The Silver Case is famed creator Suda 51’s first game and, along with its PC port release late last year, this is the first time it’s ever been playable in English. Was it worth the almost two decade wait? Yes, because The Silver Case is clever, alluring and exceedingly well-written — it’s not an ordinary journey, and it isn’t one that you’ll soon forget.
The Silver Case takes place in 1999, in a fictional city called “24 Wards” where recently murders have been occurring frequently in weird, bizarre ways. You follow detectives Sumio Kodai and Tetsugoro Kusabi, who work in the Heinous Crimes Unit, as they try to locate mass murderer Kamui Uehara who was recently hospitalised and thought to be harmless. One night when Kusabi is driving home, a murderer intercepts him whilst holding a decapitated head and tries to shoot him, and so he and the local precinct take chase. The character you play as is a part of this squad where you face your first real mission which just happens to be absolutely terrifying, and from there it’s hard to put The Silver Case down.
Another story, known as Placebo, runs parallel but focuses on freelance journalist Tokio Morishima who’s asked to cover the Kamui events. Progressing in the Transmission route unlocks more in the Placebo route, and both come together to fill in the blanks to reveal the overall plot. There are two new chapters which wrap things up and leave room for a proper sequel (there was one on mobile phones in Japan, and Suda 51 has been teasing this recently for a Western release) as there were complaints previously about the game lacking closure — this version really is the definitive version of the game.
Primarily a visual novel, The Silver Case is well-written and will leave you wanting more like it but alas, who knows if that’ll ever happen? What The Silver Case does differently is that, as a detective, you’re also able to walk around and inspect environments and objects. It can be a bit clumsy at first but once you’ve spent an hour or so with it, you’ll find yourself easily navigating with no issues at all. This can be quite nerve-wracking when you know something bad is going to happen — there was once a shadow from above, and I did not want to look at what it could be. Although, I had to in the end…
The Silver Case opts for more realistic portraits rather than anime ones, befitting of the games serious and gritty nature and boy does it look great! It frightened me at times, made me feel regularly uncomfortable at others and had a generally claustrophobic, intense atmosphere — some brief live-action scenes blend well into the realistic cases presented too. The work done to it in the remaster is welcomed and although some of the 3D sections are clearly dated, the artwork stands up strong and overall it’s still a stylish game you shouldn’t miss out on. There’s no voice-acting apart from some shrill screams and other ambient sounds, but the music is perfect for The Silver Case and I can see myself returning to the soundtrack time and time again. What I love most about the audio though is the typewriter/heavy keyboard sound used for when the text appears — it’s absolutely lovely.
I’m happy to have finally played The Silver Case and if you’re a visual novel fan or a fan of good stories then you should definitely give it a go — it’s an engaging experience from start to end, and it feeds you just enough information to keep you going without it feeling fruitless. Suda 51 has a knack for telling unique, strange stories and The Silver Case is his first, and not every developer gets to have such a stunning game as their first professional creation. The Silver Case might be slept on due to how niche it is, but it’ll go down as one of the rare, hidden gems available in gaming, and you’ll want to say that you’ve played it.