The Silver Case was the first game that Grasshopper Manufacture made, in fact, the company was formed in 1998 while developing the game. Unfortunately, Suda 51’s first game never made it to America’s shores, he feared that there would be problems porting over the story and some of the language based puzzles and he didn’t want to take the chance. The title received rave reviews for the PlayStation in Japan, but it wasn’t until Killer 7 was released on Nintendo’s GameCube that Americans finally got a chance to meet Suda 51. I’m yet to complete Killer 7 due to the funky controls it has, but I have played entirely through Lollipop Chainsaw, Killer is Dead and Shadows of the Damned. Both of those titles were amazingly fun and makes me hope that Suda 51 and Shinji Mikami will get back together for another tale starring Garcia Hotspur.
I’m going to be honest with you, the story of this game is hard to follow due to the fact that with each case you encounter, more story and meaning is revealed. Most mystery novels and movies do that too, but Suda somehow keeps you in suspense and mystery all the way through. The game takes place in 1999 and there are a series of brash murders that mimic those of a murderer from the 70’s. This murderer, Kamui Uehara, is currently in a mental hospital so he cannot be the culprit, or can he? You play as a member of the HMD (High-degree Murder Division) and are part of the first team to apprehend the suspect. You are the only survivor and stuck in a catatonic state, that doesn’t stop other detectives from carting you around during their investigations in hopes something sparks in you. This is how you see what happens when you really shouldn’t, they should have left you in the hospital, but once a cop, always a cop.
Everything about the art-style and music in-game has me in love. Going minimalist with the cut-scene and action scene scenarios really adds a level of stress to the game. You never know when something terrible is about to happen and they catch you off guard when they do. I love the comic book style panels on the screen that fade in and out, what I hated during the game was the fact that there are always flashing words or saying in the background. This kept pulling me out of the dialogue and I kept trying to see if there was a hint or clue in the random words, there never were. The music is top notch too, it is the kind of score that I could have following me around throughout my day, even though it may make my days pretty weird. For those who think this is a huge action bash type of Suda 51 game, you will be disappointed. This is basically a point-and-click visual novel, it won’t be the action or gameplay that brings you into this title, it will be engaging and confusing as all hell story. Stick with it to the end and all will become clear, had I given up I would have wondered until I beat the game.
The absolute worst part of this game for me at the beginning was the control scheme. The game tried its best to direct me on what to do and how to do it, but I kept failing and getting more and more frustrated. I took a day off from the game and tried again, that’s when it all seemed to click for me. Every interaction and movement is controlled by a circle that you control in the bottom right of your screen. You spin this circle with the directional buttons and each of the four letters allows you to do something during the game. If you need to move around the environment you press X on “M” then you can move around to certain nodes using the directional pad. When you scroll to “C” that is when you interact with objects, like opening doors or figuring out passcodes. “I” is for using tools and interacting with those tools when prompted to. Finally “S” is the menu area that allows you to save, load and the like. When you are looking for points of interest you can also use R1 to look up and R2 to look down, this helps you immensely when trying to finish a case. There isn’t a lot of interaction in this world, when you move around the area you are on rails and only stop on points of interest, which helps you proceed sometimes, but never forget to look up.
At first, I was severely disappointed in this game, I couldn’t get past the first room and was insanely raging out. Thankfully I gave it another shot, I may not have if I wasn’t reviewing it. After calming down and finally figuring how the game actually played I began to fly through the cases. I know that when gamers see Suda 51 they expect buxom women and lots of sword-play; this isn’t the case with The Silver Case. Instead, you are greeted with a very long visual novel that only Suda 51 could write, and you will love every minute of it. I did get tired of reading now and then since this a very text heavy game, but I really wanted to see what happened next. I know that Suda is working on another No More Heroes title, but I would love another visual novel like this, perhaps on the 3DS or the Switch. This game is a masterpiece and Agatha Christie would love to play this game.
The Silver Case
- The murder mystery angle is great
- This game is classic Suda 51
- I love the comic book type visuals
- Controls are hard to get use to, but after an hour or so you'll be a pro
- Story is hard to follow
- Lots happens on the screen and sometimes you lose who is speaking and who is listening