Nobody makes games like Suda51 does. His creations are these bizarre, surreal, often deep complicated experiences that let you take a peek into his dark, comedic mind. The first game he ever made with Grasshopper Manufacture… is no different. The Silver Case is a visual crime novel that doesn’t give you much control over what happens. You click on things, you read long dialogue sequences and yet you can’t help but get sucked into its stories of violent crimes. It’s not for everyone. But here’s my thoughts on it.
1. World Building
As with most Suda51 games, The Silver Case has a complicated universe that may take a little while to get to grips with. There’s a lot of stuff going on, from politics, to philosophy, to new characters popping up every five minutes, all intricately connecting like one big spider web.
There always comes a point in his games when you say, OK, slow down a second- what was that? The CCO and TRO have teamed together to run the country. But then there’s another third party called the FSO that’s trying to stop them. Get to play as a character that you name yourself, although a lot of the time, the game just calls you “Big Dick”. You were “Chinchilla” for a while, but apparently, that wasn’t a good enough nickname, hence “Big Dick”.
You were at first a member of a Special Forces Unit but were hired into the Heinous Crimes Unit; a team dedicated to dealing with dangerous cases. A lot of the fun of this game comes from meeting up with all of the different characters that make up this team. They all have distinct personalities and plenty of flaws. Soon you start to learn about each individual’s dark history, which all contain their fair share of surprises.
And they’re not the most co-operative bunch either- they like nothing more than telling each other to fuck off. Seriously, the dialogue and some of the conversations they have, say, on a routine stakeout, turn in an instant from some random topic to a flurry of insults hurled at each other. It’s hilarious. But at the same time, the game knows when to switch gear and take things more seriously. After all, it deals with things like rape, torture, suicide, kidnapping, and death. Each of the 7 cases in the game deals with a new crime, but the thread that connects all of them is the ultimate serial killer himself, Uehara Kamui.
This is one of the best games I’ve ever played, where you basically only tap one button. Most of the game here is reading- scrolling through long conversations between different characters. No topic is off the table. From fairy tales about a giant serpent, to whether or not you can buy cigarettes in heaven, to the latest leaked footage that you bought of a local pop star undressing, strictly to help the investigation, of course.
Now a lot of this could be called fat that could be trimmed without affecting the story. But the problem with that is, it’s all interesting. It helps create this unique experience, and I don’t know whether it’s just because it’s been translated from Japanese or not, but it’s got a funny way of saying things. Certain mannerisms and certain ideas are just structured in an entertaining way. It makes for some great storytelling, full of twists and turns and gives you just enough info at just the right time, to keep you playing on to see where things go next. It’s got a slow pace, that may take a while to settle into; especially with every scene starting with the date, the year, the location, the time.
Occasionally you do take control, where you get to walk around in the first person and interact with items and occasionally solve the odd puzzle. But these sections are brief; the puzzles can often be skipped entirely by clicking on a magnifying glass to reveal the answer. You’re more like a passenger to the story, rather than the driver. There’s no decision making, no way of dying and you’ll always get the same outcome, each time you play. The game’s split into two sections, “Transmitter”, which was written by Suda51, and “Placebo”.
The transmitter is the bulk of the game, focusing on the Police, whereas Placebo is all about a freelance reporter called Morishima Tokio. His adventures are much more text-based and serve as a way of providing more details to the main story. They see him investigating the same cases, to provide a different perspective on the same timeline. The gameplay here quickly falls into a routine of waking up; having a smoke, talking to your pet turtle, and then checking your emails. It lets you dive into his lifestyle, where a lot of the days, nothing interesting happens.
But then that one email you send can change everything and suddenly you find yourself caught up in a life or death situation.
#3. Unique Style
Every case begins with an introduction that sets up;not only the crime that’s about to take place, but also the mood and the theme of the chapter ahead. And they all have a unique style and design to them. Some people may say that the sheer variety of styles, seems disjointed and as if they couldn’t decide what to settle on.
But I think it’s more a case of each different look, represents one of the many, many tones that the game is going for. As I said earlier, the game has happy, cartoonish moments. But more serious ones too, that may require something like a news report to convey them. The music is superb and incredibly catchy. Each area has its own theme, which is repeating so many times, in that very Japanese way, and yet, never gets old. Everything has some kind of creativity to it, from the backgrounds to the way that a chapter ends. Even things like Morishima writing an email, only to delete it before sending it, let’s us know what he’s thinking in an interesting way.
The Silver Case is a game that makes more sense on its second play through. Suddenly you have a better grasp of the world and so enjoy yourself more and have less head scratching. Plus things, fall more into place, once you know where things are going. But this is only half the story, because The Silver Case, has a sequel. So until then, thanks for reading.