I found the time to try out the demo for the PC remake of Suda51’s The Silver Case, which got me to look at a trend that seems to be increasing on PC these days — visual novels and Japanese adventure games. This has been going on for some time now, but I wonder if we’re starting to see a new phase this year and if Silver Case might lead to similar scenarios in the future.
I don’t really remember what started it, maybe it was Valve opening the content floodgates for Steam releases, but visual novels in English are becoming a pretty common thing on Steam and on PC in general. Maybe they’re not visible to most people, but going through the Steam discovery que every day brings a lot of these games to my eyes, both genuine Japanese visual novels and western games heavily inspired by them. I knew something was really going on when we finally started to get new English versions of games like Steins;Gate, Higurashi, and Clannad.
Those are pure visual novels though — eBooks with pictures in them distributed as video games essentially. One of the most shocking recent events has been the PC release of Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma — a much more high-profile Japanese adventure game, along with stuff like Danganronpa and Corpse Party. The release of the original D on GoodOldGames is another big sign I think. You’re even starting to see a few western indie games inspired by old Japanese home computer adventure games like VA-11 HALL-A and Read Online Memories.
Maybe the original DS was the first catalyst for these types of games appearing more frequently in English. Maybe it was the success of the Ace Attorney series along with other visual novels and adventure games that appeared on the DS. Games from Cing like Hotel Dusk and Another Code were just the most well-known, as there were a lot of other obscure DS adventure games like Time Hollow, Thereisa, or Suda51’s own Flower, Sun, and Rain. 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors was probably the crescendo of all that.
Silver Case is something else entirely though: a remake of a game that not only didn’t previously have an English version, it didn’t previously have a PC version.
What’s in the demo, which you can get on Steam and Playism, isn’t a whole lot, but I thought what was there was captivating. It’s a few visual novel scenes and a short 3D adventure game hinting at a murder mystery. What I mainly like about what I’ve seen of Silver Case is the art. The game is being remade in HD but the art retains a very 90’s anime feel. It hearkens back to that era of adventure games the same way VA-11 HALL-A and Read Online Memories attempt to. Maybe it’s Suda51’s style reminding me of Killer 7.
If it does well enough, it might open the door to a sizable world of obscure Japanese adventure games spread between platforms like PC, PlayStation, and others. I don’t know a whole lot about the 90’s visual novel market, but I’ve seen a big enough sliver of it to know there’s a potential treasure trove of games like Silver Case waiting to possibly be localized and ported.
Spike Chunsoft already has a poll to gauge consumer interest in localizing more games, and one of the options is the famous visual novel 428. What’s next? Forget me Not: Palette? Mizzurna Falls? Aconcagua? Policenauts?