The 25th Ward was originally released as a mobile phone game back in 2005 exclusively to Japan. Set seven years after the events of The Silver Case, a string of new mysteries emerge as new and familiar faces converge to solve the murders that plague the 25th Ward.
Now with the PS4 remake on the way, Suda51 himself — as well as Grasshopper Manufacture Director Nobutaka Ichiki — sits down with us to discuss his journey from past to present. Below is an exclusive interview with Suda51 and Nobutaka Ichiki and their vision for the remake of The 25th Ward: The Silver Case.
What does the revival of The 25th Ward: The Silver Case — one of your very first titles — mean to you?
Ichiki: The original was a mobile game released in 2005 in an episodic fashion. Nowadays it’s nearly impossible to find an environment that will actually be able to play this game, and for a long time this game has been considered a “lost work.” The 25th
Ward is the first game that I worked on as a developer roughly 12 years ago, and I have always asked Suda that if there’s going to be a remake, to involve me as well. Making a re-debut of this game, including the English translation, means that my lasting wish has been fulfilled.
Suda: The 25th Ward is a game that could be called Grasshopper’s buried treasure, as there is currently no way to play it. It’s a crime suspense title that delves much deeper into the world introduced in The Silver Case. For this remake, or shall I say revival, it was approached as though it were a entirely new visual novel and we see it as an opportunity for people to play it as a brand-new Grasshopper title. As for meaning, this release means that the world of The Silver Case will continue.
Thinking back on the conception of The 25th Ward, who and/or what inspired you creatively?
Ichiki: I was inspired by the British sculptor Antony Gormley and his work. When I saw Mr. Gormley’s sculptures, it overlapped with a personal conception I had with the “observer” that appears in Suda’s scenarios. This time, the game is designed so that “the story is from an observer’s viewpoint.” The UI is largely influenced by Mr. Gormley.
Suda: While we were writing and developing The 25th Ward, we were also in the middle of developing No More Heroes. We wanted to make something that was the polar opposite of NMH, which gave us strength during the creative process. Also, during this time, Tokyo was in the process of transforming into a huge city and foreign companies were building up offices and subsequently residential areas along the bay. A new city. A new local government. How would these things affect people? Also, how would the people who newly lived here be distorted and what kinds of crimes would occur? With these thoughts in mind, The 25th Ward took shape.
What challenges did you face when remaking The 25th Ward for PS4?
Ichiki: The challenge was how to make the focal point of the game — that is the story — be directly inviting to the player. More concretely, we made rules for how everything is displayed on the screen. It then becomes necessary that things be displayed in a certain way and this necessity creates a unique rhythm. Due to the limitations of cell phones at the time, we couldn’t express everything that we wanted, but in this remake, we are paying special attention to the finest details.
Suda: The Silver Case remaster was brought to life by the talented people at AGM. The team for The 25th Ward consists of a core of veteran staff from Grasshopper which is supported by a talented group from AGM who worked on The Silver Case remaster.
The key staff member Nobutaka Ichiki has taken this game from a remaster to a remake — it’s a totally new experience and it will also contain new scenarios as well. The theme of the entire project, indeed, is to make The 25th Ward a “new” game. We’ve evolved the Film Window System from the first game and from that we want to see how deeply we can go in the world of visual novels.
All of this is being done in an indie style with a staff count of only a few people, but we are actually a larger movement daily challenging what “game development” is. In order to have the strongest lineup possible, we have former Grasshopper staff member Jun Fukuda providing sound effects and Masafumi Takada working on the music. The magnetic power of The Silver Case pulled all of these people together.
What are some prevailing themes you included in The 25th Ward?
Ichiki: This work is a compilation of several themes; “orderly society” and “heinous crimes” are themes that are shared with The Silver Case. Particularly, in this work I feel that “crimes that cannot be seen” is a very prominent theme. But since the story is discovered by the players, there are an infinite number of possibilities in the themes they might discover.
Suda: Through the world of The Silver Case, we’re exploring the essence of the formless power of crime as it is propagated. People, genetics, will, neighbors, lifestyle, the city, time, tradition, plots, plans, analyses, network crime are birthed from various places and in opposition to it stands justice. We’ve tried to interpret these omnipresent ideas from a new perspective and that is what we put into the game.
What do you hope fans look forward to most in The 25th Ward for PS4?
Ichiki: I feel that in its balance between seriousness and humor this game is without equal. Even people who have not played The Silver Case will be able to greatly enjoy this game, to say nothing of those who have played it. We have added four additional scenario chapters to the game for an even more fulfilling experience. We hope you give the game a try!
Suda: The 25th Ward is like a beast wearing the skin of The Silver Case. At this very moment, right next to me, the staff is hard at work developing the game. I’m also pushing myself to the limit writing the new scenarios. This is a game that won’t lose to that young, hungry indie creator that was my past self, and will be sharp with its own edge. Be sure to check it out and experience something completely new.
And there you have it! The 25th Ward: The Silver Case arrives on PS4 next year. Check out the official website for more information, stay tuned for the release date in the upcoming weeks!