The Silver Case (PC) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 21.11.2016 4

Review for The Silver Case on PC

Once upon a time, Grasshopper Manufacture made a game, one so obscure that it was deemed not worthy of being localised, and has, therefore, eluded Western audiences for 16 years. It was the first venture for Goichi Suda's company, and came in the form of a visual novel mystery for the original PlayStation. Now, in 2016, after the promise of its return dating way back to when Flower, Sun and Rain landed on Nintendo DS back in 2008, The Silver Case is here. Coming first in PC remastered format, with a PS4 edition due next year, the question now has to be whether or not such a lengthy wait was really worth it. After an early look at the title, Cubed3 now delivers the final verdict.

That indescribable and unique feeling Suda51 games have is rampant here. It feels like the beginning of No More Heroes or killer7 but more earnest and, yet, more confusing. The game focuses on a group of detectives trying to solve a group of cases. The first case is phoned-in by a normal cop who stumbles upon a person holding a decapitated head in the middle of the road, before they run off to a communications building. It then introduces the main cast, including a player-named main character that comes crashing into the scene in what looks like a police branded campervan. It's here that the gameplay starts.

The gameplay is simple and yet has one of the most bizarre and unfriendly interfaces on the planet. Without using an actual screenshot, the game layout consists of:

  • The 3D area - this is the 3D representation of the current level;
  • A wheel with letters, with M - for movement, S - for saving, C - make contact with a target, and I - interact or use (for example, firing a gun);
  • Character face portraits;
  • Text boxes;
  • A background that changes each level.
An unorthodox method of explaining the set-up there, but The Silver Case can indeed be so confusing that laying it out there for all to see is probably for the best, or else this review will go on forever!

Screenshot for The Silver Case on PC

Basically, what this all means is that there is a lot to take in right from the off. It proves to be quite jarring and the tutorial is a little cumbersome, almost like a dungeon crawler / visual novel hybrid with characters giving a silent running commentary of what the player is doing, especially when doing something wrong.

The interface aside, this provides a slightly muddled but overall enjoyable storyline with a twisting plot and some pleasing little distractions, which are needed since the script is by no means perfect, and occasionally even tries to make a point without ever really reaching a conclusion. The visual style chosen is attractive in some ways, yet also a little limited in others, but one major point that should be mentioned to those who like visual novel style affairs is that this - shock horror - isn't set in a high school! This is something that really reinforces The Silver Case as a rare entity in a genre that suffers from an oversaturation of tales of teenage angst in high school settings.

Screenshot for The Silver Case on PC

As with all Suda51 productions, this is definitely brimming with character, complete with a cool retro mix of 'ye olde' 2D character portraits and some polished 3D PlayStation-era visuals. It reeks of Suda-san's approach and does a pretty reasonable job of communicating the setting and atmosphere to those in control. By far the biggest issue visually, however, is just how much information is displayed at one time in the confusing interface area. It's a barrage of information that isn't always important, and seems to be a hangover from the PSone age when streamlining wasn't really the norm.

Making up for this is the fact there is the choice of using the original soundtrack, or the remastered music included, with the latter definitely sounding very good through modern speaker systems. Obviously the inclusion of some voice acting in the mix would have been great, too, but obviously not a deal breaker. It might have cleared up some of the harder to follow bits, however, even if it had only been available in Japanese. What does help is how there are plenty of alert tones throughout, indicating when a large event is taking place, from things like death through to solving a puzzle, and, as an extra little bonus, the sound used for puzzle solving is the same as found in No More Heroes.

Screenshot for The Silver Case on PC

Structurally speaking, everything plays out in a way that is rather reminiscent of the Phoenix Wright series, or even the recent Root Letter (although much more in-depth than that). It has scripted story moments punctuated with puzzles and searching through environments. As for the puzzles themselves, the design is usually pretty on point, but it can have a steep learning curve for anyone who isn't used to brainteasers in their adventures. The first one, for instance, involves decoding door locks using a computer terminal to figure out the words on the panels. It's pretty easy when compared with the one included in the original version of The Silver Case, yet it really helps set the game in motion, even though it's awkward again due to the movement interface.

It should be noted that the interface is acceptable after a period of acclimatisation. The main problem is the system's reluctance to stay on the same action rather than defaulting to a neutral position, preferring to remain on whatever action was last undertaken as that function moves to the top of the command circle, meaning it's easy to re-enter the save screen or move accidentally, instead of making contact with something, for example. A minor tweak is all that was required to make it so that the menu went to a central resting position after an action was taken, with in the actions themselves in fixed positions. Sadly, that was not meant to be…

Screenshot for The Silver Case on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Despite the cumbersome controls, weird unresolved stories, and confusing interface, The Silver Case provides a really intriguing and unique gaming experience that, once the mechanics are learned, is a joy to behold. Its enticing tale of murder, insanity, and more, really shines through via the interesting characters and beguiling narrative style. This remaster has brought the old cult classic to life and introduced Westerners to a real treat that looked like never coming to realisation. No visual novel library would be complete without The Silver Case in it.

Developer

Grasshopper Manufacture

Publisher

Grasshopper Manufacture

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Our member of the week

Rumour is that this coming to the Switch. I absolutely loved flower sun and rain on DS even if it was just as bizarre, so I'm tempted by this. All the more since it shares some characters apparently. I kinda remember reading in a wikia years ago that Sumio Mondo or one of his clones was in this game.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

RudyC3 said:
Rumour is that this coming to the Switch. I absolutely loved flower sun and rain on DS even if it was just as bizarre, so I'm tempted by this. All the more since it shares some characters apparently. I kinda remember reading in a wikia years ago that Sumio Mondo or one of his clones was in this game.

A switch port would be cool. Portableness makes games so much more accessible!

Yeah, Sumio is in this, I'm sure...but 'clone' rings a bell, Rudy, so maybe you're right there!

As for Switch, yes it's coming. Why else would Grasshopper Manufacture be listed on Nintendo's early list of partners during the initial announcement? Smilie

It's confirmed for PS4 next year, and Switch is hinted at in an interview I need to post soon, plus given what I just said about Grasshopper specifically added to the list of Switch supporters, it's a given.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses
Our member of the week

Adam Riley said:
Yeah, Sumio is in this, I'm sure...but 'clone' rings a bell, Rudy, so maybe you're right there!

Didn't I make a character profile for this XD? Or was it perhaps someone else?

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

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