Chase: Cold Case Investigations -Distant Memories- Review

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Game Title: Chase Cold Case Investigations -Distant Memories-
Developer: Arc System Works, Aksys Games (Publisher)
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: 3DS
Download: 1,625 Blocks
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download

Solving murder cases in video games has gotten really interesting the past several years. Ace Attorney is obviously where a lot of people would turn for this. However, my first turning point would be Danganronpa. Having not played Ace Attorney outside of using him in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, I have little experience with the franchise. But, when it comes to solving murders, Danganronpa is my game.

Those are kind of niche, but also some of the most well-received crime solvers and trial simulation games in the handheld gaming world. Another crime solver came to the 3DS from Aksys Games as a smaller eShop title that is easy to overlook. I’m glad I didn’t, though, because I absolutely loved it.

Spiritual Successor to the likes of Hotel Dusk and Last Windows, here’s my review of eShop title, Chase: Cold Case Investigations – Distant Memories!

Story

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Chase revolves around two detectives working for the Tokyo Police Department. In a long phase of having nothing to do, they receive an anonymous tip about a 5-year-old accident case at a nearby hospital. Upon receiving a tip that the case was, in fact, murder, they begin an investigation to find the truth.

The story of Chase is good because it’s got charm. Tying the animated visuals with the way the two partners act towards each other and suspects just draws you in. After playing the game for a mere 20 minutes, I felt like I knew the duo for years, when I’d only been introduced 20 minutes prior. It’s got that comfortable, synced vibe between the two of them that really comes off as charming to the player.

The one thing I’ll mention is that there are a lot of questions unanswered. There are a bunch of scenes that show something that hints at being explained further along in the game, and the game wraps up before saying a word about it. You’re left with a lot more questions than answers, which is great for setting up possible sequels, but you should just make a note of that if you’re someone who doesn’t like things being open at the end.

Gameplay

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Chase is a visual novel adventure game with some light puzzle elements. For the majority of the game, you’ll be watching cutscenes play out as the daring duo investigate their case. Then, you’ll have some mild puzzle elements when you have to make dialogue choices and investigate a couple crime scenes. But, it’s mostly a visual novel.

Main progression basically goes in one fell swoop. There aren’t chapters that separate parts of the game, only scene changes. You go through dialogue, scene change, dialogue, scene change, etc until you reach the end of the game and figure out the case. There are also puzzles thrown in as well, but if you are expecting to see some fancy “Chapter 1: So It Begins” or “Chapter 2: The Mystery Deepens” title, you won’t see it here.

As I said above, you have puzzles as well as dialogue. As you learn more in the story, you’ll encounter sections where you’ll need to find key pieces of evidence in a crime scene (Imagine it like the investigation sequences in Danganronpa 1 and 2), and other sections where you’ll have dialogue choices. Now, there is margin for error in some of these sections. However, in a few of them, you get only one shot or you get a Game Over, requiring you to retry it to try and get it right.

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Especially towards the end, you have a “Tried” gauge on your screen for dialogue choices. Whenever you get an answer correct, you increase your tries gauge but every time you get an answer wrong, you lose one. Lose them all, and it’s Game Over, so it’s a big game of thinking and you’re figuring out the case just as much as the characters are. The finale has a ton of these in a row, so it’s important to pay attention.

These are balanced relatively well, but with a bigger focus on the plot. The story is the star of the game, so probably 80% of your time will be going through dialogue between the duo and their interviewees. The time it takes, however, can be short. If you’re a fast reader and have a good memory, you can beat the game in under 2 hours. If you’re not a fast reader, you’re looking more around 3-4 hours, maybe 5 if you’re an especially slow reader. TLDR? It’s a relatively short game. Considering it’s also a cheap game ($5.99 USD), that’s not such a big deal.

Controls

Controlling the game is pretty simple and entirely up to you. If you’re more of a stylus person, the entire game can be done with the touch screen. But, if you like buttons more (as I’m sure a lot of you handheld gamers do), you can use that as well. But, first, touch controls. Pretty simple. Tap the screen to progress dialogue. Tap options to choose said options, and tap areas on a crime scene to investigate that area.

With the buttons, you are mostly just using the A button to proceed through dialogue. The D-Pad can be used to cycle dialogue choices, and the final thing is that Y can be used to pull up all of the menus.

That’s one thing the game does not tell you. There’s a hidden menu in the game, where you can review files, see story logs and, most importantly, save your game. As far as the game’s intro is concerned, you can’t save your game and that’s the biggest thing that bugs me. I’d played over half the game before saving once because I didn’t think you –could- save. Then I accidentally hit the Y button and this magical menu popped up out of nowhere. Would’ve been nice to know that was there.

Presentation

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Visually, the game deserves credit. It’s not a super-fancy 3D visual game like Zero Time Dilemma, but it works its 2D artwork well. All of the scenes have animated renders and scenes, similar to moving renders in games like Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters or the Hyperdimension Neptunia games on the PS Vita. It also makes use of both screens, showing a large, tall portrait view extending from the top to the lower screen, and that’s something I really don’t see much anymore.

No other complaints here. Some people will notice that the game lacks voice-acting, but once you see the ending, you will soon realize that was done on purpose. Had there been voice acting, it would have ruined the ending.

 

Summary

Chase: Cold Case Investigations is a small crime puzzler that can really draw you in. While the lack of control explanation does bug me still, the amount of charm, characterization, and the intense finale, it’s really hard not to love it.

9/10

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