzle or two. These are fantastic distractions from the main text-heavy adventure; my personal favourite has to be the one in the initial chapter. In it you’re tasked to use a machine that cyphers letters in order to unlock doors in the facility that you’re in. It might sound simple but it was really fun, using a pen and a piece of paper to write down the cyphered letters so that I could decipher the key of each door felt oddly rewarding. Despite how good these puzzles might be they’re hindered by the game’s clunky controls, mainly because of how rigid moving around feels. This remaster improves navigation ever so slightly by adding a fast-forward function but movement still feels unintentionally cumbersome.
Masafumi Takada, who also contributed to other Grasshopper Manufacture projects, sets the tone for every raunchy detective talk, grotesque revelations and laid back moments in the game rather well. The one blemish in the sound department has to be the irritating sound from the dialog. Each letter of each word uttered by every single character in the game is accompanied by the sound of an old printer, while this is amusing at first it quickly becomes annoying especially if you’re playing with headphones. Thankfully you’re able to lower the sound effects or even remove them completely making for a much better experience.
The game may come to a conclusion at around 10 hours if you overlook the Placebo reports, which I highly recommend that you don’t as they add a lot of details to the main plot of the game. The PlayStation 4 version also has the added bonus of including two brand new chapters; Transmitter has a new epilogue titled #25 whiteout which serves as a short preview to the episodic The Silver Case: Ward 25 and Placebo has a new final report titled *6 YAMI that takes place months after the last chapter of the game, serving as a conclusion of the initial game.
The 18 year wait finally came to an end and I couldn’t be happier with what I experienced. The PlayStation 4 version of The Silver Case does a fantastic job at recapturing the essence of the original while improving it in some regards; it was a bizarrely surreal trip to the 24 Wards that I surely won’t forget. This is what I came to expect from SUDA51, the unexpected.
SGR SCORE: 8/10