The Silver Case: A Grasshopper’s Beginning

With the upcoming No More Heroes coming I decided that I want to take a further look into Grasshoppers Manufacture’s games. Now I was already going to get the Silver Case already before this decision, it just took a long time for me to get it… Either way I have the Silver Case and I went for a limited copy of it too, which is probably the reason it took some time. So for those who do not know about the Silver Case, this was the first title that Suda 51 made with his company, Grasshopper. Now the Kill the Past series does go back a bit with Suda’s works at Human Entertainment. There is Twilight Syndrome 1 and 2, but the real start of Kill the Past mostly starts at Moonlight Syndrome. Literally the beginning of the Silver Case has the surviving characters from Moonlight Syndrome. The concept of “Kill the Past” means that the past needs to be killed. A character has experience a horrible incident and while they moved on, they end up going back to it to finally kill it off. As the title says I will be starting with the Silver Case since I have no ways of playing the Syndrome series. Either way we start out with Suda’s first look into the idea of crime.

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Suda has talked about his first look into the idea of crime. To be honest, future titles of his does go into this as well. Flower Sun and Rain brings up similar crime angles that Silver Case started and then Killer 7 and No More Heroes brings up assassins into the mix. So how did it all start? Suda has said that he wanted to look on how crime is born. Is it natural, does it come because of other events, or does something control it? The idea of crime has been done before like with the movie Scarface and no I am not referring to the one with Al Pacino, I am talking about the original film, but both are pretty nice films. Either way, the focus on crime is quite high in entertainment. I will say though considering this was game for the original Playstation it still feels quite original. One of the big perks is how Suda does his story telling, I will get further into it, but this man keeps finding ways to make his stories unique. I do not know how he did with the Syndrome series, but the Silver Case really has that style that made me find No More Heroes so entertaining. The crazy concepts being brought up quite early, the dialogue being strange and yet strong with strong sense of diction, and the general art style. This is before No More Heroes as the designs are a bit more toned down compared to other Grasshopper games. The art and character designs were done by Takashi Miyamoto and I adore his style. Takashi was a big fan of French art styles and he really brought that into a horror like style as well. He was also a fan of noir which really fits well with this type of story. His favorite types of stories heavily dark in tone stories so his work on the Silver Case feels quite natural.

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So with I mentioned so far The Silver Case is a noir styled drama with a mix of supernatural horror. It is easily a strange mixture for sure and that is how Grasshopper does things to this day. The motto “Punk’s not dead” simply means that Suda wants to make each work distinct. The company would rarely want the some product again and again. To this day the only franchise this company has is No More Heroes even though Suda wanted to continue Killer 7 and I found out that Silver Case does continue, but it was only on mobile in Japan so far as Suda says is The Silver Case still does well even today, he will release the sequel as well. So far both Silver Cases are the only visual novels the company has under their belt. I have been opening up to visual novels over the years thanks to Zero Escape and Ace Attorney. Now I will not lie the age of this title does show just like playing Ace Attorney in the past feels quite different from their titles on the 3DS. In the end though what brings people to visual novels are the stories and while Zero Escape and Ace Attorney are deep with puzzles, The Silver Case is quite lighter on that. This title is more like an interactive story. You do not have many options in what to do and change. You can waste time and that is all it is then. So reviewing this has a game is not that possible since it is just busy work. So if you are a Suda fan expecting gameplay from this title, you will be disappointed. If you can get around that though, I can highly recommend this title for Suda fans like myself because there are many beginnings here that someone like me loves to notice.

