The 25th Ward The Silver Case Review – Free of Flaws?
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture, Active Gaming Media
Publisher: NIS America
Release: 13th March 2018
I love Suda51, from his cult classic Killer7 to the more recent No More Heroes Series, the distinct style and amazing humour. Unfortunately, his debut visual novel The Silver Case was too much of his craziness, suffering from a plot even die-hard can hardly uncover. Luckily, the sequel The 25th Ward The Silver Case finally presents us with an experience worthy of being called good.
Like the predecessor, it once again focuses on the city divided into 24 districts. Yet, with the establishment of the name giving 25th Ward, two detectives are drawn into a spiral of mysterious murders. Divided into three parts with five episodes each, they have to uncover the truth but soon have to find out that, 17 years after Kamui´s appearance in The Silver Case investigation, his return is inbound.
While the general synopsis sounds pretty familiar with Kamui being the central figure of the whole plot, The 25th Ward The Silver Case does a far better job of presenting it. One of my biggest complaints where the fact how most of the plot was so buried beneath a thick layer of cryptic hints, time jumps and more. To this day I don´t even know what happened most of the time, only able to grab a few key events and forge a somewhat coherent story with them. Now, most of those bizarre writing is gone, exchanged for a more straightforward, which can actually be followed.
Everything is able to stand on its own without relying on extensive knowledge about the “Kill the Past” universe or Suda51´s other creations. As a result, the underlying plot enters the spotlight, finally freed from all these restraints. The fact I understood the key twists, general plotline and alike shows just how much of an improvement this sequel is to its predecessor.
Speaking of which, The 25th Ward The Silver Case is a thrilling visual novel in every aspect. Focusing on the dystopian 25th Ward, promising absolute happiness for its citizens, the base atmosphere is a mix of dystopian cyber punk and utopia. Through the three parts, each written by a different person, the general themes and writing changes completely. If not for the overspanning story, they could even be seen as own games with their own message and own goal.
Seeing it all play out in a far better fashion than before finally makes one able to appreciate just how captivating the general idea can be. Similar to the Monogatari series, dialogues about basically nothing can entertain for minutes before shifting to entirely different, darker themes. Everything feels coherent during those separated sections like the authors finally had a goal to achieve and not just wrote their way into oblivion. Kamui, the Wards and the dystopian universe are still unique up to this day, making it an easy recommendation for genre fans alone. Yet, there´s just so much more in form of Kamui, Suda51´s influential, weird writing and the dozens of ideas plastered all over it.
Those improvements can also be seen in the gameplay sections, which continue existing as well for better or worse. From time to time The 25th Ward The Silver Case presents us with 3D environments, where we have to navigate through or solve little riddles. Even though the horribly clunky point´n click camera movements were abandoned and the game now tells you where each option leads you, the core design remains old. Most puzzles circle around remembering number strings, backtrack or walk for minutes to end up with a bizarre challenge. Nothing about the gameplay sections really feels well-executed, be it the dice like the interface or complicated controls, rendering the weakest part, sadly locking a whole lot of great story behind them.
Especially because the 3D graphics look far better, despite their mobile origin, seeing those problems untouched is a problem. On the other hand, The 25th Ward The Silver Case carries over everything unique to the series, every case is once again underlined by an own visual background, colour focus and portrayed in breath-takingly great artworks. There´s so much that both cries The Silver Case and Suda51 at the same time, combined with the interesting soundtrack, it´s not a visual novel anyone could forget.
The 25th Ward The Silver Case does nearly everything better than its predecessor. Forging both Suda51´s weirdness together with a diverse mix of stories from different writers and a way sleeker storytelling, creates the dystopian, dark adventure the original Silver Case should´ve been. If not for the clunky gameplay segments, there´s no reason to skip this unique treat.
[A Review Code was provided by NIS America]