The Silver Case is a 16-year-old gaming artefact and loopy visual novel that also served as Goichi “Suda51” Suda’s first project with his then recently formed studio, Grasshopper Manufacture. It has taken the better part of two decades to make its way over to the west, but it’s finally here in the form of a localised and remastered edition.
It’s a visual novel with a dash of exploration and puzzle solving, focusing on a group of nihilistic detectives from the Heinous Crimes Unit. This set of eccentric officers attempt to solve a series of crimes, from murders to kidnappings, while a serial killer runs amok. Oddly, the serial killer's murderous exploits are seemingly infecting people. Insanity seems to have become contagious.
One moment, the game’s forcing you to sit through a long and mundane primer on the city’s police force, the next you’re hunting down kidnappers and serial killers, but with plenty of breaks for meandering discussions on investigative styles and philosophy. The Silver Case changes gears a lot. And though it’s not explained at all, there are two sets of chapters, Transmission and Placebo, following different protagonists in separate but inextricably linked stories. It can be hard to keep up.