- Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
- Publisher: NIS America
- Release Date: 09/07/2021
- Price: £35.99 / $39.99
- Review code provided by NIS America
Introducing: The Silver Case 2425 Review
One thing I wasn’t initially aware of was that The Silver Case 2425 actually comprises two games – The Silver Case, originally released in 1998, and The Silver Case: 25th Ward, originally released in 2005. As a huge fan of the murder mystery and detective genre, this actually made me even more excited to play and see how well these titles have held up after all these years. Join me, investigator’s hat in hand, as I dive into this classic noir mystery and review The Silver Case 2425!
(Please note: The Silver Case 2425 contains a lot of strong language and unpleasant situations/imagery, so some players may find content upsetting or offensive.)
Into the Belly of the Beast
As previously mentioned, The Silver Case 2425 consists of both The Silver Case and The Silver Case: The 25th Ward. Both revolve around the dystopian wards of modern-day Japan, in which a series of grisly murders have occurred. A number of hard-boiled detectives and other gruff characters accompany the various protagonists on their investigations: the protagonist changes based on both the game and the sub-scenario, sometimes being the silent survivor of the Republic tragedy, or even a completely unrelated detective.
There’s an overarching story in The Silver Case 2425 that worms its way through the core of each chapter, the connection sometimes obvious and other times completely obscure. Kamui Uehara, the games’ main antagonist, will leave genuine chills down the spine of any ordinary human, no matter how accustomed you think you are to murder stories. Grisly details are strewn in like sweets in an old lady’s handbag, with swearing even more common, so this is not a game for the faint of heart.
In all honesty, I spent a lot of my play time just thinking, “Am I missing something here?” As I tried to put together the pieces of what was going on. Surprisingly, this didn’t become frustrating, but was instead engrossing and interesting, drawing me in more from minute to minute. It’s a little convoluted, sure, but dang if it didn’t feel satisfying every time something was resolved. A blend of reality and imagination kept me questioning what was real and what wasn’t, keeping my brain on its toes the whole way through and leaving me pretty worn out afterwards!
A Case of Controls
At its heart, The Silver Case 2425 is a point-and-click visual novel along the lines of the original Ace Attorney games. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the original The Silver Case had in fact inspired the Ace Attorney series, despite being much darker and grittier. The majority of play time, which I found to be around 1.5-2 hours per chapter, is spent in classic visual novel fashion – reading conversations. If you aren’t a fan of text in video games, I really wouldn’t recommend this one. If you’re still with me, on to the control system!
While The Silver Case and The Silver Case: The 25th Ward do have slightly different control systems, the core principles are the same. To break up the visual novel sections, there is a fair amount of environmental navigation and a few puzzles to tackle. In the bottom-right corner of the screen is a small control panel, from which a variety of actions can be selected. The common controls here are Move, Contact/Eye (which any normal person would refer to as Observe or Interact), and Implement/Item, all of which have to be selected within the panel before any action can occur.
I found the navigation to be unnecessarily complicated and drawn-out, but suspect that’s a case of the games showing their age when it comes to design. The Silver Case was certainly the worst example of this, as navigating around scenes required moving between set locations and only being able to move to an adjacent location, whereas The 25th Ward was more a case of moving between named locations such as Hallway and Room. Moving around definitely took some getting used to, but admittedly did feel pretty smooth after a while despite taking an unnecessary amount of inputs.
The Seedy Underground
I’m very conflicted regarding the art style of The Silver Case 2425. On one hand, the quirky neo-noir style added a real depth to the atmospheric creep factor, and felt like a perfect fit for the tone of the game. On the other, the animated backgrounds were absolutely nauseating at times, especially during text-heavy sections, as trying to read an animated text box placed within an animated interface was very confusing to the eye. The remade graphics held up pretty well, but some of the cinematic sequences were grainy or jerky, so it would’ve been nice to see them get a full overhaul rather than the ported version.
The tempo of the soundtracks was, unfortunately, a little off-base more often than not. The bass-heavy audio had me bopping my head more often than not, and wouldn’t have been out of place in an edgy 90’s club, but sometimes ended up as more of a distraction from the grisly truth I was trying to read. There was just something about it that broke my concentration, which isn’t ideal in a visual novel that already has a huge amount of slightly-awkward-to-read font. I did like the music, it just wasn’t a good fit for the game at times.
I didn’t notice many performance issues, or input lag, but during cinematic scenes and transitions there were occasional jumps and stutters on the screen. Thankfully, they were never enough to really interrupt the game, but I’d have preferred a simpler interface without the animations as a way to reduce the strain on the system.
Elementary, Mr Dear Watson
The Silver Case 2425 isn’t hard, exactly. Like any visual novel, there’s a lot of consequence anticipation and requirement for immersion, which I found the hardest part. The puzzles, however, I really liked. I love a good logical puzzle, and quickly took to keeping a notepad nearby so I could note down solutions or rules that I might need. Admittedly, I was sold on the puzzles from the first Caesar cypher I encountered, so the fact that I found the puzzle elements the most enjoyable part of the game doesn’t come as a surprise.
Hints are available, but it doesn’t take too much thought to figure out the core of each puzzle, keeping things moving nicely without being stuck for ages on one section. The only annoyingly difficult parts, for me, were the hyper-specific sequences required to achieve something. For example, during one section I had to look over an area, then talk to someone, then look over the area again, then talk to someone again, before the “Move” option became available. I like a little backtracking, as it can prevent missed clues and the like, but at times the progression requirements just felt a bit too drawn out and obscure. If you’ve ever played a game and said to yourself, “How on Earth does that solution make sense for this puzzle?” or, “I have no idea what item I need here, there’s nothing logical, I’ll just have to try everything.” Then you’ll know the feeling.
Case In Point
The Silver Case 2425 is a very niche game, especially in 2021 when this sort of intensely narrative experience isn’t so common. I’d call it a Marmite game – you’ll either love it or hate it. Personally, I loved the experience as a whole, but think this hidden gem could have really benefited from a proper remake, with completely overhauled controls and much-tweaked graphics (the screen felt overwhelmingly crowded at times) to bring it up to a more modern equivalent. There are so many hours you could sink into this, varying greatly based on personal reading and solving speeds, that some quality-of-life updates would be an excellent idea. However, if you can bear with the obvious showing of its age and the kind of slow start, The Silver Case 2425 will be a disturbingly thrilling adventure into a world of madness.
- Engrossing storyline
- Some wonderfully logical puzzles
- The neo-noir graphics really set the tone of the experience
- A lot of unnecessary control inputs
- Sound design ended up as more of a distraction than an enhancement