The Hotel Dusk series, especially the import-only sequel Last Window, occupies a special place in the heart of many players. For those fans, Chase: Cold Case Investigations is exciting: a spiritual successor from many of the team from those games’ defunct developer, Cing. Now that Aksys has brought this 3DS eShop adventure Stateside, how is it?
It’s most important to know going in that Chase is a brief morsel of an adventure, crafted seemingly as a prologue to a larger tale to come. The game leaves more loose threads than it ties up in its hour-or-so tale, in a way that will be nice if it gets a chance to follow up later but is certainly at the expense of having a good time now.
There’s definitely a lot here that seems like it’s a test of the team’s engine. The game uses Live2D portraits, an increasingly-common choice for Japanese games and one that works well at showing active expressions during all the interviews you’ll be conducting as part of an underperforming duo of detectives in the cold case unit. It’ll also help to give these characters, well, character, as the game retains the original Japanese names in a way that may make it easy to lose track of who’s who. Outside of the portraits, there’s not very much of the game’s budget to go around, so don’t expect any bells and whistles; Chase delivers a barebones experience in many aspects.
There’s some love put into Chase‘s localization, but it bumps up against the constraints of the original text; the story’s told naturally, but the multiple-choice options are often written in a stilted way that makes their meanings somewhat obfuscated. Which is, well, disappointing! Since the game itself really is more of a reading comprehension quiz than detective work, asking you about the name or place you were just told. There’s a quick break here and there to tap at a muddled gray image until you tap the right thing, too.
As a game, Chase is too short and doesn’t perform investigation tasks anywhere near the level as, say, Ace Attorney. That said, the charm of these games has always been in the narrative, and there’s just not enough time here to explore the full tale. All signs point to that tale being told eventually, though, and we look forward to seeing where this cold case leads.