25th Ward: The Silver Case Review

A common word, especially welcomed in the video game community, has always raised the eyebrows of the masses when put next to particularly old and outdated but legendary and nostalgic pieces of work. That word is the iconic “Remaster” because let’s face it, we have all consider and supported the idea of a remastered version of our favorite long-lost games but when put into retrospective, remasters are really just a little upgrade. Nothing really changes other than those smoother frame rates, slickest graphics and most notability, to me, the transition from edged to curved. You know? Those little things around the world that were edged and pointy when really they should’ve be curved…those were the days. However, even though these upgrades are nice and always welcomed in some regards, some of us would like to see a greater leap taken so where do you go past a remaster? A Remake.

An absolute gargantuan project to consider especially with those classic games that mean so much to people, these are a total strip and redesign of a game that hits the Goldilocks zone between the game having a completely different experience and the game still retaining that core heart that made it great. Put into perspective, if a remaster was a car getting a new paint job, the remake would be the whole car getting torn apart and made anew but still keeping the engine and the seats the same with maybe a little bit of polishing because too many memories were made whilst sat on the those seats and you don’t want that taken away.

This is where this game, The 25th Ward: The Silver Case, shines the most. Having not played the original game back in 2005 when I was 7 and didn’t have a phone, I was able to get my hands on it for the sake of this upcoming remake and it was what I expected, nothing blew me away and then I play the remake on PS4 and I would say my experience was better.

Granted, this game wasn’t a fond childhood memory for me obviously but seeing that development from a Vodafone 710 to a 49-inch Samsung Smart TV was beautiful and it was really well designed for that change. I liked how they compensated for the screen size. The actually narrative was told on smaller screen that’s not to the size of your TV and in the background is this cool holographic model and it still kept that feeling of a classic whilst looking new, I thought that was well done.

For those don’t know, the story is based 7 years after the first game in the series, The Silver Case and the story is split into three narratives titled “Correctness”, “Matchmaker” and “Placebo” that give different character perspectives and outlooks on crimes happening in the district known as “The 25th Ward”. What I like about this story most is the world. It’s one of those worlds that really looks like its own. I like its usage of colors or even lack thereof, a lot of the colors are the same throughout but with that comes that visual interpretation of control and indistinguishability that is portrayed in the society of the world.

In terms of characters, I would say they work well as an ensemble of personalities but as personalities on their own, there was nothing that gripped me. I liked how each character had a moment and originality but again, there was just nothing that made me attached. I guess that can be a hard with a text-based game but speaking of which, I have to talk about the dialogue. The problem that I see so often with dialogue and text-based games is that most of your audience aren’t actors and if you have even mediocre dialogue, it’s going to make for a very indifferent experience from what the creator intended. There was one female character, Shinko that just blasted out insults whenever she could and some of them were really weird to read. Also, there would be scenarios where an intense battle sequence would be happening and characters would be having a full-blown discussion during it. I swear one went on for like 5 minutes during this hallway fight sequence so those moments kind of took me out of the story a little but again, it is a very common problem in text-based games.

If a game is text-based, that requires a heavy reliance on sound. Sound has to be up there in the pros rather than the cons with this genre or else it could destroy the game. The 25th Ward fortunately had some excellent sound design. With the presentation of the text and the sound it used, at first, I thought it would be annoying but it actually ended up being a cool and satisfying sound to hear which is nice especially in relation to the text. The music as very, VERY retro detective and even though it didn’t immerse me into the atmosphere at all, it slightly did the opposite, the music was at least never bad or annoying and it was fluid and diverse which is always appreciated in my books.

Movement and gameplay is how you would expect it to be from a game that was made for mobile, very minimal and limited and I can totally get why that would be a make-it or break-it mechanic for a player, so if you’re not into strict left, right, forward, back movement then you just will not have fun playing the game. The only time you’ll be able to move diagonally is not even with the character, it’s with this pyramid of choices on whether to talk, look, move or view an item. In itself, that does look cool but it won’t change anything about your opinion if you hate limited movement.

To conclude, I would say if you’re into those classic mobile games or you were a fan of the original The 25th Ward, I would say this is definitely worth a purchase. It’s got an awesome noir style story and a cool world to explore (in your head and through dialogue). Where this game falls short on is the characters, you will not remember many, if not any of the to save your life which is disappointing because I did mostly have fun with this game but it was that aspect that did put me in a bored state at a few points during the game. If the genre or platform is not of interest to you, this won’t necessarily change your opinion on it but if you were ever meaning to try, this game is a good first step. On a technical level, it was mostly well done and on a remake level, it was very well development and reimagined for the genre and audience it is trying to target.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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