Years ago, Cing, developer of the beloved Hotel Dusk: Room 215, filed for bankruptcy. This marked the end for the indie studio, but their point-and-click adventure noir left such an impression on me that it will always be a favorite in my Nintendo DS library. However, the same cannot be said for Chase: Cold Case Investigations.
While Cing is gone, this is still a very obvious Taisuke Kanasaki game. The mood, tone, and atmosphere all move in the same direction of Hotel Dusk, but fall flat in almost every instance. Chase plays more like the shell of a great title, and while it may seem unfair to compare this short adventure to Dusk, players who are familiar with the former work of Cing will be hard pressed to ignore their legacy.
Chase begins on the scene of a deadly explosion set five years prior to the main story’s events. The circumstances surrounding the fire are a mystery, but the case is dismissed and goes cold. This leaves behind one unsolved murder, and a young man who can’t seem to move forward from the accident.
Detectives Shounosuke Nanase and Koto Amekura are charged with solving the crime after receiving a tip from an anonymous caller. For a crime solving duo, they make for a rather uninteresting pair. These two guide the story for the entire 90-minute adventure, and their characters are no different in the end from where they started
Given their taxing situation, their flat personalities seem a little robotic, especially in the case of Koto Amekura. While I briefly got some semblance of more than one level to Shounosuke’s character, Koto remains boring. Unfortunately, Koto feels like an afterthought to a game about Shounosuke.
Rather than being all bad, Chase does have its moments. There was one side character in particular whose unraveling tale in the final portion of the story may make the game worth the time investment. At the risk of not spoiling anything, I won’t go on, but out of the entire cast it should be quite obvious who this is for anyone who picks up Chase.
Since this game is a visual novel, what I would consider gameplay is minimal. At certain points I was given the ability to point-and-click on evidence, but there was no purpose in it. There were just a few objects to interact with, and breaking for that just seemed like a waste. If a game wants to be a visual novel, that’s great. Shoehorning in these extra elements to “gamify” some moments is unnecessary.
There are also a few times where Chase will ask you to select the correct answer, which seems like a logical choice in design for a murder mystery. But when your choices are always A or B (sometimes C) and the choices are so evident, it again seems pointless. I didn’t feel like I was solving much of anything, and that’s a disappointment when solving a mystery is the crux of the game.
Chase finds its strengths in the art style, as it is certainly one of my favorite 3DS experiences visually. The animations of both Shounosuke and Koto were my favorite parts about their character. Going forward, if Taisuke Kanasaki could hit more of the highs Hotel Dusk did while maintaining this art direction, I would certainly give another one of his games a shot
Chase: Cold Case Investigations ends on a bizarre cliffhanger. The ending is so open that it’s difficult to even fill that void with your own imagination, so perhaps there's room for a sequel. And the game was at least acceptable to a point where I would be willing to revisit the world. This short visual novel had big shoes to fill, and it missed the mark in most places. I finished the investigation feeling the adventure was simply okay, but nothing I’ll remember like Hotel Dusk.
Versions tested: Nintendo 3DS