A detective novel by the developers of Hotel Dusk and Last Window sounds promising. But how does it hold up with so many similar titles that are also available for 3DS?
The story of Distant Memories makes you a fly on the wall of an office where Shonosuke Nanase and Koto Amekura receive a mysterious phone call telling them that an explosion which occurred five years ago was not an accident. Seeing as lead investigator Shonosuke has nothing better to do than smoke cigarettes and call people "idiot", the pair decide to look into the case. Unfortunately, the entire case will take place in this office and the only characters you'll meet will be a few people that may or may not be pertinent to the case and don't really have any interesting qualities about them. The story becomes mildly curious but not enough that I actually wanted to continue playing at any point. I dreaded the boredom of pressing on the 3DS touch screen in order to advance conversations and stare at a few different angles of the same dull, empty room as the text scrolled across the screen.
As far as gameplay, this barely has any. Ninety percent of the time, you'll be reading and three times you'll be asked to tap on what looks like a blurry photo of a room, but don't tap in the wrong place or it's game over! Chase: Cold Case Investigations does reward you for reading and following the story, though. Sometimes, you'll be presented with 2 or more choices where you have to prove to a suspect that you know what's going on and finish a sentence or ask a relevant question. However, if you choose the wrong thing, you can get through almost the entire game without your lifeline depleting and Shonosuke will just call you a name and tell you to try again.
Seeing as Chase: Cold Case Investigations doesn't physically take you anywhere, the visuals don't really have much to work with. The character art is nicely done and it's neat how the characters blink and fidget while they talk. The office itself simply consists of a room with a desk, 2 chairs, a piece of paper and a lamp. It appears to be a prison cell, and the pair doesn't leave it for days. I was happy when there were a couple of new camera angles that may show a suspect typing on a computer or someone walking into the room because it broke up the monotony of staring at a desk or watching an interviewed character stare at you. At a couple of points, Shonosuke hallucinates in his sleep and it made me wish that I could interact with his hallucination to offer some kind of variety.
Distant Memories' only redeeming qualities feel like they were taken right out of a Phoenix Wright game. When Shonosuke starts interrogating a suspect, there's a quick flashy graphic that sets the mood. This is such a specific thing but seeing as it only took me just over an hour to complete and I didn't enjoy the experience, I only have small details to cling to if I want to call out any good features. The other thing is the well done music that reflects the emotions of the conversations taking place.
Chase: Cold Case Investigations - Distant Memories is a major disappointment. Having said that, I wasn't exactly expecting much with so many great visual novels being available right now. About the only person who I can see enjoying this is someone who is in love with similar titles from the same developers. For everyone else, I wouldn't recommend picking it up unless future episodes in the series completely change the way the story is told and the game is played.
- + Character art is well done
- + Music reflects the tone of each scene
- + Story isn't completely void of interest
- - Only about an hour long
- - Dull characters, setting and gameplay
- - You don't leave the same room for the entirety of the game