- Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
- Publisher: NIS America
- Genre: Visual Novel
- Release Date: 13/3/18
- Reviewed on: PS4 Pro on 4k Samsung TV
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
The 25th Ward: The Silver Case is a visual novel adventure game, where players read through story segments before issuing commands that advance the story. The original version released for mobile used number inputs, so as you can see the game has a very simple design.
You know, if ever there was a developer who is overrated, then SUDA51, the lead writer and brains behind this game is top of the list. I get that visual novels are for a niche market, but this game is poor in so many areas and just by adding SUDA 51 doesn’t make it better.
Starting with the presentation of the game, it’s poor. The graphics are something even a PS2 could handle with ease, as the background pictures are bland beyond belief, the close up of the characters faces when they speak, boring, and the overall quality of the graphics so sub par.
To be fair visual novels aren’t about the graphics, but even so, i’ve played many visual novel games and all of them at least try to make the visuals pretty one way or another. I do also get that the aesthetic of the visuals may in part reflect the setting of the game, but even so, it still is poor, bland, nothingness.
The audio is slightly better with a pretty decent soundtrack, but for all the good bits of the audio may have is overshadowed by the horrendous and grating noise that happens every time the text appears. Each letter for the text is delivered with an electronic sounding typewriter clatter, that grated within the first five minutes, but drove me to distraction to stop playing the game a couple of hours in.
Bad graphics and audio aside, to be honest for a visual novel, you could just turn the sound of your tv down and read the text as it’s all about the story really. Well again the 25th Ward falls short.
For a visual novel to work, you need to be invested in the characters, understand what’s going on, and be pulled through the narrative with excellent writing. Well you guessed it, none of the above applied here. After an hour i still had no idea who i was even playing as, what was really going on apart from there was a murder i seemed to be laboriously trying to investigate. I say I was trying to solve but I couldn’t even really get to grips with who i was supposed to be playing as?. The narrative is on the lengthy side, is very adult in its nature, but i felt was far too cliche. In short i felt the story, which the premise is actually a good idea, was a mess. It doesn’t help that you chop and change between characters and scenes that don’t link between them at all so you just felt confused for most of the time.
Finally the system has an archaic method to get around the world. You have to issue commands on a very basic screen to move left / forward etc, or use items to open doors, or instigate conversations. It’s not fluid at all and just hinders the gameplay and frankly is not necessary. A simple linear story sequence would have been much better.
Thank goodness we were given a review copy as paying the current price of £30 for this mess of a game, is criminal. Only SUDA51 hardcore fans will stick with this. The story does unravel to be pretty good in the end, but the experience of getting there was painful.
The game, to be frank is nothing more glamorous than a 1980’s text adventure from the ZX Spectrum days of old. Those old games , like “Quest” and “Tir Na Nog” had more heart and soul in them, than this boring affair 30 years later
There are much better, more interesting, better presented and better stories in visual novels out there, so look elsewhere for your fix.