[Review] Chase: Cold Case Investigations ~Distant Memories~
Posted on October 13, 2016 by Jakob Vujovic(@jakovujo) in 3DS eShop, Reviews
System: 3DS (eShop)
Release date: October 13, 2016
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher Aksys Games
As the brief opening movie explains, a cold case is when the trail of evidence in a crime investigation has gone cold. Chase: Cold Case Investigations ~Distant Memories~, aside from having a mouthful of a title, is a visual novel following two detectives working in the Tokyo Police Department. The setup is that the case of a five year old murder deemed an accident is reopened after an anonymous phone call to the Cold Case Unit.
Cold Case Investigations is a spiritual sequel to the DS Hotel Dusk and Last Window series, two games from the now-defunct Cing. I missed this series the first time around so I can’t compare them on anything more substantial than the fact that the main character Shounosuke Nanase looks strikingly similar to the guy on the Hotel Dusk box on my shelf, waiting to be played.
This being a visual novel, most of your input is pressing “A” to advance the text. Sometimes you’re presented with a list of questions to ask a suspect, but your input here doesn’t really matter since it’s just selecting things one at a time off a list. Other times you’ll have to choose the correct answer in following the game’s crime-deducing logic (which I found easy to follow). This is just a right or wrong answer. Get it right and advance the story, get it wrong and you get scolded by your assistant and go back to pick the correct option. These kinds of player input sections are just there to make sure the player’s train of thought is consistent with the characters so it stays engaging.
There’s a very nice film noir feel to the game. Its scope is small with two locations: gloomy grey office, its walls covered in old case files complete with half-open window blinds, and an even grayer questioning room. The main character, a grizzled, impatient and cynical detective whose dialogue is punchy and punctual fits this setting perfectly. The presentation sticks to this film noir vibe faithfully, down to the way characters are written. The appeal isn’t so much the mystery, but the personalities of those involved, and their histories. Suspects feel like real people, for the limited time we’re given with them – and that time is very limited.
This game is short. We’re talking an hour and a half short. I’ll concede that it gets a lot done in that short time span, pacing is fast from beat to beat and it wastes no words getting to the point. While I enjoyed my hour and a half with it, its length is important to keep in mind. I’ve heard that this is the first episode of a larger story and I wouldn’t doubt it. Cold Case Investigations certainly feels episodic, if not for the pluralized title ‘investigations’ and the subtitle relevant to the single case at play, or the ending that leaves certain plot threads unwound. This is a strong opening case and I really hope to see more.
Chase: Cold Case Investigations ~Distant Memories~ is a solid first episode, resolving most of its mystery while still leaving some compelling threads loose. I appreciate its dedication in both writing and presentation to cling to a subdued film noir style. Just keep in mind that this takes less than two hours to complete, an appetizer to a larger meal.