The Silver Case Remastered Review – Video Game History
Platform: PS4 (reviewed), PC
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: NIS America
Release: 18th April 2017 (PS4), 6th October 2016 (PC)
Price: 29.99 (PS4), 19.99 (PC)
Review Key provided by NIS America
Suda 51 is known as one of the craziest game designers to date, but not all of his games became as famous as Killer7. Let´s take a look at his first game, The Silver Case, is it rightful forgotten or worthy of the remastered?
The story revolves around the Heinous Crime Unit, a special Unit founded by the detective veterans who solved the Silver Case and captured the “famous” serial killer Kamui 20 years ago. Now, Kamui seems to have returned once again and its the job of the Heinous Crime Unit to solve the mystery around this legend. Yet, that´s not the only mystery that has to be solved, from a mysterious suicide to a kidnapping case, the Heinous Crimes Unit seems to get no breaks. We take the role of a silent new detective in this unit, observing and accompanying the cases and daily conversations.
Due to the different cases and stories The Silver Case is split up in TV-like episodes, each resembling one case. In addition, the Remastered-version on PS4 also offers two additional chapters, which serve as a transition to the next game or as a conclusion. During these different episodes you will observe the story through a very unique Visual Novel style. Instead of static character portraits behind a background, The Silver Case uses different panels for text, character portraits, little CGI movies and other pictures. Combined with occasional CGI and anime cutscenes, creates a very diverse and interesting way of story-telling, that I didn´t see till today. Especially the often changing panels and the created “flow” really let it stand out even to date. The fact that every episode has its own style or art direction, one chapter is completly in black´n white art for example, underline the sheer amount of creativity and strange ideas put into The Silver Case by Suda51.
Yet, the creative and unique presentation, as well as the episodic-like structure are the only things, that show the typical Suda51 style. While the stories are fairly standard nowadays, that only tell typical crime cases and sometimes mixed with Suda51´s “Kill the Past” theme. However, the characters on the other hand are simply unlikeable written. There is simply no reason to like the main cast, since they only consist of the same cliche-y old mans who hate their work, along with 2 younger detectives that at least have some development. Everything about the story or characters is so awfully standard or worse sometimes, it feels like the presentation overshadows the actual story.
The fact that the cases are often stretched with way too long dialogues between those unlikeable characters that result in nothing at the end, doesn´t help either. If you ask me, Suda didn´t really know what kind of games he wanted to make, resulting in a game that shows a lot of his characteristics presentation-wise but didn´t know which kind of world or setting he wanted to create, ending in a more realistic criminal story, instead of a crazy fantasy world. Unfortunately its diverse story-telling doesn´t necessarily help the game, to define its own style. When I think about The Silver Case I don´t remember a certain artstsyle or vision but more a huge amount of different ideas. It just can´t establish its own vision, since Suda somehow tried to implement all his ideas into his first game without really thinking about the game´s personality itself, as it seems.
So, last but not least, the praised “adventure areas”, in which you can walk in a 3D environment to solve puzzles or search the surroundings. Honestly, it doesn´t work and by far isn´t fun for me. What might sound great on paper quickly resulted in long, boring parts without defined goals. The game never really tells you what it wants from you in such passages, leading in either very short sequences or shockingly long searches for the right interaction point. Since you can only move to certain points, it´s a pretty old game after all, you will often find yourself walking the same ways back and forth if you want to solve a puzzle or need to run back to the beginning. Along with the old, slow and complicated controls these areas often annoyed me, without giving anything to the game. At least there´s a button to skip the puzzles, even tho this says a lot about the design.
The Silver Case is a complicated CASE (sorry) to judge. On one hand its a part of video game history, showing Suda51´s first steps in game design and that he always was a man full of strange but unique ideas, which all already manifested in here. On the other hand it fails at being a good stand-alone game, there´s no real vision, no unique world or story and certainly not good Gameplay here.
If you will enjoy The Silver Case is a very subjective question. If you love Suda51 and Visual Novels, like me, I´m sure you will enjoy it in some way or another, it still has a very Suda51-ish vibe in certain story moments and offers really interesting insights in his early steps, just don´t expect something like Killer7. However, its certainly not for everyone and defintely not a very good game nowadays, there are just too many flaws, too many uninspired characters and too many ideas squished into one little game.