Weird is a poor descriptive.
There are a few rules of Psychology you will learn when you start a degree. Rule one is to never self-diagnose (take note Tumblr) as introspecting too much is only going to cause problems and you are not an unbiased source for this kind of understanding. Rule 2 is that you are not allowed to diagnose someone who you have not met and not had a clinical session with.
Which is good for Suda51. Because this is just crazy.
The 25th Ward: The Silver Case is a western localisation of a remake of a Japanese-only mobile game released in a year I cannot find out for the life of me (assume around 2000 as the first one came out in 1999.) It bears all the usual Suda51 hallmarks of off-kilter comedy and dark storytelling but jacked up to 11 with steroids and Viagra. It happily plays out gruesome murder, weird fetishes and absurd puzzle solutions, and they all make relative sense in the environment. Why? Because if everything is crazy, nothing seems that mad.
Strap yourselves in.
The game is broken down into three ‘campaigns.’ Each campaigns revolves around members of the Police force in the titular 25th Ward. The ward is an experiment, making a society which has forgone the trappings of a bureaucratic government in favour of a community based government. The three stories work together, all revolving around gruesome crimes and which all somehow link to the first games, presumably dead, antagonist. It would have been understandable, given the age of the game, to also reuse content from each story in others to promote their relation to each other, however this is not the case and each is a twisting crazy adventure in its own rite.
And crazy is the name of the game here. There is a measure of teething required of the player to simply accept the insanity of things in this game which include but are not limited to: Common and crazy fetishes being discussed freely; free discussion of the afterlife as though they were discussing what to do after work; a suicide method which causes blood to boil and blow out the head; and a complaints box which involves far more shooting than necessary run by the postal service.
Tear off the lunacy and the game plays out like a typical visual novel adventure game. Controls are simple, with just contextual actions such as ‘look’ and ‘use.’ Nothing too difficult, but the simplicity means that you can focus down on the gathering of clues and solving of puzzles. It also allows the game to keep the controls hidden, letting you focus on the story art and immersing yourself in the experience.
But that immersion is not permanent. Beside a few grammatical errors in translation which can be mostly forgiven, the puzzles can be decidedly annoying and feel deliberately stretched to add faux-playtime to the experience. Most puzzles can be solved by one of two ways: exhausting all possible options or brute forcing your way through. The game does try, telling you to ‘read the flow’ in one of the puzzles but that flow has not translated across leaving what could be a really interesting puzzle as nothing more than an annoyance of choosing all choices.
The sound design is all over the place too. While most of the sound design is phenomenal, with a mix of jazz, punk, and electronica setting the scenes well; the text printing sound sounds recorded on a 90’s mobile phone and is shrill and annoying. It seems rather juxtaposed to how the other music sounds, and can be fixed just by dialling it down to be less shrill but it was an unwelcome surprise.
The Silver Case, besides being weird as hell, is a solid visual novel game. The story works well despite its division into three campaigns and if you can struggle through the puzzles you’ll find an enjoyable experience for any Suda51 fan. Just be prepared for crazy.
I don’t think you understand how crazy this game is.