The 25th Ward: The Silver Case (Review)
After receiving a review code for The 25th Ward: The Silver Case, we’re here with something a bit unusual for us – a review of a PlayStation 4 game. (The 25th Ward is also available for the PC.) The 25th Ward is set five years after the events of The Silver Case, and while you don’t need to play The Silver Case first, doing so will give you a better appreciation for The 25th Ward. Originally released for phones back in 2005, The 25th Ward: The Silver Case has now been remade and released outside of Japan for the first time, and it’s one of the strangest games I’ve ever played.
In some ways, it resembles an adventure game, but it’s better to think of The 25th Ward as a visual novel with moments of gameplay. The gameplay is easily the weakest part. Aside from a few sections where you use a simple movement system to explore locations, it’s generally limited to a few easy password/code inputs and performing different interactions until the story proceeds. The bulk of the game is spent reading dialogue and other text-heavy segments.
The 25th Ward is told across three stories, each of which is divided into episodes. “Correctness” follows members of the Heinous Crimes Unit investigating strange murders and the transmission of criminal power, “Match Maker” follows the Regional Adjustment Bureau managing the 25th Ward from the shadows, and “Placebo” follows a journalist dealing with additional strange phenomena after his role in the first game. If any of that sounds confusing, it should. The 25th Ward doesn’t quite follow the rules of the real world, and it has a bizarre tone that takes a while to get used to.
You’ll want to pay close attention to everything that happens in The 25th Ward, and even then you won’t have all the answers. The story is dense and complex, and the tone wavers between bleak noir and absurd humor. It deals with mature themes and uncomfortable topics, painting a grim world where citizens might be “adjusted” (killed) for breaking minor rules and no one is ever quite safe, but it is also quite funny at times, both through black comedy and surreal situations. For example, one episode suddenly switches the gameplay to turn-based combat in an odd parody of RPGs. Surprisingly, this mix never feels too jarring, because it all blends together into the game’s bizarre world.
The three sets of characters all have their own goals, but their stories do intersect. As you get further in each of them, the pieces finally start to come together until you understand what happened… maybe. But even when the storytelling is at its weirdest (culminating in a truly off-the-wall ending sequence), it’s always interesting. The 25th Ward: The Silver Case is by no means a typical game, but if you love visual novels and don’t mind a bit of bland gameplay, it is a strange story well worth diving into.