Chase: Cold Case Investigations – Distant Memories developed by Arc System Works and published by Aksys Games is intended to be a visual novel, and it achieves this purpose beautifully. The two main characters work in the cold case unit of a police headquarters and are rarely given the chance to participate in anything interesting. A cold case unit, which is the department that reopens old cases or cases whose trails have gone cold, is explained early on in the story, which quickly clears up any questions. Suddenly their department receives a phone call that claims a hospital explosion that took place five years ago and killed someone was no accident. In fact, the mysterious voice claims it was murder.
The game developers of Chase have grasped the concept of heart-wrenching emotions and uses this understanding to their advantage by preying upon their audience. The gloomy atmosphere and nior color scheme is befitting the sorrowful tone of the story. Players will see the world as Shounosuke Nanase sees it – as uninteresting. There is little in the universe that seems to excite him and within the short time span of the game, viewers will learn he is a troubled man. His junior, Koto Amekura, does her best to encourage Nanase but ends up missing bits of vital info that is easily seen by her senior. These two misfit detectives end up being presented as two sides of the same coin. They play upon each others’ strengths and weaknesses.
Aside from a brilliant narrative, the musical score ends up playing a large role in Distant Memories. Often during my experience of this mystery, I found my own heart following along to the soundtrack and felt it entangling as the story progressed. Although the story and music are exquisite for a short mystery, the interactions are limited. Aside from two tasks, there are no other choices to be made in Chase. There are choices of questions to pick from when interrogating suspects. And players will need to figure out details of the crime by tapping on a portion of a photograph that is presented to you by a character. The questions lack a real challenge for seasoned mystery solvers yet the narrative is what pushes the player into desiring more of the story. It is impressive to find that the writers were able to create a plot that uses empathy this strongly.
Chase: Cold Case Investigations – Distant Memories has all the makings of an engaging detective visual novel series. I can see plenty of potential and the possibility of it gaining popularity among mystery-game enthusiasts. As a stand-alone game, it lacks the feeling of completion and the ending is left completely open. Chase appears to be more of a chapter of a longer story and it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that it is merely the first episode of a series. If this is the case, then I am more than ready to wait for the next chapter.
A 3DS Code for Chase: Cold Case Investigations – Distant Memories was provided by Aksys Games for the purpose of this review