The 25th Ward: The Silver Case (PlayStation 4) Review

By Colin Beauchamp 23.04.2018

Review for The 25th Ward: The Silver Case on PlayStation 4

The follow-up to iconic developer Suda51's The Silver Case has reappeared in the form of a full remake, titled The 25th Ward: The Silver Case. With new chapters, music, and assets, players outside of Japan will be able to experience the strange world contained within for the first time, as the original release was never localised (and even then, it was a mobile exclusive that has since shut down its services, making the remake the only way to play this now, full stop). You will be investigating odd occurrences while exploring the supposed utopia that is the game's setting, known as Ward 25. Is any of it worth experiencing, though?

To discern the bizarre happenings in The 25th Ward: The Silver Case, players will be going through three different story arcs, each with their own set of characters, mysteries, and plot twists. Each of these narratives is written by a different author (The Correctness arc being done by Goichi Suda, Matchmaker by Masahiro Yuki, and Placebo by Masahi Ooka) and can be played in whichever order you please, although most will likely start with the Correctness arc due to it being the first option on the episode selection menu.

Although the game is a visual novel at its core, it does include some elements of interactivity. You will be able to talk to other characters, observe environments, and so on, as well as even move around certain locations through a first-person perspective when allowed, although said movement is very restrictive. Unfortunately, these interactive elements don't quite mesh well, a large part of this being because of the interface. All of the menu options are attached to this dice-esque system that isn't so bad when it's only four options (and, therefore, four sides) at a time, but once the die has to get bigger to, say, input a password, it gets cumbersome trying to navigate roughly 30 sides.

Screenshot for The 25th Ward: The Silver Case on PlayStation 4

It doesn't help that the actions themselves represented on these dice are often misleading. The "Look" button is especially guilty of instances where it's not even used to look at anything, and in many cases ends up being a "Progress the plot" button instead. This isn't irritating on its own, but when the method of progressing is to hit the Look button three times in a row, it occasionally gets grating. If you have to hit the Look button to start and then end a conversation (isn't that what the Talk button is for, anyway?), hit the Look button again to start another conversation, and rinse and repeat, then the question comes up of what's even the point of requiring all this to be done in the first place? If anything, there likely would have been some benefit to making the game purely text without this level of interactivity at all, seeing as the majority of the puzzles end up being just as tedious; many of them are so easy and straight up give the solution beforehand that it has to be asked if these can be considered puzzles at all. Props to one segment of the game giving both a dedicated cigarette button and a dedicated turtle button, though.

Screenshot for The 25th Ward: The Silver Case on PlayStation 4

As initially off-putting as these gameplay issues may be, these flaws take up little time compared to the meat of the game, which is the story. Although each arc has a different style with unique themes, they all manage to be engaging thanks to their interesting characters and the intriguing plot devices that would only be possible in this world. Correctness is the weirdest arc of them all, and the one that leaves the most to think about. Its eeriness complements its uncanny plot, leading to an experience that is both confusing, yet extremely captivating. Even when it's hard to tell what's going on, Correctness makes for a memorable journey, and it could be easily argued that it's this unconventional form of storytelling that makes it as beautiful as it is.

The other two arcs are much more traditional and grounded with their method of storytelling, in comparison. Placebo is a huge highlight, filled with chilling moments and some of the best characters out of the whole cast. Nearly every moment of it is a joy, and by the end you will be left wanting more. The remaining arc, Matchmaker, is the weakest of the three, and doesn't quite live up to the level of excellence of Correctness and Placebo. Still engaging and well made, but the other arcs set such incredibly high standards that the remainder feels ever so slightly underwhelming. One thing that is consistent across all three arcs, however, is the quality of its characters, as almost all of them are deep or majorly flawed in a way that's usually endearing, relatable, and interesting all at the same time. There are many layers to a good number of these people, making it all the more enjoyable to decipher them and see how characters react when a new layer is revealed.

Screenshot for The 25th Ward: The Silver Case on PlayStation 4

Accompanying the fantastic stories are an atmospheric soundtrack and stellar visuals. The 2D artwork, in particular, is absolutely gorgeous, and is a treat to look at each time. The art style is so unique, and each piece of artwork is filled with tons of small touches that make it feel personal. The soundtrack also sets the tone well, while many tracks are still worth listening to on their own.

There's so much to say about the world of The 25th Ward: The Silver Case, but it's best to go in knowing as little as possible (although it is definitely recommended to have some knowledge of the previous game, since you are expected to already know certain plot points introduced there; the catch-up chapter present at the start of Placebo only helps so much). It's immensely satisfying to put the pieces of the bigger picture together when working through each arc, and noticing how details in one arc add some context for certain moments in another arc. All this insanity culminates in an absurd finale that deserves to be played firsthand; it's genuinely amazing.

Screenshot for The 25th Ward: The Silver Case on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

The 25th Ward: The Silver Case, while not for everyone, is still a unique visual novel experience that oozes creativity. Its gameplay elements do slightly bog it down, but the stylised writing, entertaining characters, and one of a kind story more than make up for it. It's a truly memorable adventure accompanied by wonderful music and artwork, all coming together to make something that visual novel fans should definitely look into. If okay with checking out something a bit different from what you are probably used to, then you are likely to have a great time going through the weird world of Ward 25 that nobody will be able to forget anytime soon.

Developer

Grasshopper Manufacture

Publisher

NIS America

Genre

Visual Novel

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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   

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