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The biggest aspect that is carried over from Suda’s works is that the story does have a rather interesting way of presenting itself. Suda is known for bringing art house quality to game and Silver Case was the start. It all starts out with your character on a job to take out a criminal, pretty simple. You start to find victims of the criminal and already the art came up to me as shocking. It was not the most grotesque art, but it really came off with this horror vibe and the soundtrack did great to build that up. When tracking down the criminal you start to do little puzzles that just require simple decryption with a machine you find. A majority of the said puzzles are basically busy work, but I had my fun time with them. I cannot really remember the last time I had a simple puzzle made me feel uncomfortable. The thug is taken down later on, but it was done by an officer that decides to call you Chinchilla, lovely. He starts to tell you and your allies why you are in the business and that is to clear this world of crime, shoot it until it has no face! The supernatural angle comes up as it appears crime can bring ghosts of criminals and yes it was the same one who was killed and you clearly get the big picture of what happened to this man. Crime in the Silver Case is like a virus and the officers need to stop it before it spreads. That is a majority of how The Silver Case feels, you will be going down one path and while the introduction had a big turn, the next couple of chapters have you figuring things out earlier on. The first case even starts the story off well thanks to the theming and what was introduced already, many elements from those moments come back into play later.

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After that case, you soon find yourself part of the Crime Division where you meet the usual cast of characters for the rest of this title. The man who called you Chinchilla is no other than Testugoro Kusabi, a man who got promoted to this division because of “The Silver Case” incident. His partner is a young man by the name of Sumio Kodai and while these two seem to be at each other’s throats, they are extremely great partners to each other. Sumio comes off as a potential main character, he just has a simple attitude that is inviting for people to be with. Sumio easily comes in as the best character because of what happens later on and he soon becomes a titular character of “Kill the Past” in general. We also got Morikawa an older gentleman just like Kusabi, but not as hot-headed. He does come off as arrogant though as his style of investigation is the best around. Chizuru is the cold and distant scientific one of the group as she is by the book. Kusabi hates her “ancient” style of work and later on Morikawa gets annoyed by her at one point. The overall cast of characters personally feel more alive than what some modern titles have brought. The dialogue can get a big dragged on and some lines really come out of nowhere, but that is usual how my conversations go. I talk a whole lot as you can probably tell by my writing style. I would even regularly be open how certain things with anyone, so to me the dialouge easily fits well. Even the characters can be a bit radical, but to me that is what gives them more distinct personality and what really puts them in a league of their own in terms of characters.

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There are many other characters too as the deeper you get into the Silver Case, more players start to reveal themselves later on. There is a side story section where you play as a reporter who got involved in a case. Ever since then he has been going further into this case. He does become a freelance reporter as he is paid to find information on the man named Kamui, a legendary criminal. These sections of the game are their own story and at the same time act as cliff notes for the general story. I feel this is needed because there are times where I am thinking about too many possibilities. The writing was done by different people other than Suda and while I do love how unfiltered Suda is with his writing because of how far it goes. I will not lie and say actually learning the story is needed as well. Not saying that you cannot get any details from the main story, I can just easily see some being confused on certain events. If you just focus on the dialogue, you can get rather lost, but again the art really pops out so I do not see how someone can ignore it. The art really speaks out on its own at many times which to be honest this is the first visual novel where I actually have that. Either way, Tokio is also a rather calm collected man who just happens to have a tad attitude problem. Being involved with a Kamui case though, I do not blame him as the information he starts to uncover would stress anyone out. Tokio’s sections are rather repetitive, but what really gets the suspense going is what new information is brought up in those sections. I highly recommend playing his section as they are unlocked, the two stories go back and forth with each other.

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Overall, The Silver Case is a strong beginning to how Suda 51 starts to bring his unique style of story to gaming. While the game is just a bunch of busy work, I only got tired around the end of the game. The title always has this constant vibe of uneasiness that I was not bothered by the busy work. Also for a man anticipating for what “Kill the Past” has I was excited to find many beginnings of aspects and sound effects that would be used later on in future titles. I will have another post about The Silver Case and that will be rather spoiler heavy as I will bring up, “Kill the Past.” For my initial thoughts on The Silver Case though, it was an artsy crime drama that feels of its own product as the look on crime is rather deep. What makes a criminal?

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