Developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and Active Gaming Media Published by NIS America Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (Also available on PC via Steam or GoG)
The Silver Case is Suda51’s first original game and is finally available in English on the PlayStation 4. It’s a 3D point and click adventure with visual novel elements to guide you in solving crimes in a city called 24 Districts. You play as various detectives from the High-Degree Murder division and attempt to determine who is behind a string of bizarre murders in the city. There are two chapters that follow different protagonists in separate, yet linked, stories. This HD remaster includes the original game as well as two new scenarios that act as both an epilogue tale and a bridge to the mobile phone based sequel, Ward 25.
Owing to the fact that the original game was a PlayStation One visual novel, there was a lot of work required to bring the title up to speed and make the contents legible on modern televisions. A good portion of this involved redrawing textures in every room and putting it all in the Unity Engine, providing a smooth running 3D dungeon crawler-style system nearly identical to the original title. Art assets and UI were also given a visual facelift and improved with a better color palette, as the original title did have color restrictions due to the PS1’s hardware restrictions.
For the sake of preserving the original title’s unique quirks, the various sized 3D cutscenes, 90’s style FMVs, and punchy textboxes all are the same as the original The Silver Case release. At times the screen will be filled by a 2:5 panorama style shot of a car driving down a dark road while other times a vertical slice of the screen will be a snippet of a victim’s body. It’s an effect that doesn’t fill the whole screen but frames important content in a stylish way.
As far as the localization efforts go, The Silver Case is a mixed bag. As a byproduct of being a visual novel of the late 90s, there is a lot of text to read, a good portion of which is vital to the overarching story. At times, the text can feel almost overbearing, but the dialogue avoids direct transliteration and does what it can to convey context for the myriad of scenes and events happening on screen. It also used to successfully establish the rapport between teammates on the job and to help connect the dots between the two chapters. The central mystery is compelling but is sometimes buried beneath too much non-essential chatter. About 90% of the game is comprised of reading dialogue and will take you close to 10 hours to complete.
Owing to the original release’s compressed PS1 soundtrack, the HD port’s music was remixed by Silent Hill‘s composer Akira Yamaoka, providing a tense and foreboding tone to every scene and room. When the drama fills a scene with dread, the music perfectly captures the sweaty palms and gunsmoke feeling. My only real complaint is that the punchy tone of text filtering onto the screen is loud in comparison to all the other sounds in the game.
The Silver Case‘s HD Remaster is a time capsule of late 90’s Japanese games; it’s quirky, ambitious, and has a cult-like following. If you’re a fan of gritty murder mysteries or dungeon crawlers with puzzles, check out The Silver Case.