Mysterious “suicides” have been popping up all throughout the ward, with the police being told not to get involved. The Media is being silenced and a cover-up from the highest level of the government is emerging. Just another day in the 25th Ward.
Platform Reviewed: PS4
Platforms Available: PS4, PC
Developer: Grasshoper Manufacture
Publisher: NIS America
Release Date: March 13, 2018
This review is based on a copy provided by NIS America.
The 25th Ward is a Visual Novel in the styling of the iconic game designer, Suda51. Seen from the view of multiple characters, this game is all about deep-rooted conspiracies, killings, and in Suda51 fashion, assassins. For the most part, you play as the new guy within the Heinous Crimes Unit. Your team is responsible for taking cases that no other police force would dare get involved with. The recent string of suicides suggests that foul play is involved, but it’s not for certain yet. As your team gets closer to the truth, powerful forces will do everything they can to make sure you don’t make it out alive.
Gameplay and Features:
Gameplay consists of choosing actions on a multi-sided die. There are options for talking, looking, and using items. The final option, walking, allows the player to choose where he gets to move around to. By selecting the option box, you can control the camera to view a specific area. The novelty of this game wears off pretty fast. While there are a number of puzzle solving sequences, it usually just involves you getting the right number.
A big part of the game is remembering all sorts of number combinations. These can range from room numbers to codes, with some of the codes being viewable again from the items option. For the most part, information is passed through via conversation and it’s up to you to either memorize it or to write it down. There will be times when a number is brought up during these conversations and once the sequence starts, you begin to scratch your head trying to remember what that number was. If you are lucky, your companion may remind you of the details.
In later parts of the game, you will have the opportunity to take down assassins just how you would in an RPG title. You have the option to shoot, punch, or escape. The escape option doesn’t work by the way. There is no strategy here as it all involves just shooting and punching until you die or the enemy dies.
The Good and the Bad:
Most of the times, both the look and talk options are very similar. Even if you “looked” at something, it’s usually just another conversation with the people around you. You will try to exhaust your options before the story is allowed to advance. It’s fine for the most part, but having to read through the same lines after expecting something different can be annoying.
This game is all about the plot. It knows exactly when to slow down and at a moment’s notice, it throws you into the driver’s seat. The pacing is so well done that if by the end of a chapter you’re the least bit invested in the story, you’ll find yourself jumping right into the next. Not only that, but the characters are colorful and genuinely worth giving a damn.
The 2D art compliments the story in almost every way. The monochrome style sets the mood right. The dash of color here and there gives the game more life than you would expect. If only the same can be said about the 3D segments. There’s definitely a missed opportunity here as the developers could have added more to the details but instead, the 3D segments distract us from the story because of how much attention they draw.
There isn’t much interactivity to be found here as you’re mostly going along for a ride. You will go through a lot of long long stretches with little to do other than watching the story unfold. Eventually, the gameplay does slow down at times, but it’s clear that you are picking up this game for the story. If you are a fan of Suda51’s work, you may want this for your collection. This title has a similar feel to others like Killer7 and No More Heroes. You can also get this if you’re are a fan of Visual Novels with a good murder mystery with bits of puzzle solving added in for good measure. Just remember that this game is definitely not for everyone.
And with that, I give this game my rating of….