The Silver Case is the first game ever developed by Grasshopper Manufacture, written and directed by Suda51 for the original PlayStation in 1999. A text-heavy adventure game, it follows the detectives of the fictional city of "Ward 24" in Japan as they hunt down Kamui Uehara, a serial killer who has murdered various political figures before, but was caught long ago by one of the detectives. Highly experimental, The Silver Case makes use of as many visual mediums as possible, such as live-action, 3D environments, 2D stills and anime. The game alternates chapters between two storylines: Transmitter, which focuses on the detectives of the Heinous Crimes Unit; and Placebo, which focuses on a freelance reporter.
While a Cult Classic in Japan that stands proudly among Suda's other dark, psychological early works, it did not make it overseas for the longest time. After years of trying (and one failed attempt to port it to the Nintendo DS), Suda finally got a chance to get it localized with a faithful multi-language PC remake released in October 2016, and a PS4 port in April 2017. You can watch the promotional video here.
Following some patches, the remake contains two new chapters that serve as Sequel Hooks. Said sequel, The 25th Ward: The Silver Case, was announced in mid 2017 for release in 2018
The Silver Case has examples of the following tropes:
- All There in the Manual: Lots of plot details are shown in the manual's character chart, including characters' full names, the structure of the police and security departments, and even some characters who don't actually appear anywhere in the game.
- And Now for Someone Completely Different: The "Placebo" storyline puts you in the shoes of the reporter Tokio Morishima, following the events from the "Transmitter" storyline from the outside.
- Arc Words: "Kill the Past".
- Ambiguous Situation: There are quite a few plot points about which it is never clarified if they are literal or not. Particularly the idea of "transmittable crime"/crime virus - is there really a disease causing people to commit crime, or are the characters just talking about how crime can induce imitators and inspire hysteria? Similarly, when they say that Nezu controls the city like a video game, does that mean he just has access to high-level infrastructure, or is Ward 24 partially a simulation? Also an example of Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane.
- Art Shift/Medium Blending: As mentioned above, several visual styles and techniques are used throughout the game. The interface used to show these pieces of media to the player is called the "Film Window", which takes advantage of the developer's limited resources at the time.
- Spectrum has light outlining around its 3D objects.
- Parade is Deliberately Monochrome and makes a heavier use of anime cutscenes. In the original game, the art cuts resembles the anime cutscenes; in the 2016 version, it's closer to the usual style but with very high-contrast shadows.
- The Placebo reports' portraits and art cuts are in an entirely different style because the chapters are played from another characters' perspective.
- Whiteout prologue is entirely in the style of the game it's a Sequel Hook to, The 25th Ward.
- Big Bad: Kamui Uehara is set up as this. This is subverted pretty quickly when it's shown that, at least currently, he's in no state to be doing much of anything.
- Breather Episode: Case #2: "Spectrum". Even though it deals with murder and suicide, you arrive on the scene after it happens, most of its content involves you hanging out with a little boy, and it takes place in a peaceful apartment building during the day. There's also a lot of jokes and pop culture references.
- Brown Note: In Ward 24, crimes can be "transmitted" like a virus, usually by being near an infected person. Maybe.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Kusabi is the greatest offender of this.
- Cyberpunk: Downplayed, but definitely present, especially in the Kamuidrome case.
- Dénouement Episode: Tamura, although there are actually two post-climax chapters, and four as of 2017.
- Elites Are More Glamorous: Republic aka the Special Security Unit, the Administration Inspection Office's anti-crime/terrorist unit. It doesn't do them good since Kamui almost wiped them out.
- Establishing Character Moment: The report about Kamui Uehara escaping IMM Hospital. He murdered his counselor with what is described as "a customized harpoon gun". When a team of four 24 Wards Republic operators try to apprehend him in "Operation Secure Kamui", Kamui kills two of the them and leaves the other two in critical condition. Kamui gouged the murdered officers' eyes out while being hunted down, by the way. This is a big subversion, though, as it wasn't actually Kamui; the real one's establishing character moment is when you find him tied up in a closet.
- Episode 0: The Beginning: Lunatics.
- First-Episode Spoiler: Kamui Uehara is an empty shell, incapable of committing murder and decidedly not the antagonist of the game.
- Five-Man Band: The main Heinous Crimes Unit detectives (minus Kiyoshi Morikawa).
- Fugitive Arc: In Lifecut, Kusabi and Morikawa are declared "kill on sight" by Nakategawa.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: "Transmitter" chapters are "cases"; "Placebo" chapters are "reports".
- Inciting Incident: "The Silver Case", named after Kamui's assassination of a government official and, later, 10 senior citizens.
- Jurisdiction Friction: Republic and Central both seem to have a very poor opinion of the HCU.
- Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy: Kamui is a tool used by a faction of a government/criminal conspiracy based around real estate ...as are some of the main cast.
- Psychological Thriller: One of Suda's darkest works.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Kusabi and Kodai. For example, when talking with an IMM Hospital employee:Kusabi: That dick just won't shut the fuck up!
Kodai: Well, it's sort of your fault. You were pretty rude to him...
- Red Shirt Army: Republic, sans the Player Character.
- Sequel Hook:
- The original ending ended up being an aversion; it ends with a To Be Continued...? message, but the last minute cliffhanger events that triggered it aren't explicitly brought up in future games at all. However...
- The updates given to the remastered version in 2017 added two new chapters which actually are real sequel hooks to Flower, Sun and Rain and The 25th Ward.
- Thematic Series: As mentioned above, this game is part of Suda's "Kill the Past" thematic series.
- This game is the first of Suda's games to explicitly use the very words of the series.
- One of the minor characters in The Silver Case use the phrase "flower, sun, and rain", which became the title of another game in the series. Both games are revealed to share the very same universe in the second one - mainly, since the Flower protagonist Sumio Mondo is a clone of Silver's detective Sumio Kodai.
- Tomato Surprise: The player character, along with many others, is a human raised to become "Kamui" if the need ever arises.
- Two Lines, No Waiting: The seemingly intended playing order of alternating between Transmitter cases and Placebo reports, although the player is free to choose their own order to an extent.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: "Operation: Secure Kamui" was Republic's attempt to…well, we'll let you finish that thought. Guess how it works out.
- Unusual Chapter Numbers: Transmitter. It starts at 0 and proceeds to 5 normally, but then goes to ! and then jumps to 25.
- Visual Novel: Of the sort that is technically an Adventure Game but has far more text than gameplay (like Danganronpa, for example). This is even more true in the Placebo reports, in which the only gameplay throughout the whole storyline is either checking e-mail or examining one of three other objects in your room.
- Wham Shot: An early one during "Decoyman", Sumio and the player discover none other than Kamui Uehara, tied up and gagged, and making no effort to resist.