I’ve always been a fan of watching shows like “CSI” and “Law & Order.” I enjoy putting the pieces together to find a “without a doubt” suspect for a crime that was committed. However, usually the person I think is guilty is actually innocent, so maybe I should stay away from perusing a career in that field. Good thing Aksys Games published Chase: Cold Case Investigations ~Distant Memories~ as it aims to put players in the minds of investigators to solve closed cases.
The story begins with a tip that leads two investigators, Shounosuke Nanase and Koto Amekura, to look into an incident that happened five years ago involving an explosion in a hospital. At first, it’s tough to think that this could be anything more than an accident, but the game presents clues to the detectives that proves otherwise.
The characters seem to play well off of one another; Nanase is a laid-back veteran type who can’t be bothered with anything and Amekura is a new recruit who is trying very hard to stand out in the precinct. Both of their interactions are typical veteran cop versus newbie on the force, but this type of relationship works for them as they both seem to learn new things from each other as the story goes on.
The dialog will play out mostly through the narrative of Nanase as he pieces the investigation together and slowly catches Amekura up to speed. She doesn’t come off as totally useless, but it’s clear she has a lot to learn about being a detective. Mechanically, the game hosts short point-and-click sections and a choice system to keep the game from being kinetic. Whether you miss a right answer or not, the game stays linear over the two hour story.
There are some elements introduced in Chase: Cold Case Investigations ~Distant Memories~ that never come up again, such as entering the mind of detective Nanase and flipping cards over to metaphorically shuffle through the clues. As interesting as this scene was, it never made a return which was disappointing to say the least. More focus was given to the interrogation scenes which were unique in their own way, but didn’t offer the change of pace that the mind of Nanase brought.
Both detectives have very interesting back stories that are left unexplored. Without the small clues they give that there is something more to them, both characters are pretty much cut and paste typical detectives. One of these unexplored stories involves detective Nanase as he clearly has some demons that he’s dealing with from a tragic past. However, Chase: Cold Case Investigations ~Distant Memories~ doesn’t bother to go much deeper than a few mentions of it.
Players will need make choices when asked to find a clue or interrogate a suspect. Most of the time if you’re following the story these scenes are pretty easy to get through. With that said, there’s little to no consequences for choosing the wrong answer other than being scolded by Amekura and asked to try again. Sometimes the responses that are available are pretty much no-brainers — for instance, being asked to remember the person you’re investigating’s name and given two choices (one being Detective Nansese’s name).
The animations that play during dialogue scenes gives life to Chase: Cold Case Investigations ~Distant Memories~’s interesting cast by showing their personalities and emotions expressed in every scene. This is rare for a visual novels when they typically only use a few illustrations to express a character’s mood. The feeling of tension that the character animations adds to the room during an interrogation kept me wanting to read their facial expressions and figure out who is withholding information.
I really enjoyed Chase: Cold Case Investigations ~Distant Memories~ as it brought a short and interesting game to the hands of someone like me who can’t always find the time to sit back and read a 40 hour visual novel. The characters and animations were very well thought out and the ending is definitely something that was unexpected. However, the unexplained back stories were disappointing as it would have made the characters stand out among stereotypical detectives. I hope to be a part of more stories staring detectives Nanase and Amekura in the future because just one case wasn’t enough for me.